(Last updated on January 20th, 2021)
See this in-depth Inkscape review to see whether this program is right for you or not.
I will go over the pros and cons of this software, reviewing aspects such as price, features, compatibility, and more. Inkscape is an open-source vector graphics editor. The application is completely free, created by volunteers, and supported through donations.
Inkscape started in 2003, a development of Sodipodi. The purpose of the program was to create a vector tool with a user-friendly interface. They also decided that the structure of Inkscape should be open-source. The public would have access to the code and contribute bug fixes and new ideas, continuously improving it.
Inkscape has become a staple for many creators. The community, free price tag, and great vector capability make the program a favorite among fans. Read on to see if this editor is right for you.
Pros and Cons of Inkscape
- Features: Inkscape has many essentials needed for creating vector graphics.
- Compatibility for Operating Systems: Inkscape is available for Mac, Windows, and Linux users. The program is currently only available on desktop.
- Community: Lively community forums with a passionate fanbase.
- Price: Inkscape is completely free.
- Resources: Inkscape has many resources available on their website. From plugins to tutorials, they got you covered.
- Buggy: Some interfaces, especially Mac, can be glitchy. While Inkscape continues to improve with new releases and bug fixes, working with unstable programs can be difficult.
- Limited Exporting Options: Inkscape doesn’t support CMYK or Pantone specifications. It also doesn’t support JPEG. You will have to use workarounds.
- Hard Learning Curve: As with most vector-based programs, Inkscape is difficult to learn. Drawing in vector is unnatural and requires a new skillset.
- No Dedicated Support: Inkscape is community-run. While volunteers will answer your questions on the forums, there isn’t a 24/7 company-run hotline to call with an urgent problem. You will have to use community forums and wait for volunteers to answer inquiries.
Inkscape is a great vector editor that creates professional-grade graphics. If you are on a budget and looking to replace an expensive program, Inkscape might be perfect for you. Inkscape is also great for beginners looking to get their feet wet in the world of vector graphics; the program is free, so you have nothing to lose.
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Inkscape has all of the essential features for a vector-based editor. They have the basics plus advanced tools at your disposal.
- Vector Drawing: Inkscape supports SVG files. You can create vector shapes, resizable without losing quality.
- Bezier Curves and Straight Lines: Can make shapes using Bezier curves and lines.
- Shapes: Has shape tools, including star, rectangle, ellipse, and custom polygonal shapes.
- Free Draw: You can free draw using the Freehand tool or the Calligraphy/Brush tool. A freehand tool is great for outlining a project.
- Layering: In the program, you can have separate layers. Control the object stacking order, pulling objects to the front or back using a single command.
- Grouping: You can group objects and nest groups. Grouping helps to organize your objects, especially in large projects.
- Selection: You can select objects hidden underneath other objects by continuously clicking and holding the alt key (Windows) and repeating this command to reach the next object below. You can also select similar objects by selecting the object, and going to Edit > Select Same > and choosing the quality, you want (Fill, Fill & Stroke, etc.)
- Combine Shapes: Using Boolean operations, you can merge shapes into a new shape. You can subtract shapes from each other, combine them, create a shape from overlapping space, and more.
- Simplification: Using the simplify command, you can simplify a shape by reducing the number of points on a path, smoothing out the lines.
- Bitmap Trace: Trace a raster-image and turn it into a vector.
- Fill & Stroke: Inkscape lets you do flat fills or liner/radial gradients. You pick a hue using the wheel picker. You can also set the stroke color and style.
- Meshes: This feature was added very recently for Inkscape in version .92. Meshes are great for creating 3D objects and making them look more realistic.
- Text: Inkscape supports simple text editing. You can use any installed fonts on your system. You can adjust kerning, line spacing, and letterspacing, shifting letters vertically too. You can also do text on a path or fill a shape with text.
- Exporting: Can export PNG, PDF, EPS, PostScript, DXF, SVG, and more. Unfortunately, Inkscape does not support CMYK, Pantone specifications, or JPEG.
- Keyboard Shortcuts: Utilizes many keyboard shortcuts to make creating as seamless as possible. A feature that separates Inkscape from most traditional vector editors is that almost every action can be done with a keyboard command. You can even transform objects using just keyboard shortcuts, a handy feature for fast resizing.
Inkscape has a very advanced vector editor, complete with all the necessities. You can accomplish a ton with this software.
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Inkscape is free, the best price you can get. There are no hidden fees. The program is a non-profit, available for everyone at no cost.
If you are new to the world of graphic design, you will probably be shocked at how expensive it is to get started. From high-end computers to expensive subscription-based software, the costs never seem to end. Using free software can be a huge help, letting you invest time without burdening your financials. Some even switch over from a paid program, saving money for a very similar program.
If you find yourself enjoying the program and it is beneficial to you, I suggest donating to Inkscape or buying their merchandise. Supporting them will help support future releases of the program and show appreciation for the developers who spent time creating the program.
Free cannot be beat. If you have any interest at all in the program, I say get it. You have nothing to lose.
Inkscape is a great, simple vector editor. All of the essential tools are available to you, making it easy to create a vector. You can create them in several ways: geometric shapes, create paths, trace a raster-based image into a vector, or create a vector element.
In Inkscape, there are several geometric shapes to start. You can create ellipses, rectangles, custom-sized polygons, or stars. Then, you can merge them to create compound shapes using Boolean Operations.
You can also use Boolean Operations to merge or subtract shapes. You can also keep the intersection of shapes, cut the path into pieces based on the shapes’ intersection, combine paths, and break apart all paths. The tool is great for creating abstract compound shapes without much effort.
To create a shape with paths, you can use the Bezier tool, drawing curves and lines. You can also use the freehanded tools, such as the Calligraphy tool or the Freehand too. You can manually trace a photo using these tools or trace automatically using the Trace Bitmap tool.
The Trace Bitmap tool will trace a raster image for you, giving you an outline to use. When using this feature, the program did feel laggy, especially with bigger images. Huge raster files are hard for Inkscape to process and can cause the program to freeze. However, when it does work, the output looks great and creates details exceptionally well.
In Inkscape, there are also several other vector elements that you can make. You can make 3D boxes, clicking and dragging to create them. You can also make spirals.
There are many unique and interesting tools to use in Inkscape. You can use the Spray tool to copy your selected object indefinitely, like an airbrush would spray drops of paint. The Tweak tool will let you nudge an object by sculpting or painting, moving it, making it bigger/smaller, rotating it, duplicating it, or pushing paths and nodes around. You can also create meshes, gradients, pick colors from an image, add text, fill bounded areas, and alter nodes in the image.
When exporting, you can export quickly as a PNG or use SVG format, making your vectors compatible with most programs. This application is great for creating usable vectors.
Learning Inkscape is no harder than learning any other vector-based program. In general, learning a vector-based program can be a challenge for most new users. Drawing in vector is an unnatural skill that forces you to think of illustration only as shapes and lines. Unless you are using the freehand tool, drawing this way can take time to get used to.
With that being said, the transition from a different vector program like Illustrator to Inkscape isn’t so bad. There are many similar tools between programs, and the general workings are very similar.
To learn Inkscape, you can use community forums, chat functions, and comprehensive documentation online to help you start. The online resources are extensive with written tutorials, manuals, books, and tips & tricks. There are links to user-made tutorial videos and a huge Inkscape wiki.
If you still can’t find an answer to your question, the community of Inkscape is ready to help. Inkscape does not have a set support group dedicated to answering your questions like most big-box software companies do. It’s a non-profit run by passionate volunteers supporting the program. In the forums, you can get answers to any question.
The program also has its own chat channel. The chat works similar to Discord or Slack. You can post your questions there and should get an answer fairly quickly.
The forums are broken down into sections, advanced, and beginner discussions are organized into separate groups. There are also challenges posted in the community forums, discussions about new extensions, compatibility, and even international forms.
Overall, learning Inkscape isn’t bad. There are many resources to help you get started and master the program. You have a community at your side to support you as well. If you get involved in the community, you can even have a little fun and compete in the challenges and competitions.
Inkscape is a powerful program that can run on Windows, Linux, and Mac. While users want mobile versions of the application, currently, it is only available as a desktop program.
Downloading the program is simple. All you must do is go to Inkscape’s website, find your operating system, and then download the latest release. Here, you can also read about each version before downloading.
Using Inkscape for Mac is more of a challenge. You can get Inkscape on the App Store. However, you will have to get an additional app, XQuartz, to display and use it. Inkscape has had multiple complaints of having a buggy interface for Mac computers in particular.
When bugs are discovered, programmers urge users to report these problems to be fixed in later releases. When a new version is uploaded, you can read the release notes detailing fixed bugs and new features.
Inkscape encourages its users to create and use new extensions for the program. The software was designed with the idea of the community continuously improving upon it. As new extensions get added, the program gets more functionality, benefiting everyone.
Over one hundred external extensions are available for download on Inkscape’s website, with more getting added as Inkscape community members create them. Inkscape doesn’t directly approve some extensions. Inkscape provides a wiki detailing a list of working extensions that have been tested.
Inkscape can also import files from other programs. You can import Adobe Illustrator, CorelDraw, and several other common formats into Inkscape. Unfortunately, exporting can be a pain, and you may have to convert the final product into different programs to get the file type you want. You cannot export several common file types, including JPEG.
Working between programs can be very tricky with Inkscape, requiring converting and manipulating the files. Sometimes, details in one program won’t carry over to another. Unlike some competitors, Inkscape is a standalone application that doesn’t have a huge family of applications supporting it. To work between programs, you will sometimes have to work through clunky solutions.
You can use a tablet and stylus like Wacom. To utilize pressure and tilt sensitivity, you will have to go through the extra step of configuring these features.
Overall, Inkscape is relatively compatible, working on three operating systems and having some cross-functionality with external programs.
The interface for Inkscape is clean but outdated. There are a ton of tools on the toolbar, which can be a bit distracting.
Up top, you have the menu. In the left and right panels, you have all of the tools outlined for you. At the bottom, you have colors that you can set up into different palettes.
Under the View menu item, you can choose to hide/show tool panels, hiding everything to focus on the working panel. Or, you can pull up everything.
One negative in the interface design is the exporting feature in Inkscape. The exporting dialogue box is confusing and not streamlined. You can export directly to PNG in the program or save the file from exporting the other file types. It would be less confusing if exporting any file could be compacted into one place.
Overall, the interface is fairly simple and easy to navigate.
Inkscape continues to improve its program, adding new features and capabilities. Overall, the program continues to get better with new releases, so it should adapt to the times.
However, the interface is outdated, especially compared with other programs. Even other free programs, Krita as an example, have more sophisticated interfaces. The interface needs to upgrade.
Currently, Inkscape is rising in popularity; high costs of current industry-standard software have led people to search for alternatives. If the application fails to adapt to a changing landscape, its longevity will be in trouble. It may only partially retain its loyal fanbase and not acquire new interest. For a company that does rely on community and donations, this would not be a good direction.
The program also does not have a huge family of applications supporting it, being a standalone app. Because there are compatibility issues with some outside apps, that could also serve as a problem for Inkscape long term.
Overall, Inkscape has the capability of remaining relevant. If they can update the user interface and add more compatibility to the program, they are in good shape to sticking around for a long time.
The community of Inkscape is active, spanning across the globe and thriving within the online forums.
You can reach the community through Inkscape chat, the online community forum on https://inkscape.org/forums/, and other online forums like Reddit. The community is tight-knit and friendly, ready to answer a question and provide critical feedback on artwork.
Inkscape continues to improve its software. The program is improved through community feedback and code contribution. Community members will contribute extensions that add more features to the main program.
The community is friendly, helpful, and active. This attitude makes it fun to collaborate and share ideas.
Everyone should try Inkscape. The program is free, powerful, and creates great vector graphics.
If you are:
- Looking for a free alternative to Illustrator, Inkscape might be perfect for you. Inkscape is free, so there is no harm in trying it out.
- A beginner, there’s no reason not to try out a free program first over a paid one. The expenses of getting starting can already be a burden. You might as well try to save money using Inkscape.
- Trying to be competitive and score a graphic design job, I would get Inkscape and a more mainstream program like Illustrator. Businesses often want people with the skillset for specific programs so you can collaborate easier and so they know you can do the job.
- Already working with Adobe and don’t plan to switch, Illustrator is a better program than Inkscape. Inkscape is a standalone app that can require many workarounds for projects if you need to use multiple applications. Meanwhile, Illustrator will have a whole family of applications supporting it, making compatibility a non-issue.
- Looking for the best and most featured vector graphic software out there, Inkscape isn’t the best on the market. You would be better off using applications like Illustrator or CorelDraw
Overall, Inkscape is a great, free option for a vector-graphic editor. While the program has some limitations, you can create a great final product.
Frequently asked questions
Yes, Inkscape is a free vector editor. The program is open source, supported through donations and volunteers.
Vector-drawing, in general, is a difficult concept for newbies. However, moving from other programs like Adobe Illustrator is not a hard transition.
Inkscape is great, complete with powerful tools to make a professional-grade illustration or graphic.
While Illustrator is overall a better program, Inkscape gives Illustrator a run for its money. Inkscape is packed with impressive features and can make stunning finished creations.
Inkscape is not available on the iPad, but only for desktop. The program can run on Windows, Mac, and Linux.
Anne is a filmmaker and writer with a passion to bring stories to life. She has created several short films, specializing in stop-motion animation. Anne has over eight years of filmmaking experience, and she is always ready to share her knowledge with other creators. She started her company Anne Gets Creative in 2020.
Anne is extremely familiar with many Adobe programs: Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, After Effects, Premiere, and Audition, to name a few. She has also worked with other programs such as Procreate, Canva, iMovie, and Final Cut Pro. She always strives to give the best software reviews, researching diligently so her readers don’t have to.