Inkscape

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Inkscape is a vec­tor draw­ing app with all the key tools you’d ex­pect in an ap­pli­ca­tion

of its type. So there’s a pen

tool that en­ables you to draw

Bez­iér curves, you can add text, and you can ma­nip­u­late ob­jects us­ing the se­lec­tion tools. It’s also easy to clone, copy and paste ob­jects, and place them on sep­a­rate lay­ers.

If you’ve used Adobe Il­lus­tra­tor, you might find Inkscape takes a bit of get­ting used to be­cause many tools they have in com­mon have dif­fer­ent names and aren’t where you might ex­pect. Most are present, though. Take Il­lus­tra­tor’s Pathfinder pal­ette, for ex­am­ple. In Inkscape, the same op­tions for com­bin­ing ob­jects are called Boolean oper­a­tions.

There’s a tool sim­i­lar to Il­lus­tra­tor’s Live Trace, which as­sists in turn­ing a sketch or a bitmap im­age into vec­tor art. And the use of nodes on paths makes them easy to edit; their ap­per­ance changes to in­di­cate dif­fer­ent fea­tures, and they can be se­lected, moved, ro­tated, and scaled us­ing key­board short­cuts – a god­send if con­stantly click­ing and se­lect­ing with a pointer drives you up the wall.

New fea­tures in the latest re­lease (0.91) in­clude en­hance­ments to the Find/Re­place tool, a new Mea­sure­ment tool, and a fea­ture that al­lows you to swap the po­si­tions of se­lected ob­jects or their stack­ing or­der.

There are tools miss­ing when com­pared with Il­lus­tra­tor; there’s still no gra­di­ent mesh tool or proper colour man­age­ment, but new fea­tures are be­ing added all the time.

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