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View Full Version : Inkscape strategies: line/paths vs. calligraphic tool



carlaz
12-10-2007, 06:29 PM
Hi all, this is my first real post here outside the new members' intro section :)

I'm trying to get going with sketching out a new world-level (or continent-level, anyway) map using Inkscape. I'm keen on the advantages of vector-based drawing to make scaling up or down for later, more or less detailed map versions. I thought I'd start by aiming for a basic "fantasy novel insert map" style, Tolkienesque, with a simple line-based coastlines and rivers and then some drawn in stylized mountains and forests and such like. Inkscape seems well placed to do that.

I did a little experimentation with Inkscape's calligraphic tool, but found i difficult to draw a whole coastline in one go (I'm working with a mouse here!), and failed miserably in trying to figure out how to join up the separate shapes created by drawing the coastline in multiple sections into one continuous calligraphic shapes. (I later learned more about joining end nodes in simple lines while playing with them, so I might be able to go back and try again ... but it seemed tricky at my current skill level!)

I decided it would certainly be much easier to just draw simple freehand lines that could then be edited and tweaked into shape if desired. It was easier to figure out how to join up different sections of simple lines! :) But now I wonder if there's a clever way to transform a simple line path into a calligraphic shape that follows the line? So, basically, the idea would be to draw a complete outline as a simple line, but then apply some transformation that made it as if I had drawn the complete line using the calligraphic tool?

Just an idle question, really! Seemed like it might be an easier way of creating a calligraphic effect coastline outline, etc. (at least until I learn more about how to join up separately drawn calligraphic segments!).

As an aside, I'm starting my all-new digital cartographic adventures by sketching over some imported bitmaps scanned from earlier versions of my world's hand-drawn maps. (Naturally, I've thought of various changes that need to be made to the geography ;) so they'll be introduced in my new digital version. :))

pyrandon
12-10-2007, 06:32 PM
I can't help you with Inkscape, carlaz, but I'd like to pop in and recommend the 75-100 dollar investment in a Wacom pad. A cheap investment that is amazingly useful for maps--plus tons of fun for other apps and uses, too!

Good luck!

FabioCapela
12-10-2007, 09:35 PM
I did a little experimentation with Inkscape's calligraphic tool, but found i difficult to draw a whole coastline in one go (I'm working with a mouse here!),

You can always increase the "mass" setting of the calligraphic brush; it should make the line much less sensitive to mouse jerkiness.


and failed miserably in trying to figure out how to join up the separate shapes created by drawing the coastline in multiple sections into one continuous calligraphic shapes.

Select all individual shapes and press <ctrl> + <+>. You might need to edit the nodes in the junction to make them smoother.


I decided it would certainly be much easier to just draw simple freehand lines that could then be edited and tweaked into shape if desired. It was easier to figure out how to join up different sections of simple lines! :) But now I wonder if there's a clever way to transform a simple line path into a calligraphic shape that follows the line? So, basically, the idea would be to draw a complete outline as a simple line, but then apply some transformation that made it as if I had drawn the complete line using the calligraphic tool?

Select the unified line, duplicate it (ctrl+d), move the copy a little to the side, select both the original and the copy, join the shapes (ctrl+k), create an edge between the ends on both side of the line and fill the shape with some color.

RobA
12-10-2007, 11:00 PM
Select the unified line, duplicate it (ctrl+d), move the copy a little to the side, select both the original and the copy, join the shapes (ctrl+k), create an edge between the ends on both side of the line and fill the shape with some color.

I tend not to use the calligraphy tool for map outlines - only for "drawing". I would suggest following FabioCapela's suggestion to create a "calligraphic pen" effect from bare strokes. I like to use the pencil (freehand) tool to draw my basic shape, simplify it (Ctrl-L) a few times then fractalize it (Effects->Modify Paths->Fractalize).

Then make the offset and combine them with Path->Exclusion and set the fill to what you want your coast to be like.

su_liam
12-11-2007, 12:47 PM
Every time I use effects on Inkscape it gives me a message saying, "The inkex.py module requires PyXML. Please download the latest version from <http://pyxml.sourceforge.net/>." I've downloaded pyxml, I just can't figure out where to put it to make it accessible to Inkscape.

RobA
12-11-2007, 02:35 PM
Every time I use effects on Inkscape it gives me a message saying, "The inkex.py module requires PyXML. Please download the latest version from <http://pyxml.sourceforge.net/>." I've downloaded pyxml, I just can't figure out where to put it to make it accessible to Inkscape.

What platform are you using? On windows, I have had the best success with the latest dev version from here:
http://inkscape.modevia.com/win32/?M=D

as it states:

Inkscape Win32 builds are listed as InkscapeYYMMDDHHMM.7z. These are the complete runnable distributions, with all support files and locales included. To use, just unzip the inkscape directory onto your hard drive and run. Note: we recently changed from using .zip files to 7-zip. Although you will need 7-Zip to unpack these, I think you will agree that the much smaller file sizes are worth the effort. These files are about half the size of the .zips

-Rob A>

carlaz
12-11-2007, 06:57 PM
I can't help you with Inkscape, carlaz, but I'd like to pop in and recommend the 75-100 dollar investment in a Wacom pad. A cheap investment that is amazingly useful for maps--plus tons of fun for other apps and uses, too! Good luck!

Thanks -- I have heard good things about the Wacom pads, and it's definitely something I'm keeping in mind. I'm not sure how easy they are to find down in my neck of the woods, and some computer equipment here costs twice what it does in the States (iMacs, for example!), so they might be unreasonably pricey even if I find one ..... But I might score one next time I'm up in the US. :)

Redrobes
12-11-2007, 07:47 PM
Pyrandon, do you use an A6, A5, A4 or larger tablet. What size do you think is necessary. I have a klutzy A6 one but would like a wacom. I feel A6 is too small and I think most would agree but some people say A5 is ok some say you need larger. Wacom look the best by far esp since they have x64 drivers. Do you think the Intuos is required or is the Graphire is good enough ?

RobA
12-11-2007, 10:58 PM
carlaz - I picked up a used wacom 3 graphire (6"x8") for $100cdn on craigslist.

Redrobes - I think that is about A5 and have found it perfect when working standalone on my notebook screen (1400x1050) but is a little small when I am working with an extended desktop (1400x1050 main, 1200x1600 portrait mode secondary screen)

-Rob A>

Redrobes
12-13-2007, 09:08 PM
I see. I had not thought of that. I guess its the screen size that makes a difference. If you have a large high res screen then your likely to have the image physically smaller in relation to the size of the screen area so that the actual cursor movement is that much smaller. So you need a larger tablet to compensate as the movements on a large tablet scale smaller on screen.

B.T.W - Rob, I like the festive avatar. Did you see this :- http://www.mitchoconnell.com/glittergraphix2/index.html being Redrobes, perhaps I ought to get one too... :)

RobA
12-13-2007, 10:11 PM
B.T.W - Rob, I like the festive avatar. Did you see this :- http://www.mitchoconnell.com/glittergraphix2/index.html
Yeah - that was my inspiration...(via boingboing) And once I see a technique done in PS I just have to come up with a way to do it in Gimp :)

-Rob A>