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  1. #1

    Default first impressions of inkscape

    hey folks.

    i installed inkscape 0.45 a few weeks ago after hearing about it but didn't give it a try until tonight. thought i'd share my first impressions.

    superior to xara:
    • rounded corners for rectangles. this is much better done in inkscape -- when resizing the rectangle the rounded corners retain their radius (something which xara gets on my nerves by failing to do). it's also possible to set two radii for the corners (an effect akin to setting a radius in xara and then stretching the whole shape)
    • graduated strokes as well as graduated fills. this is something i've done in the past in xara by separating the fill and stroke, turning the stroke into a shape and then applying a fill. however, it's then a pain if i want to edit the shape.
    • alpha is part of the colour, instead of transparency being a totally separate attribute. i've always found having a separate transparency tool in xara unintuitive.
    • the "make selected nodes symmetric" tool for the path editor -- this forces both a point's bezier handles to have the same length. a nice feature.
    • skewing -- something i've often had to do by hand with xara's path editor is very easy in inkscape.
    • arcs and spirals -- i've rarely wanted to draw an arc or spiral but it's been difficult to get perfect when the situation came up.
    • pattern fill. i haven't actually figured out how to work this yet, but it's something i really missed when i first got xara x -- i had a plugin (called "hatch", i believe) for artworks (xara's predecessor) on risc os which could produce a hatched (stiped), checked, diamond etc fill. it came in very useful, especially for drawing for black and white media.
    • alignment options -- it's obvious in inkscape what you're aligning relative to. a dropdown box lets you choose from last/first selected, biggest/smallest item, page drawing and selection. you can also align the baselines of text, which is a feature xara sorely needs -- i frequently find myself adding descenders and ascenders (g etc, h etc) into lines of text which lack them in xara so that they'll align properly. there's also a position randomiser and spacing maximiser in the align dialog -- these could come in very handy.
    • connectors -- little objects which are made to connect two other objects, allowing you to build up a network. moving those other objects automatically updates the connectors. they can be set to avoid crossing objects which are part of the network. i've wished xara could do networks like this for quite some time.
    • path simplifier and other path effects like straighten and jitter -- could be very handy.
    • text flowing. you can make text flow from one text frame to another.
    • attribute inheritance. this is realised to some extent in xara in that you can have colours based on others and use named colours.
    • the extrude feature is very nice -- generates other faces to a 3d prism, of which the selected object is the cross section.
    • obviously, the SVG support far outperforms xara's.


    inferior to xara:
    • stability. i've had two crashes since firing it up for the first time.
    • redraw speed. a big one -- drawing speed is far worse than in xara.
    • fill with bitmaps. i try to avoid this, but sometimes it has to be done. maybe i haven't looked hard enough, but i couldn't find a way yet in inkscape. perhaps it's part of "fill with pattern".
    • i'm sure there must be a way to define named colours and have others based on that colour, but i haven't been able to find how.
    • can't, as far as i'm aware, remap the right mouse button to shift-click, which is something i've been used to since artworks on risc os and find much more useful than context menus
    • no shadow tool. it'd be possible to use the "generate outset/inset halo" tool with a lot of steps to make a vector shadow but it would take longer than it should have to. while i'm on the subject, it'd be nice if xara could generate a series of transparent vector shapes in place of a shadow on request -- i've done this manually a few times when making content for flash.
    • i'm sure there are many other things i take for granted in xara now which i'd suddenly find myself lacking in inkscape if i chose to switch over, but that's all i can see for now. well, i can see more features xara has (stroke brushes for example) which i haven't found in inkscape, but which i personally never use and so wouldn't miss.

    these disadvantages/features i'd miss are easily enough to make me stick to xara for now, but some of those features in inkscape are very nice indeed. if only interchange of files from xara to inkscape and back was up to scratch, i'd probably use inkscape as a secondary tool. or if the packages were to merge, bringing together the best parts of both tools -- that would be ideal.

    does anyone else use both packages, and if so what do you use each for? i've read that some use inkscape to trace images they've scanned -- why? i found nothing in inkscape's path drawing tools (except maybe the filters such as simplify and straighten) which render xara's path drawing tools obsolete. i'm always impressed with xara's flexibility when tracing bitmaps.

    in addition, is there anyone who has converted to using inkscape as a primary drawing tool? why?

    i'd really like to hear how you all compare the two packages, too.

    cheers
    --bart
    IP

  2. #2
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    Default Re: first impressions of inkscape

    I may be one of the guy's you're referring to re tracing in inkscape

    http://www.talkgraphics.com/showthread.php?t=25838

    However I have a very particular and perhaps atypical requirement. I don't really do vector drawing up to now. I use xara to color, but a lot of my artwork, as cartoon remains black and white scanned in as pencil/inkwork.

    vectorisation is a process for me that
    a] cleans up the lines
    and
    b] enables me to resize the drawings without loss as I paste them up into a strip/page - which I can do in inkscape, but thats easier in xara.

    thats really as far as it goes with me at present.

    gnurf and David were kind enough to show that, far from being obsolete, the xara tracer is a wonderfully flexible tool for vector drawing but I dont need it at present, I dont get in the car to drive 100yards, I get on the bike, or walk.
    Because it in this instance, for me, its quicker.

    -------------------------------
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    IP

  3. #3
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    Default Re: first impressions of inkscape

    just as an example of the difference here are two ink drawings traced
    the one on the left xara, the one on the right inkscape
    sometime it wont matter, but usually it it will, for me

    I totally agree with you about transparency and alpha being part of the color - if you have a multicolor gradient you can alter each colors' transparency independently in inkscape, you have to hack it in xara

    horses for courses
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    IP

  4. #4

    Default Re: first impressions of inkscape

    Quote Originally Posted by tremendous View Post
    superior to xara:
    • alignment ...
    This, along with the precision available from the transform dialog, are a couple of the aspects of Inkscape that I find most usefull.

    Quote Originally Posted by tremendous View Post
    inferior to xara:
    • stability. i've had two crashes since firing it up for the first time.
    • redraw speed. a big one -- drawing speed is far worse than in xara.
    I haven't had any problems with stability, but Inkscape certainly is a memory hog, and I totally agree about the redraw speed. Fortunately, some good improvements are being made in these areas.

    Quote Originally Posted by tremendous View Post
    • fill with bitmaps...
    Select your bitmap, then from the Object menu choose Pattern->Objects to Pattern. Now you can use the pattern to fill objects from the Fill and Stroke dialog.

    Quote Originally Posted by tremendous View Post
    • no shadow tool...
    Just duplicate, or clone, your object and apply a blur. Then adjust the location of the blurred object; offset, skew, etc., to get the type of shadow that you want.

    I find that the types of figures I make tend to fall into 2 categories. On one hand, some figures need to be very precise with exact spacing alignment etc., while others are essentially freehand drawings. For the former I always choose Inkscape. For the latter I find Xtreme more convenient. I'm just hoping the Xtreme does not remain Windows only, because if it does it is largely useless to me.
    Jed
    IP

  5. #5
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    Default Re: first impressions of inkscape

    I've used both, but what keeps me with Xara Xtreme is work flow.

    Inkscape has horrible work flow and to me it's like pulling teeth in getting anything done in that program.

    If you want to be productive, Xtreme or XXP is the way to go.
    IP

  6. #6
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    Default Re: first impressions of inkscape

    alpha is part of the colour, instead of transparency being a totally separate attribute. i've always found having a separate transparency tool in xara unintuitive.
    Well, since i've came from Illustrator and CorelDraw, a separated from color transparency tool is just what i'm used to. I've didn't tried it enough in Inkscape, but can you do, in Inkscape, a fountain fill that goes horizontal and a fountain transparency that goes in vertical? Something like this?


    I would love it any of then had a masked transparency tool just like illustrator, since you can do almost anything with this. Even some totaly irregular transparency fills.

    graduated strokes as well as graduated fills. this is something i've done in the past in xara by separating the fill and stroke, turning the stroke into a shape and then applying a fill. however, it's then a pain if i want to edit the shape.
    That's really cool.

    alignment options
    The best thing ever in Inkscape... best than in any other vectorial software.

    Inkscape is an amazing app, and should become even better with the possible integration with Cairo, since speed is one of the worst problems. But something in Inkscape that a can't live with yet is the lack of a real CMYK support. Inkscape have the CMYK option in Color Editor, but is just a front end for the RGB support (since you can't, for exemplo, create a C:100, M:100, Y:100, K:100 color).

    While Inkscape, GIMP and Xara (works with CMYK, but need to Export in CMYK too) don't solve this CMYK problem, work with printed media on Linux shall be a great problem.
    IP

  7. #7

    Default Re: first impressions of inkscape

    One other feature that xara has that I haven't been able to figure out how to do is snapping to object centers.
    IP

  8. #8

    Default Re: first impressions of inkscape

    Quote Originally Posted by handrawn View Post
    just as an example of the difference here are two ink drawings traced
    the one on the left xara, the one on the right inkscape
    i seeee... i'd forgotten about the bitmap tracers, since i haven't played with them since xara x, when i found that they produced far too many useless shapes and required too much tweaking.

    i thought what everyone meant by tracing bitmaps is manually tracing by drawing paths over top of the bitmap. that's what i do when i need to copy a logo, for instance. i find it easy to get the cleanest curves by doing it manually.

    thanks jedfrechette for pointing out how you do some of those things, and i was interested to read everyone's input so far. i'll have another play with inkscape one of these days.
    IP

  9. #9

    Default Re: first impressions of inkscape

    Quote Originally Posted by rbonelli View Post
    I've didn't tried it enough in Inkscape, but can you do, in Inkscape, a fountain fill that goes horizontal and a fountain transparency that goes in vertical?
    You could probably achieve a similar effect using some combination of objects with blur and transparency but it probably wouldn't be very easy or intuitive.

    On an unrelated note, I've finally started using node sculpting in Inkscape and I must say that it totally rocks, especially with pressure sensitivity. If Inkscape can achieve some performance improvements via Cairo etc., I may need to reconsider my earlier statements about Xtreme's superiority for doing freehand drawings.
    Jed
    IP

  10. #10
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    Default Re: first impressions of inkscape

    Quote Originally Posted by jedfrechette View Post
    You could probably achieve a similar effect using some combination of objects with blur and transparency but it probably wouldn't be very easy or intuitive.

    .
    this was done with xara and a 2 stage transparency - precise control is awkward, not sure how you'd do it in inkscape
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    IP

 

 

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