What is Inkscape?
In a nutshell, Inkscape is a FREE, open source software program that you download from the internet that allows you to create using something called vector art. I really don’t know much more than that, and really only care that it is free to users who accept the terms of service.
For people who would like to read more about it before, during, or after trying it out, I found this link helpful:
What are ‘vector’ graphics?
Wikipedia gives this answer: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vector_graphics
Since I don’t understand what most of it means, here’s a more simplified answer:
‘Vector’ refers to a technique, not really a type of art in itself.
The best way I can explain it based on my own experience is to compare it to something else. In my mind:
MS Paint is to Inkscape (vector art), as traditional painting is to tangrams
If you have ever used a painting program such as MS Paint, Mario Paint, or ever saw or played new games like Draw Something, the concept is similar to painting with real brushes that you dip into paint and use STROKE techniques to make a masterpiece on paper or canvas. Or, like drawing with a pencil and using a combo of erasing and re-drawing until you are happy with what you have created.
Inkscape is a vector-based art program that allows you to create, arrange, and color SHAPES, much like when arranging TANGRAMS into the shapes of houses, cats, people, or other objects (tangrams are the series of paper, wood, or plastic polygons, that teachers usually gave to kids to have them learn how to arrange and recognize basic shapes – not sure if this is US only or not). Instead of having to erase part of an object to ‘fix it’, you can manipulate the shape, angles, curves, etc, of the object, and rearrange the objects as many times as you like until you are happy with the final piece. *If anyone has a better or more accurate analogy I would love to hear it! 🙂
Object manipulation, rather than drawing/painting, is how we are going to turn a picture into a cartoon.
Why use Inkscape?
I found Inkscape easier to learn than other free programs I have tried (i.e. GIMP, GraphicsGale, etc). Not sure if it just appeals to how my brain functions or if I like how it looks, but heck, I’ll take it! 🙂
One thing I found that I love is the ability to re-size objects and images while maintaining the quality of the object/image. What I mean is – no matter how much I zoom in or out, or re-size an image, the integrity of the picture is maintained, and I can then save the image in multiple size dimensions (inkscape saves it as .svg). I can also export an image as a .jpeg or .png for other uses. This has been especially helpful when designing logos for tshirts and making the bubbles, marbles, and backgrounds I made for our android app Bubble Zing.
Image re-sized in MS Paint appears blurry and grainy.
(image from: psd.tu-torial.com)
*There is a very technical explanation for this that I believe has to do with pixels, aliasing, and file type, but I am not confident that I understand enough or can explain it in plain terms here (google ftw?).
Vector image re-sized in Inkscape:
(images made by me with Inkscape)
How do I get Inkscape on my computer?
On the upper left side of the screen, click ‘download‘.
To know which Inkscape package to download you need to know if you are running Windows, Mac OSX, or some other operating system.
- Apple computer users are running Mac OS X (unless you who installed a different operating system on your Apple, or other computer – if not, ignore this statement).
- Linux, Unix, etc – I’m sorry, I don’t know enough about these to be helpful here.
Once you have determined the operating system you are running, click on the appropriate installer and begin the download. Windows users, click ‘installer‘; Mac users click ‘.dmg‘.
Follow the instructions on the installer. I have found it helpful to close other programs before installing the program, and restarting your computer when finished, but that is a personal preference.
What Inkscape looks like when you first open it up!
My first thought when I saw this: “Holy craptostada! That’s a lot of buttons!”
As I played around more with Inkscape vector graphics, I came to the conclusion that I didn’t really need to worry about using them all. But yeah – how much I thought I would have to learn just to be able to draw a circle was overwhelming, but it isn’t so bad when you get used to it.
I hope you find this to be easier to use than it looks as well! 🙂
I’ll end this part here and post the actual tutorial in the next blog (I know! All this pre-tutorial talk getting in the way lol).
How to Cartoonify a Picture using Inkscape for people who know nothing about Inkscape: TUTORIAL!