Inkscape and Gimp take the spotlight

A few days ago I decided to start make an official break with Adobe in my personal life and work in open source software and other alternatives. I haven’t quit cold turkey. I left myself an  Adobe parachute just in case I need it. It’s definitely risk-aversion.

Instead of deleting the Adobe Suite from all my computers, I took the Adobe programs out of my dock and switched the default for opening images. It’s a first step on a long road of freedom.

My first experience

On Sunday, I created an illustration for a friend’s project. The beginning of the process was very familiar and comfortable to me. I started the sketch in ArtRage on my iPad. When I was done with the sketch, I transferred the file to my Mac and used the desktop version of Artrage to clean up and ink the illustration.

Preliminary sketch created in iPad ArtRage App
Preliminary sketch created in iPad ArtRage App

As I’ve done for many other illustrations, I brought the final drawing into Inkscape and autotraced the image. Inkscape does an amazing job keeping the original integrity raster images and I’ve preferred Inkscape’s autotrace over Illustrator’s live trace for some time.

Committing to Inkscape

In the past, after I would finish tracing the image, I would bring the SVG file into Illustrator to fill the illustration with the bucket tool. After the initial color would be fleshed out, I would start adding complexity with multiple fills using the appearance palette. You can see how I did this step-by-step in one of my earlier blog posts.

Saying goodbye to Illustrator means saying goodbye to the appearance palette. There’s not appearance palette in Inkscape and I have to say that I’ll miss it, but I’m ready to figure out a new work flow.

Learning curves

Navigating new software options can be exciting and frustrating at the same time. It takes a lot of patience and perseverance to make major changes in your toolset. Here are some things I discovered and learned.

Paste in place doesn’t work as intended in Inkscape for the Mac
Paste in place works great on my Linux laptop but I had real problems trying to get it to work on the Mac. To work around it, I would just duplicate the layer and deleted the shapes that I didn’t need. Hopefully this is an easily fixed error.

Inkscape did not work with my Yiynova tablet.
When I tried to work on my Yiynova tablet monitor (similar to a Wacom Cintiq), I wasn’t able to access any dialog boxes that would open up in it’s own window. Dialog boxes like document properties or autotrace would not pop up. When I disconnected the tablet monitor and used the Imac screen, the pop ups returned.

ZOOM IN when using the Inkscape paint bucket tool
I’ve tried using the paint bucket tool in the past and was disappointing. The results have always been sloppy. Yesterday I googled how to use the tool because I thought there was something that I was missing. It turns out that there is a trick. Zoom in very close to get the most accurate fill shape with the tool. If you are completely zoomed out, it turns out that you get bad results. I found this out watching a video by CleverSomeday.

The image on the left was an attempt using the paint bucket tool while zoomed out. The image on the right is the same fill done while zoomed in closer to the design.

Select same fill, outline, etc., is a little hidden in Inkscape but it’s there.
This is a feature that I used often in Illustrator. Selecting multiple shapes with the same fill or outline is essential for editing complex vector graphics. In Inkscape you’ll need to open up the xml editor located in the edit menu. Select one of the shapes you want to edit. Notice that the shape’s style has the fill color, outline color, and outline stroke. Select that the style element you want and open the find dialogue box also located in the edit menu. Paste style in the style area and the other objects on the screen with that style will be selected.

Copy the style from the xml editor
Paste the style you want into the style section in the find dialogue box. That's it!
Paste the style you want into the style section in the find dialogue box. That’s it!

Keeping it simple

Overall, I didn’t try to overdo it on my first time out with Inkscape and Gimp. I just used Gimp to resize the final image. I still have a lot to learn, but this is definitely a start!

Final image
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