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Sunday, November 18, 2012

Understanding Inkscape's Path Operations

I've noticed that I use these Path Operations repeatedly in my work at FlyerTutor. Figured it was time for a quick and easy tutorial on how to use them to create new and interesting shapes.

The Path Operations are Union, Difference, Intersection, Exclusion, Division, and Cut Path. They can be used on 2 or more Paths/Shapes.

The Path Operations that I use most often are the top 3 Paths - Union, Difference and Intersection. For the purpose of this tutorial, I will demonstrate all 6 Operations.


Union

As the name suggests, Union is a combination of 2 or more overlapping shapes into 1 shape. 


Start off with the shapes that you would like to overlap.
With the Select Tool move your shapes so that they overlap.


While holding down your mouse button, drag your cursor over the shapes so that they are all selected. 
Go to the Path Menu and select Union.



The 3 shapes will then be merged into 1. 

Difference

The Difference Operation will remove the overlapping section of a shape that's placed on top of another shape. It will only work for 2 shapes.


Start off with the 2 shapes that you would like to overlap.


With the Select Tool move your shapes so that they overlap.

While holding down your mouse button, drag your cursor over the 2 shapes so that they are both selected. 
 Go to the Path Menu and select Difference.



The overlapped piece of the shapes will be cut out from the remaining shape.


Intersection

This Operation will only leave the overlapped section of 2 or more shapes.


Start off with the 2 or more shapes that you would like to overlap.


With the Select Tool move your shapes so that they overlap.

While holding down your mouse button, drag your cursor over the 2 or more shapes so that they are both selected.


Go to the Path Menu and select Intersection.


The 2 shapes are gone, but their overlapped area remains.


Exclusion

The Exclusion Operation can be used with 2 or more shapes. Basically, any area that is overlapped will be removed.


Start off with the 2 or more shapes that you would like to overlap.

With the Select Tool move your shapes so that they overlap.


While holding down your mouse button, drag your cursor over the 2 or more shapes so that they are selected.

Go to the Path Menu and select Exclusion.


Notice the overlapped area has been removed.


As an example, you can place an image behind the excluded area of the new shape.


Division

The Division Operation can only be used with 2 shapes. It splits or divides the bottom shape wherever the top shape intersects it.


Start off with the 2 shapes that you would like to overlap.

With the Select Tool move your shapes so that they overlap.




While holding down your mouse button, drag your cursor over the 2 shapes so that they are both selected.

Go to the Path Menu and select Division.


The bottom shape is now cut in 2 where the top shape had overlapped it. These are 2 separate closed shapes.


As an example, you can give one shape a Gradient Fill. Hey, I know, not the best image but it illustrates my point.




Cut Path

The Cut Path Operation splits or divides the bottom shape, wherever the top shape intersects it. It can only be used with 2 shapes. 


Start off with the 2 shapes that you would like to overlap. Be certain to give both shapes a Stroke Color. For this tutorial, both shapes have the same Stroke Color as their Fill. 


With the Select Tool move your shapes so that they overlap.
While holding down your mouse button, drag your cursor over the 2 shapes so that they are both selected.

Go to the Path Menu and select Cut Path.


Although you cannot see it, the bottom shape is now cut in 2 where the top shape had overlapped it. The Fill Color disappears because the 2 shapes are no longer enclosed.

I've moved the paths just a bit so that you can see the difference.


I've never used this operation in my designing. I decided to play around with it for this tutorial, using Text. This is what I was able to come up with.

You can see the possibilities. I hope that this tutorial proves helpful to you in some way. Thanks so much for viewing!


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