Inkscape is a ‘find’ an oasis of creativity. It is open-source software which allowed me to take my first step in my journey towards creating 2D graphics.
Currently, I am a student and as a requirement of my course, I have to write a thesis in addition to making a digital artefact. I wanted to find software to create image and visualisations that would help me in my research. Often image is not considered a viable option in research but It is my opinion that the nature of research will change especially as society becomes more visually-centred through the use of digital. Thus, one of the changes will be the advantage of using computer animated stimuli in research. Images formulate meanings, and often more succinctly than words. It is my intention to combine the written word and 2D graphic image. Therefore, I am relieved to find software like Inkscape to help me develop my theory without having to buy expensive software.
Inkscape is a professional vector graphics editor suitable for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux and it is a credible alternative to Adobe Illustrator for a student or anyone else on a tight budget.
The company itself, also appealed because it has similar ethics as I have in that it is non-hierarchical and encourages newcomers to actively participate. It is good to find a software company with an ethos you can be comfortable with. I have discovered that Inkscape Development tries to be a collaborative endeavour between the company and the user and strongly encourages newcomers. My on-line presence would normally be minimal but I have ventured into their on-line community in order to participate in their discussions and forums and I am enjoying the engagement. There is also a Inkscape Wiki site.
As a fledging to the world of digital it has to be said that my lens extends to the basic functions of Inkscape, but on saying that I was more than happy with the basic functions which allowed me to create a 2D character. This drawing would not win any awards but nevertheless I was very impressed by this first attempt.
What I liked
• It’s free
• A clear and user-friendly single document interface.
• A choice of flexible tools: pencil, Bezier curve tool, spiral tool and brushes with various widths.
• The on-line manual on the interface was reasonably self-explanatory. It came in very useful
when I got stuck.
• A good selection of colour swatches, filters and extensions.
• The use of trace on imported bitmaps.
• Layer transparency effects.
• The main tools palette is aligned vertically down the left hand side in a way that uses the
minimum of space.
• The import and export in various file formats: SVG, AI, EPS, PDF PS and PNG.
• Designed to be extensible and customised with add-ons.
I was surprised that the interface seemed fairly intuitive and self-explanatory. With one click on the icon, the tool is highlighted and described.
It has to be said though, that it does require time and patience to get the hang of the ‘pencil’ and ‘berzier curve tool’ but I did anticipate that this would be the case. In addition, I found the ‘node’ tool quite hard to operate. As this tool allows for intricate reshaping I found it difficult with small items. However, Inkscape deserves the time taken to learn all the rich functions and hopefully when I become more confident my opinion will be more positive.
There is a vast array of official and external video tutorials to assist an user. However, I preferred to take a more hands on approach and spent time simply trying out the various functions. I had good fun designing 3D boxes, eclipses and circles. The palette which houses ‘fill’ and ‘stroke’ can be displayed in a collapsible format making it easy to colour the object and I enjoyed ‘grouping’ the items together to make an array of designs.
If the company’s main objective is to provide a user-friendly suite of applications and an easy to use desk-top then they have certainly fulfilled that criteria.
The website is clear and concise with a lay-out which is easy to navigate and garner information. A badly designed website can put me off the product but I had no worries on this score as I found the colour scheme easy on the eye.
Inkscape is downloaded on my computer and I hope that through the mountain of reading and assignments I can get the time to become more confident and competent in its use. I strongly believe that Inkscape should be on DiRT Directory as it is a viable option for scholarly research for those in universities, colleges and schools; and an option for individuals starting up as freelance researchers, in addition to the potential use for all creatives, business people or anyone that wants to make their documents much more interesting to read.