Creative Inkscape effects in practice

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Mother of Pearl

The vector transformation should then become a negative image for the final patterning that is to follow. You can check off Invert image on the Mode tab to turn it to positive again. Unfortunately, this step renders the image visually compact with a dark edges.

A better solution is to draw a filled rectangle that covers the pattern but leaves a small border. Then, use Path | Exclusion to invert the area covered by the rectangle, which leaves the narrow dark strip around the edges of the original negative.

The powerful Inkscape filter effects handle the rest. Filter Effects | Bevels | Fat Oil coats the flat, woodcut-like forms with a viscous oil layer to give it an almost 3D shading effect. Filter Effects | Materials | 3D mother of pearl adds an iridescent frosting to the pattern.

Letter Acrobatics

In elaborate graphic design applications, you can get text to flow on more than just straight lines. One approach to playing with text is found in the Inkscape function Text | Put on Path ; however, this tool is somewhat too reminiscent of the word-art function of word processing programs and is equally limiting. To shape text really creatively, you must convert it into vector shapes. Then, the rich palette of Inkscape path effects becomes available to satisfy your creative imagination (Figure 3).

Figure 3: After converting text strings to vector elements, you can shape them according to your imagination.

You first convert the text to a vector form with Path | Object to Path , which puts the text into a set of paths to which, unfortunately, you can't apply any path effects. Therefore, you can divide up the group with Ctrl+U and recombine the individual text character objects into a single path with Ctrl+K.

You can then "knead" the path with Path | Path Effect Editor | Envelope Deformation . This tool makes the text-manipulation utilities of your typical word processors look downright primitive in comparison. With Envelope Deformation , you can stretch the four corner control points (nodes) into Bézier curves with the Node Tool (Figure 3, second diagram). You can manipulate these so-called envelope curves in the Path Effect Editor (see Figure 4).

Figure 4: After clicking one of the four red nodes, you get an envelope curve path that can be formed like the usual vector path.

Despite the creative deformation of the whole object, the outlines of the text still look too smooth. To help with that, use Extensions | Modify Path | Jitter Nodes (Figure 3, third diagram).

First, you need to convert the object deformed with the Path Effects Editor tool to a static path again with Path | Object to Path . This action ends any "live" changes to the envelope curves, but you can first modify them exclusively with further live effects, although not with common extensions.

Jitter Nodes works only if you previously used Extensions | Modify Path | Add Nodes to add nodes to the object at regular intervals. For the slight irregularities seen in the diagram, set max. segment length to 15.0 pixel separation. Jitter Nodes with a Maximum shift of 1 in both directions. You can activate Shift nodes and Shift node handles to get the handmade effect in Figure 3, third diagram.

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