Inkscape is considered to be a leading vector graphic editing software. The best thing about this software, however, is that it comes absolutely for free. But, if you are a novice graphic designer, should you go for Inscape just because it’s free? Let’s find it out with this Inkscape review.
Inkscape comes with an attractive tagline saying ‘Draw Freely.’ In fact, if you can use a professional vector software for free, that’s great! Moreover, it works just great with both Windows and Mac operating systems. If you are a novice graphic designer who just wants to try a free vector software, Inkscape is fine. But you should also know that Inkscape has a steep learning curve on top of its complicated interface. Particularly for a Mac user, the interface-issue can be pretty devastating.
Inkscape review: introduction
Basically, Inkscape is a vector graphics editor. This app is totally free to download. It can be used on Windows, Mac and even on Linux-based operating systems. If you are already fed-up with subscription-based or expensive graphic designing tools, this can be good news. However, on the other hand, you will have to spend a considerable amount of time learning Inscape’s features. Things can be even difficult for you if you’ve already got used to software like CorelDRAW or Illustrator.
Inkscape is a software that can be categorized as open-source software. That means, the authors will hold the copyright of the software, but the public can edit the source code. In other words, the public, too, can contribute to the developments of this vector editing tool.
Inscape interface on Microsoft Windows
When it comes to the Windows platform, Inkscape mainly supports the SVG file format (Scalable Vector Graphic). This is an open file format that works across all the platforms. SVG files don’t lose quality, but they come in a pretty compact size. This can be highly beneficial when it comes to sharing files. In addition to that, SVG format becomes incredibly handy when you create graphics for the web. SVG files can be uploaded and downloaded quickly, and they take substantially less space from your server space. All the mainstream web browsers we see today are compatible with the SVG file format.
Inkscape can import .AI, CDR, and other common vector graphic formats. However, before that, you should have the assistance of the utility called UniConverter. During the translation, you might lose some of the information related to these files.
Inkscape Review: How much does it cost?
When it comes to the cost factor, downloading Inkscape is free. You can download Inkscape from their official website (Inkscape.org). Getting it downloaded and installed is a pretty straightforward process. However, this software doesn’t support Windows XP or below. When it comes to Mac, you can download it from the app store. If you are a GNU/Linux user, you can find a format like Flatpack, PPA, Snap, etc.
When it comes to Mac, installation of Inkscape is not as easy as you would expect. On Mac, you also have to install a particular GUI with Inkscape. This program is called XQuartz to get it displayed. However, if you want to go for a more stable version, you will have to use MacPorts as well. This can be achieved if you have XCode installed. However, when you install Inkscape in that way, it might have some issues as well. After all, installing a third-party app always pose a risk on your device.
Once the files are downloaded, you should install it. Make sure that you override the active browser security settings as well.
Inkscape Review: Vector and Raster graphics
Programs like Inkscape are developed to be compatible with vector graphics. Fundamentally, Inkscape, Illustrator, and CorelDRAW fall into this category. These programs function in a pretty different manner compared to raster-based software like Photoshop.
In general, vector graphics comprise lines, curves, points, etc. One of the main advantages associated with vector graphics is that they can be enlarged infinitely while retaining quality. In other words, vector graphics don’t lose their quality even if they are enlarged infinitely. This characteristic becomes advantages when you design massive artworks (such as billboards).
Another significant advantage associated with vector graphics is that they come with a smaller file size compared to raster graphics. This becomes exceptionally beneficial, particularly when it comes to creating graphics for web-based projects. When the file size is smaller, the images tend to load faster and provide a greater user experience.
On the other hand, raster graphics (that are created using tools like Photoshop) are made out of pixels. When you enlarge these images, the pixels get enlarged as well. At a certain point, you will see a bunch of pixels instead of the image. This is called pixelation.
Inkscape Review: Interface and Speed
No matter whether you use it on a Mac or Windows, Inkscape doesn’t offer a visually appealing interface. When it comes to mac, in particular, things are even more complicated. The antialiasing issues make everything look chunky in Mac. This is particularly because Macs are supposed to use a relatively less stable version of the software. Such version is usually incompatible with Retina display and high-res Mac screen by the time of this writing.
Although Inkscape interface appears to be somewhat smoother when it comes to Windows, it doesn’t support touch or stylus. In fact, Inkscape is not perfectly optimized for high-res DPI Windows computers.
In the interface, there are plenty of things. In fact, it looks too much at once. To make the interface a little bit clearer and neater, you can hide some of the panels. This is a useful approach at least until you learn the basics of the interface items. To access this feature, you can go to ‘View’ menu and select ‘Hide.’ Then, you can hide some of the panels. The palettes and panels in Inkscape are known as dialogs.
Tools Control Bar is located at the top of the Inkscape window. Towards the immediate right of it, you find Snap Controls Bar. Move further right, and you will find the Command Bar. Towards the left of the screen, you find the main Toolbox. Then, towards the bottom, you see the Status bar with Color Palette. If you want to play more with the interface and customize it, show or hide the Rulers. In addition to that, you can hide or show Scroll Bars, Dialog Boxes, and Guides.
Inkscape as a designing tool
When you consider Inkscape as a designing tool, there are several options to consider. Basically, designers engage with aspects like Typography, Bezier Curves, and preparation of files to export. These activities are often practiced by designers. Now, in this Inkscape review, let’s see how those activities are performed using Inkscape.
When it comes to text handling, Inkscape comes with basic tools. These tools are pretty similar to what you find with word processing programs you find usually. But there are some characteristics to set this program apart from word processing programs. For instance, Inkscape can create standalone text lines. Also, it can create frameless text lines. It also creates paragraph type text. You can use the feature called ‘Flow Text’ to set any text line into shape. Also, with ‘Regular Text,’ you can run the text along any path.
However, Flow Text feature of Inkscape doesn’t work outside the app. In that case, you will have to convert the same into Regular Text before exporting the file.
Formatting features associated with Inkscape is not that flexible compared to CorelDRAW and Illustrator. It is pretty complicated to access OpenType features. Also, some of the features are to be manually applied.
It cannot create a paragraph or character styles. In addition to that, spot formatting inside the ‘Flow Text’ doesn’t work. Nevertheless, it has a pretty impressive spellchecker tool. This, of course, is better compared to illustrator.
There is an impressive toolset to create, edit, and transform the vector graphics you use. Each of these tools come with separate dialog boxes. These boxes can be opened up using a double-click (on the tool). It offers a wide range of options to deal with different types of text messages. It supports creating shapes like angles, shapes based on curves, and special polygons. The toolset comprises a brush, a pen, pencil, spiral, object sprayer, and a paint bucket.
This software is capable of handling point-to-point gradients as well as mesh-type filling. It also has a unique tool called Diagram Connector. To add a perspective line on the shapes, you can use a 3D Box tool. Sculpt/Paint tool of this software allows you to push and nudge the paths.
A handy tracing tool is included in this software. This can be used to transform black & white images and color images into vector graphics. However, some users tend to experience a crash in this tool whenever they open it. After drawing a shape, however, you will find a handy range of snapping tools. These tools can help you in placing the created shapes.
Inkscape Review: Filters and file extensions
Playing with filters and potential plugins is usually fun with any app. Well, Inkscape is offering you a range of effects with its basic version. To access these features, you should go to ‘Filters.’ Then, you will see that there are ten categories listed. Most of these categories show at least a dozen of effects and options. To make it more exciting, Inkscape offers a tool that can edit the filters.
Filters and plugins are exciting in Inkscape. However, the tools included in the ‘Extensions’ section offers you more fun. With this feature, you can actually convert textual content into braille. Also, you can use it to create bar codes, calendars, etc.
All in all, filters and extensions included in Inkscape is just awesome. It can help you create various beautiful and professional-looking artworks.
Inkscape Review: Output Options
Well, output options are a really crucial part associated with any graphic designing software. That is because the output is what matters after hours of your artwork. If you cannot export your file using a standard file format, it becomes hardly useful. Well, in that case, Inkscape users are pretty lucky. That is because the main output format of Inkscape is widely accepted. They offer the file format of SVG, and it is considered to be a standard file in the graphics industry.
However, Inkscape doesn’t support CMYK or Pantone color specifications. Well, if you are going to design an artwork to be printed, this is going to be problematic. In that case, you will have to consider two options. You can either ask the printer to convert the files to CMYK version before printing. If not, you should use a separate program to convert the files before sending to the printer.
If you are going to create an artwork for computer, mobile, or web using Inkscape, things are easier. In this case, you can use file formats like SVG, PMG, or HTML. However, there is one limitation. Inkscape doesn’t export the files in JPEG format. This means that you will have to use another program to do the conversion.
Drawbacks associated with Inkscape on a Mac
It is absolutely right that Inkscape is for free. We have mentioned it at the beginning of this Inkscape review. However, when it comes to Mac, there are some significant drawbacks associated with this tool. For instance, you will have to face compatibility issues. It doesn’t work with typefaces as well as with some font managers. Besides, it doesn’t work with global widgets such as Magnet.
Interestingly, Inkscape offers very limited support in terms of key commands. Those who have got used for key commands will find Inkscape on Mac to be an overwhelming task. There are some issues with using the Shift key to constrain the aspect ratio of the objects. It also doesn’t allow copying and pasting from external applications.
Moreover, it doesn’t present a menu bar beneath the window. It makes it difficult for the user to access the other programs.