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View Full Version : [Award Winner] Inkscape Tapering River How-To



RobA
06-24-2008, 02:58 PM
Here is a real quick way to make nice, tapering rivers in Inkscape. I'm not sure what version I have (I always use the nightly windows unstable builds) but this require Live Path Extensions which are available in the last stable release.

Alternately, you could use the Path along path extension to get a similar effect, but not editable.

Start by drawing a long, horizontal taper. This will be your "pattern". The width a the right-hand size will be the width of the river mouth. My lines here aren't straight, they have a slight curve on them. select this and hit ctrl-c (or edit->copy):
4587

Now draw the river you want. Start at the origin of the river and end at the mouth!. I use the pencil tool, then simplify the shape using ctrl-l (path->simplify). I then use the edit path by modes tool, select all the nodes (ctrl-a), and click the "make selected nodes smooth". here you can see the curce I drew with smooth node handles:
4588

With the river curve selected, open the Path Effects dialog (path->path effects). From the "Apply new Effect" dropdown, pick "Pattern along Path" then click "Add". Click the clipboard icon to paste the pattern we had copied back in the first step on to the path. For rivers, select Single, stretched. You can click on the Node Edit tool in the path effect dialog, and you will be able to change the pattern dynamically, seeing how it looks on the path:
4589

The nice thing about pattern along path is that the original path (the river) can still be edited, and the pattern will just follow.

Draw a tributary (again with the pencil tool, then simplify and smooth nodes), keeping the direction in mind again. Repeat the last step. Here I am editing the pattern nodes to make this segment more narrow:
4590

To combine the rivers, select them all, and set their path and fill to "None", then group them together. Set the group fill to the colour you want (I picked cyan to demonstrate). Duplicate that group, and set the duplicate's stroke to a darker colour. I used blue, and 3 pixels. Now push the duplicate group below, and the whole river is nicely outlined (you could also blur the outline for a softer look):
4591

It is just as easy to add lake shapes to the group before setting the group stroke and fill to make lakes and rivers with continuous shoreline strokes.

-Rob A>

jfrazierjr
06-24-2008, 03:17 PM
Here is a real quick way to make nice, tapering rivers in Inkscape. I'm not sure what version I have (I always use the nightly windows unstable builds) but this require Live Path Extensions which are available in the last stable release.

Alternately, you could use the Path along path extension to get a similar effect, but not editable.

Start by drawing a long, horizontal taper. This will be your "pattern". The width a the right-hand size will be the width of the river mouth. My lines here aren't straight, they have a slight curve on them. select this and hit ctrl-c (or edit->copy):
4587

Now draw the river you want. Start at the origin of the river and end at the mouth!. I use the pencil tool, then simplify the shape using ctrl-l (path->simplify). I then use the edit path by modes tool, select all the nodes (ctrl-a), and click the "make selected nodes smooth". here you can see the curce I drew with smooth node handles:
4588

With the river curve selected, open the Path Effects dialog (path->path effects). From the "Apply new Effect" dropdown, pick "Pattern along Path" then click "Add". Click the clipboard icon to paste the pattern we had copied back in the first step on to the path. For rivers, select Single, stretched. You can click on the Node Edit tool in the path effect dialog, and you will be able to change the pattern dynamically, seeing how it looks on the path:
4589

The nice thing about pattern along path is that the original path (the river) can still be edited, and the pattern will just follow.

Draw a tributary (again with the pencil tool, then simplify and smooth nodes), keeping the direction in mind again. Repeat the last step. Here I am editing the pattern nodes to make this segment more narrow:
4590

To combine the rivers, select them all, and set their path and fill to "None", then group them together. Set the group fill to the colour you want (I picked cyan to demonstrate). Duplicate that group, and set the duplicate's stroke to a darker colour. I used blue, and 3 pixels. Now push the duplicate group below, and the whole river is nicely outlined (you could also blur the outline for a softer look):
4591

It is just as easy to add lake shapes to the group before setting the group stroke and fill to make lakes and rivers with continuous shoreline strokes.

-Rob A>

Thanks Rob. I will eventually have to start playing with Inkscape. Again, I now owe you like 15 rep points...

CT's, give this many his 5th, umm 8th, 12th... umm I lost count... tutorial icon.

Joe

su_liam
06-25-2008, 02:35 AM
Apparently I can't rep you yet. This one definitely earns it.

One modification I've found is, once you have the geometry to your liking, Convert Object to Path on your tributary river and then Union the result to the rest of your river system. It lacks the easy fixability of your way, but seems simpler, and, in my opinion, looks slightly better. You can then manipulate individual nodes on your uber-Path river.

Karro
06-25-2008, 10:56 AM
So... can you import an image into the background of Inkscape so you can be sure you're placing rivers right?

Say... flatten a current copy of your working map and export it at (presumably at full size), then import into the background of Inkscape, get your river paths just right, then zap the background.

Then somehow, going back to, say, GIMP, import the river path right into GIMP?

I don't suppose you could detail the process you use?

jfrazierjr
06-25-2008, 11:58 AM
This will be so much help to anyone who does not have a pressure sensitive tablet to be able to "fairly" easily draw rivers with a nice taper from start to finish.

Joe

Karro
06-25-2008, 12:10 PM
This will be so much help to anyone who does not have a pressure sensitive tablet to be able to "fairly" easily draw rivers with a nice taper from start to finish.

Joe

Like me :)

su_liam
06-25-2008, 11:40 PM
Even if you do have a pressure sensitive tablet rivers can sometimes be... painful.

Arcana
06-26-2008, 07:38 AM
Would anyone like a tutorial on how to do this in photoshop or is this good enough to cover it for both?

jfrazierjr
06-26-2008, 09:03 AM
Would anyone like a tutorial on how to do this in photoshop or is this good enough to cover it for both?

Sure nuff! Though I don't have PS, we can never have to many ways to do the same thing in other tools(of course if the tuts were grouped by tool, it would help people find them, but I think someone mentioned that before:P).

Joe

su_liam
07-02-2008, 02:52 PM
Would anyone like a tutorial on how to do this in photoshop or is this good enough to cover it for both?

If this can be done in photoshop, bring it on!

delgondahntelius
07-02-2008, 11:37 PM
Repped... Great tut... You need one for Illustrator tho .. :) but PS will work for me

RobA
09-17-2008, 11:46 AM
Just an update -

There are some nice features being previewed for the .47 release of Inkscape. Worth mentioning in this thread are "spiro curves" and freehand shapes (kind of like stroke brushes). Here is a post with a video demoing these (http://inkscapelabrat.wordpress.com/2008/09/17/spiro-curves-and-freehand-shapes/). Should make tapered rivers trivial in Inkscape (and spiro curves seem way easier than beziers for making rivers...)

-Rob A>

RobA
01-20-2009, 01:42 AM
OK - Here is a real embarrassing update...

I discovered I had recorded a video tutorial (last fall) showing how to do this, along with my workflow of gimp->inkscape->gimp but never uploaded it :((

It is now hosted at ShowMeDo, so head over and give it a watch if interested! At the least it is another opportunity to laugh at my Canadian accent ;)

http://showmedo.com/videos/video?name=2620020

-Rob A>

Black Tower of Time
02-03-2009, 04:05 PM
OK - Here is a real embarrassing update...

I discovered I had recorded a video tutorial (last fall) showing how to do this, a
-Rob A>

Very nice tutorial. I hope to find more like those in the next time here :-)
Also the Mountain tutorial one you done saved nearly my live ;-) (never got the idea using the form-fill tool:idea:)
You ever tried the Fractalize methode / script in Inkscape to make river winds or maybe mountain range outlines ? I played around with it for coast outlines and like it so far.

Vandy
02-05-2009, 02:39 PM
Hi, All.

Here is RobA's great tutorial as a PDF document.

Regards,

Gary

10000

Bedwyr
02-05-2009, 02:58 PM
OK - Here is a real embarrassing update...

I discovered I had recorded a video tutorial (last fall) showing how to do this, along with my workflow of gimp->inkscape->gimp but never uploaded it :((

It is now hosted at ShowMeDo, so head over and give it a watch if interested! At the least it is another opportunity to laugh at my Canadian accent ;)

http://showmedo.com/videos/video?name=2620020

-Rob A>

Why would I laugh aboot that? It's a very serious matter.

Seriously, thanks for the tut. Nice work.

Black Tower of Time
02-09-2009, 05:41 AM
Hi, All.
Here is RobA's great tutorial as a PDF document.
Regards,
Gary


Thank you very much. This is very helpful as it is more easy to handle beside working on things or for read offline :-)
You also converted RobA's very big award winning tutorial about map drawing in a PDF too?

Nauryl
01-06-2011, 04:30 AM
Man, that's exactly what I was looking for in the last two days. Thank you sooo much!

wally-d-feed
02-11-2012, 08:11 AM
That's a pretty useful tutorial and I will definitely make use of that in my current project.
Additionally I would suggest an alternative method for the last step.

Instead of grouping the shapes you could also turn them into paths (Path>Object to Path) and then press Ctrl++ to turn them into one path. This would of course take away the option to change the course of the river with nodes ... but it's more useful for my technique where I treat rivers and lakes like inverted coastlines.