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Illustration with Inkscape

Page history last edited by PBworks 16 years, 12 months ago

Illustration with Inkscape

track owner: Máirín Duffy



Suggested Software


Inkscape is obviously the most important of these. Some of the others might come in handy, though.



Potential Hardware


  • A scanner (can be shared)
  • Wacom tablets (would need 1 per student probably)
  • Camera (maybe 2 or 3 if needed)



  • sketchbooks
  • pencils/erasers/rulers
  • printout keyboard shortcuts/tips pages?
  • handouts with tutorials students can take home
  • livecd with appropriate software
  • maybe a cd with hand-picked openly-licensed vector artwork they can pick apart and/or use (openclipart, etc)
  • maybe a tip sheet on open source licenses with human-readable 'here's what you can use this for, here's what you can't' explanations of each, very very short and to-the-point
  • depending on the project, their creations printed out / done up nicely. eg if they do a comic strip let's get all the students' strips printed up nicely into a booklet we can give them to take home at the end


Other Resources


  • will need books, magazines, samples for inspiration
  • maybe have a copy or two of the Inkscape manual printed out?
  • openclipart.org
  • SVG spec: http://www.w3.org/TR/SVG11/
  • deviantart.com (if we can get past the questionable name :) )
  • stock.xchng
  • istockphoto


Sample Projects


  • Make your own comic strip
  • Character design (focused towards character designs for video games / animated films)
  • Vector Portraits - turn your friends and family into vector art
  • Logo design with Inkscape (could do logo and other branding graphics to support it)
  • Illustrate a children's book (take a public domain story like Goldilocks or some other traditional fairy tale, or maybe find some Creative Commons licensed stories)
  • Icon design (could contribute to Tango or other FOSS projects)
  • Brand your band - if you had a rock band, what would it's name be? What would its logo look like? How would you design the cover of your first album and the CD? What kind of T-shirt would your band have?


Possible Issues


Too many possibilities, hard to make a decision. :)


John Bintz (who is writing in italics) says...



    • This one is the biggest issue I see. It took me several years to become comfortable with freehand sketching on a tablet.
  • Students with prior experience in another vector editor (Illustrator) who find the move to Inkscape jarring
    • Keyboard shortcut changes can help with this




  • Day 1: work on storyline of comics:
    • Decide on a main character and some supporting characters. Come up with a long profile of main character(s), and short profiles of some of the supporting players.
    • Come up with sketches for characters / head shots
    • Develop characters
    • Pick out the best 3 vignettes
  • Day 2:
    • Starting out with Inkscape
      • Are the students sketching directly into Inkscape, or scanning via The GIMP and importing their pencils?
    • Storyboard
    • Refining sketches
  • Day 3:
    • building characters in inkscape
    • working with bezier tool
      • ...and Node
    • coloring
      • Make sure those machines are running the latest development Inkscape so that they get the newer painting features
  • Day 4:
    • building scenery in inkscape
    • patterns
    • Templates and asset management
  • Day 5:
    • speech balloons & working with text
    • putting it all together - finishing off 3 strips
    • Publishing for Web (gimp + xhtml / css)
    • Publishing for Print (Scribus)


Day 1


Decide on a main character and some supporting characters.

Pick some friends, teachers celebrities game characters or something new


An alternate suggestion is to use random name/plot/word generators to create the student's comic ideas. This is a technique that is used in 24 Hour Comics Day with great success, as well as in my own minicomics classes.


Come up with sketches for characters / head shots

Pencil on paper. We'll need A3 (letter?) paper, rulers, erasers and pencils.


Develop Characters

use the Who / What / When / Where / How method for creating a series of vignettes (or situations for their characters). Ask students to come up with as many as possible (at least 20), each suitable for a 3 panel strip.


Or, random generators, as above. Also remind students that character designs don't need to be detailed. See Matt Feazell's work.


Pick out the best 3 vignettes

Pick out the best 3 vignettes for your character and add finishing touches. (too much detail is a dark hole)


If done w/ random generators in the 24HCD way, they take what's given to them first. No deciding. ;)


Day 2


Starting out with Inkscape

Basic drawing with Rectangle, Pencil, Ellipse, Calligraphy & Star tools

Students will:

  • Set up frames for each panel,
  • Learn about working with layers,
    • ...do we need to do this now?
  • Begin sketching
    • ...direct into Inkscape w/ the Calligraphy tool? Or are we on paper at this point?



  • A pre-built template for the correct page size would be a very good idea. Newspaper comic strips are typically done at 3 7/8" x 13" and reduced to 50% of that for printing.



Create the frame layout and storyboards for their comic based on their favorite vignettes from day 1.

Adapt a concept into a series of panels that will frame the comics events.


Refining sketches

Continue to refine character sketches as the storyboard progresses.

Turn those blobs into faces and lines into arms.

Think about juxtapositioning, proportion and relationship to neighbouring frames.



Day 3


Building characters in inkscape

We are going to create a series of assets to help build our characters expressions and movement.

Students will learn about what cells mean to animation and how hair, arms, bodies and other assets can be managed as seperate objects on the canvass and re-used.


Working with beziers

Students will be intorduced to the scariest but most powerful thing about vector graphics. The bezier tool.

The bezier tool will be used to refine objects that need touching up. If the students have been drawing on paper they will have scanned in their sketches and learn about tracing with the bezier pen.



Overview of colouring, shading, graduation & the tools.

Working with the palette (creating new palettes)


Day 4


Building scenery in inkscape


The horizon, backdrops & supporting objects to help build your scene.

With colouring still fresh in mind we explore creating rough objects that tie into the scene and support the emotion of the comic panel.


Patterns and clones

This will cover useful ways to repeat elements in scenes without having too much to manage.

Using the patterns and clones functionality of inkscape will be covered

  • Clone tiler? Or just regular Alt-D clones?


Templates and asset management


Inkscape doesnt have a library. but it does have an excellent template system where users can create their own.

Students will use this to store assets common to many pages.

  • Creating templates in the ~/.inkscape/templates directory?
  • It would probably be best to show this on Day 2, as the assets are being initially built, otherwise the students won't get a chance to really use this concept.


Students will use the templates system to create character sheets of objects that have already been created.


Putting it all together part 1



Day 5


Speech Balloons and Text

  • Would we be able to use Blambot fonts in this class? They're a very popular foundry with comic authors, with high-quality free fonts for independent/not-for-profit productions. License.


Putting it all together part 2



Publishing for web (gimp + xhtml / css)

for those who have finished their comic and want to learn about publishing


Publishing for print (Scribus)

For those who have finished their comic and want to learn about publishing

  • A pre-built Scribus document with image boxes at the right sizes would be helpful
  • If a student used blur or other tricky effects, Scribus import might not be able to handle the SVG file directly. PNG export would be the best option for those students.


End of day 5

Uploading unused assets to openclipart hehehe

Creative commons preach


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