Sunday, March 27, 2011

Inkscape Text Outlines

An Inkscape user mentioned trying to follow this Illustrator-based tutorial on outlined lettering, but said he was having some problems. To get the user going, I pointed out Troy Sobotka's tutorial on text styling. It gets a bit more complicated, but does present several nice features that got the user going even better.

However... I thought that the basic techniques used by Illustrator should work fine with Inkscape, so I pulled things up to take a pass at following it. It turns out I was right, and it wasn't hard at all. In fact, it turns out to be doable with fewer steps. So here is a basic summary of the changes in approach needed to achieve the copy-n-past over text effects explained there.

Start by reading the tutorial on "Lettering: Multiple Outline SFX". It seems pretty straightforward, right? Since adding a thick stroke often doesn't work the way one might want it to, I was quite familiar with the approach of pasting a copy over a thickened version.

1. Create the letters you want and get thing tuned as positioned as desired. This might be just plain text, text with some manual kerning applied, or outlines one draws or modifies.

2. Group them, apply a stroke, and set the desired thickness. Depending on the size of your text, you'll need different thicknesses. (If you look closely, especially at the hole in the 'A', you can see how this version is thicker than the original)

3. Duplicate the text and set the fill white and turn off the stroke. This is the part where it varies a bit from Illustrator. In Inkscape, all you need to do is "Duplicate" the grouped paths/object using Ctrl-D (That will combine the separate copy and then paste-in-front that were called for in the Illustrator tutorial).

Moving on, one can also follow the other techniques there. Using the simpler 'duplicate' saves a tiny bit of time, but the general principals are solid and the skills transfer easily from Illustrator to Inkscape once the specific keystrokes are not hunted for.


Gez said...

iirc, Illustrator has a appearance panel where you can pile different fills and strokes, so applying a thick stroke to the original, then a new fill on top is made on the same object, without needing a copy (something that the original tutorial seems to ignore).
This is extremely handy to keep editability and when the same style has to be applied several times.
I wonder if something like that would be possible in inkscape.
It's already possible using clones with undefined fill and strokes, but it has to be done manually and editing the text requires to edit the original text (which is at the bottom of the stack).

Troy James Sobotka said...

I would only add that a Linked Offset can buy one a little more flexibility if tweaking or twiddling kerning, copy, etc. as the outset would reflect the changes.

Here is to hoping you can find more time to blog and develop. You are a tremendous asset.

Anonymous said...

Hi Jon,

We are trying to install Inkscape on Amazon EC2 CentOS server and find the process very convoluted. There are a lot of dependencies related to the install and it would be great if you can help us in anyway to make this smoother.

It would be great if you can guide us with instructions or point to any resource or install script to help with this.


scott "at"

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