Inkscape – Like Adobe Illustrator but free

A short introduction to Inkscape – I will be using Inkscape in many of my design tutorials so take a gander at the “interview” and get to know Inkscape a little bit better.

Having expensive software is not a necessity when it comes to designing professional looking materials for your library. It will not make you a better designer, however, it sometimes is easier to use (more money thrown into the user interface helps). With the ever-shrinking library budgets, open-source software is a library’s best friend. With this, I introduce Inkscape- the open-source, free version of the pricier software, Adobe Illustrator.

I learned design on Adobe products so I realize that this causes me to be a little bias when it comes to choosing between open source software and my comfort-zone. However, I do recognize the value of open-source software and highly recommend using Inkscape in your library!

Inkscape, meet librarians. Librarians, meet Inkscape.

Inkscape: So glad to be a part of your blog, Design4Libraries! I think I could really help out libraries when it comes to making graphics.

D4L: Thanks for being “free” to talk with us. Tell us a little about yourself. What do you do for a living?

Inkscape: Well, I have a brother called Scribus which you’ll meet in a different blog post – he’s pretty “big picture,” creating things like newsletters, posters, booklets, and documents. I, however, focus on the smaller things like logos, headers, and vector graphics. In contrast to raster (bitmap) graphics editors such as Photoshop or Gimp, Inkscape stores its graphics in a vector format.

D4L: Interesting. Now what are vector graphics? Can you give us an example?

Inkscape: Vector graphics use a lot of geometrical figures such as points, lines, curves, and shapes or polygon(s). Vector-oriented images are different than bit maps (think a picture you took with your digital camera) because they can be resized and stretched without looking funky or fuzzy. Vector graphics also take up less memory so they download super fast! Here, I brought some pictures to illustrate my point.

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Raster (bitmap) graphics tend to be better for photographs and some kinds of artistic drawings, whereas vectors are more suitable for design compositions, logos, images with text, technical illustrations, etc.

D4L: Sounds like vector images would work well on websites because of their download speed!

Inkscape: Sure do! They work for print as well. My latest project was a vector logo that was going to be used on letterhead AND a billboard – resizing clearly was a big plus!

How Inkscape Works

D4L: So tell us how you work. Where would the librarians begin?

Inkscape: To start, you just have to choose what your document size and settings should be for your project. But don’t fret about this too much because you can always change it later.

D4L: This is where I always get stuck – the blank page syndrome. What options do you have from here?

Inkscape: Oh, lots of options! Text tools where you can choose fonts, color, weight, and style, Shape tools like rectangles and circles, Colors for outlines or filling in, Gradients, and so many more that are just a click away!

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D4L: What do you do once you finish creating?

Inkscape: There are many Save options to choose from – I recommend PNG and GIF for vector graphics and JPEG for materials that use actual pictures (bit-map). One of my favorite options for PNG and GIFs is to make the background transparent. That way, you get rid of the white box around the image.

Where to Get Inkscape

D4L: Our readers would love to know where to get a copy of you, Inkscape, so they can start creating logos, headers, buttons, and the like. Where can they find you?

Inkscape: I can be downloaded from . There, you will find the download and a whole community of users that use me!

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