How to Cartoonify a Picture Using Inkscape – For People Who Know Nothing About Inkscape: BACKSTORY




First Time for Everything!

Ok, so this is my first real how-to blog.

Though it happens to be on a subject I know little about, circumstances have forced me to teach myself how to use a program called Inkscape.

In my own quest to learn, I have searched, read, and watched dozens of tutorials like many people out there – found some good ones, great ones, and not-so-good ones too.

I did not go to school for art, nor did I have much interest in being an artist by trade, but I believe that a bit of courage to ‘try’ and teach yourself something is all you need to produce something that you can be happy with, whether it is useful to you or not.

It took me a very long time to get to this point because I never used to believe that trying was enough – that you had to have that special sauce, the talent, the power, the money, the schooling, the triforce, the permission, and all those other things I used to tell myself to keep me from just ‘trying’ anything.

If you want to do anything in life, you have to and CAN start somewhere right?


Why am I writing a tutorial?

My husband and I decided to follow our dreams of creating and publishing computer games and smartphone apps.

The idea was that he would be the techie programmer dude that would be responsible for game design and the overall development process. My role, as I was trained, was to be the jack-of-all-trades admin guru – I would keep us organized, find people, money, and opportunities, and market our company and products to the masses. Two very complex and difficult roles for each of us to fill (although I think programming is probably much more mentally taxing), and you guessed it – a heck of a lot of time and money required to get there.

For years we have been searching for artists to either join our team or to make graphics, sprites, backgrounds, and animations, that we would purchase the rights to for each product.

As I learned more about the process, I came to realize we had a huge dilemma:

If we wanted high quality graphics, it was going to cost as much as $50K per project (average quote given by art studios we contacted based on specs for ONE game app) – money that we simply do not have access to at this time.

If we were going to get art from “starving artists/college kids” with no experience, we could get the work on the cheap or for free, but we could not expect them to understand what we need, deliver it, or be responsive IN GENERAL. In this case, many of the young college students that were excited about becoming graphic designers, 2d spriters, animators, etc, had not thought to develop a portfolio of their work (even if they were only assignments). When asked to do something, they almost never delivered, and sadly, some just didn’t feel confident about what they do, and some (sorry to say it) are just flat out too lazy to do things on their own. That is not to say that they weren’t nice or capable people – I think it just reveals who is ready to put their skills to work and who is not.

*To those of you that did and do deliver – you rock! I respect that kind of will and perseverance with a dash of ‘balls’ to develop your own craft without waiting for a degree or for someone else to say that you are good enough. We all know that talent alone does not guarantee success.


What does this have to do with Inkscape and turning a picture into a cartoon?

The list of resources needed to fill our art needs is growing. Hence, I wanted to see if I can teach myself ANYTHING about art that can help us reduce our resource requirement as an indie game studio. Even if the only thing I can do it make text, color pictures, or make sexy circles – these details add to the production value of a product.

Being able to fill these holes ourselves saves us $$$ and, well – makes me feel just that much more darn-tootin’ about what I can contribute to the process!

[my first art attempts used in Bubble Zing]


Back to the point:

Personally, I have had some difficulty with tutorials that are labeled for beginners because sometimes the tutorial writer sometimes doesn’t think about the minute details, doesn’t explain how they transitioned from one step to the other, or forgets about removing the language ‘barrier’ between technically trained artists and ‘the rest of us’, so to speak. For these reasons, I have found video tutorials to be the most helpful in my own learning process. However, you should choose the methods that work best for you – as each person can learn to do well regardless of how one learns.

Some of my favorite tutorial videos are by tutor4u on YouTube because the narrator is thorough, speaks clearly, and has a nice pace set throughout the videos – this made it easy to listen, pause the video if needed, repeat steps in case I did it wrong, etc. He is using an older Inkscape version I believe, but it looks the same to me I still find them to be very useful.

The tutorial I will post in the next few days is an attempt to show in as basic, simple, and thorough as possible, how to use Inkscape to turn a picture into a cartoon.

This is for the person with very limited, to zero knowledge of artistic tools, software, and/or terminology (like myself). Whether you want to do this for fun or for some project of your own, the point is you can learn how to do this without a background in art or fancy art programs.


You can haz TRIFORCE?



Yes, indeed!



Next blog:

How to Cartoonify a Picture using Inkscape: for people who know nothing about Inkscape: GETTING STARTED




2 comments on “How to Cartoonify a Picture Using Inkscape – For People Who Know Nothing About Inkscape: BACKSTORY

  1. I enjoyed reading your post and appreciate your transparency along the way. With so much great content on the internet it often seems like everybody’s got it all sorted out so it’s always nice to be reminded everybody is human. 🙂

    I actually submitted the post to Hacker News as often people there appreciate hearing about the development process. Unfortunately I don’t think I picked a great time (weekend etc) to post but if you do similar articles again in future you should definitely post a link there.

    For similar types of content you’d probably benefit from reading (a Hacker News regular) and the Android Developer Income report posts:

    I also read your introduction post and look forward to reading more. While I’ve had experience with Inkscape I’m involved with teaching another technology to people who may not have much technical experience so appreciate the insight you provide from that perspective.

    While reading through the post there were a number of times when I was like “Oh, okay, I hadn’t thought of needing to explain that” which is a good opportunity to be reminded to check my technical assumptions. 🙂

    I was intrigued by your vector graphics explanation–I think the way I’ve generally seen the difference between “bitmap” (or “raster”) and “vector” graphics explained, is that one uses “dots” (pixels) and the other lines. But I like your example which highlights the “shapes”/”objects”-based approach of vectors and the ease of repeated modifications. It’ll be interesting to see what feedback you get from non-technical readers.

    I installed Bubble Zing on my phone & tablet and had a small play. It seems like an interesting mechanic but felt like it stayed in “easy” mode a little too long for me. On the technical side of things on the tablet (an HTC JetStream) the opening screen chops off the exit buttons and doesn’t fit the layout properly. In the game itself the advertisements overlapped the centre marble launch areas so you couldn’t see the marbles remaining count.

    Anyway, just wanted to encourage you to continue writing and wish you both well on your adventure. 🙂

    • Good day Phillip,

      Thanks for the review and great information you included in your response.

      My husband/business partner and I have looked into ycombinator as an option for business development, growth, marketing, resources, etc. I checked out the kalzumeus blog for this afternoon – I must admit, as a non-technical person and non-programmer, the writer is speaking a bit of a foreign language to me. However, it seems like he/she took a lot of time to collect and analyze statistical data, which I am particularly interested in. I forwarded the site to my husband for him to review as well. On that note, I’m glad you posted the ycombinator page featuring KreCi’s Android Developer Income reports and updates – I have been tracking his progress view his blog and FB page over the last six months, which has really helped us both to understand a lot about the process, learn from KreCi’s and other developers’ trials and errors, and gain some understanding about growing our business with limited resources.

      As much as I have been lurking the net for a long time, blogging is quite foreign to me, so I appreciate the candid feedback.

      I have not heard the explanation of raster versus vector graphics as “dots versus lines”. I understand that pixels are tiny squares on the screen, and that when you draw or paint using something like MSPaint, Gimp, etc, that what appears to be a curve or a line is really just a giant “connect-the-dot” game. I will have to read more on the dots versus lines explanation – as I am of the belief that if this analogy makes more sense to beginners, it probably is a good idea to include it! 🙂

      Glad you mentioned technical assumptions – there are many times when I have had to assist a coworker or friend/family member with something on the computer that I have taken for granted as being “easy” or “common knowledge”. I try to remember the “how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich” assignment from grade school (keeping in mind that the person you might be teaching how to make a sandwich might not know what pb, jelly, a knife, a twist tie, bread, etc, is; and what to do with these things to produce the final result).

      BIG THANKS for testing Bubble Zing on your phone and tablet. We have also been talking about whether it was too easy in the beginning stages and appreciate your thoughts on it as well. I have not heard of the HTC Jetstream and will do some research on the device. I think the biggest eye-opener we have had lately is the fact that we were making Bubble Zing per OUR phone and tablet standards (Droid Razr and Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1). The changes and fixes implemented thus far have included devices that our friends or reviewers have notified us about as have issues (most commonly, the marbles at the bottom of the launcher being covered by the ad).

      I forwarded your feedback about the phone and tablet issues with BZ to my husband egoflux in order to give a more technical, thorough response:

      “Bubble Zing could have issues with display on the HTC Jetstream because apparently it is using a non-standard display density. According to specs we dug up, it is using a 148 PPI which is a very awkward density. Usually Android devices use a 120, 160, or 240 pixel per inch so all of our testing efforts went in to satisfying those “normal” densities (per the Android developer docs).

      Our new version 1.1.0 (not released yet) stripped all our old “standard” graphics code and should now cater to any density, phone, or tablet – in theory.

      One of the challenges of Android development is that there are significant problems with device incompatibilities when programming for the devices. As such, we have been unable to directly test the HTC Jetstream with our application code to physically verify the game would work on that device specifically.

      A big thanks goes out to the user for submitting this report to us so that we can learn from this and ultimately provide better products in the future.”

      Anywho, sorry for the huge response, but I felt that it was appropriate and deserved! XD

      Thanks again Phillip and have a great weekend!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s