Inkscape 0.48 Essentials for Web Designers review

Inkscape is an open source vector graphics editor just like Adobe Illustrator and contains features comparable to Adobe Illustrator, Fireworks and ColorDraw. Inkscape uses the W3C Scalable Vector Graphics file format. SVG can also be used on webpages and is fully incorporated into HTML 5 and is therefore a drawing technology of the near-future.
Inkscape can be downloaded from

I`m Ramon van Belzen, a 22 year old webdesigner from Vlissingen, the Netherlands. I’m surfing the web since 1997 and I` been programming HTML since 1998. Today I use web technologies like HTML 4, HTML 5, XHTML 1.1, CSS2 / 3, JavaScript, AJAX, jQuery, PHP/MySQL, XML. I currently run over 10 websites, most of them as webmaster and webdesigner.
I have experience with pricey software like Adobe`s Creative Suite (Photoshop, Illustrator, Fireworks).  I also read several books like this one but about different software.

Packt Publishing gave me the opportunity as a webdesigner to read and review this book and that`s what your reading now!

As the title might suggest, the book is written for web designers or people who want to learn how to use vector graphics for the design of websites. The book does not mention the programming side of websites, just the graphical side of things. The book aims on web designers who work in a team but can also be used for one-man-web designers/programmers.
Of course the book can also be used for people without any experience with designing or webdesign – as long as your familiar with your computer.
The book is valid for & software run on Windows, Mac OS X and Linux.

The book promises that you will learn the following:

  • What Inkscape is
  • How it can be used for webdesign
  • Site layouts, from the architecture to exporting images
  • Create diagrams and maps
  • Import and convert bitmap images to vector graphics
  • Text editing and styling
  • Icon and button design
  • Creating animated GIFs using Inkscape and GIMP

The book starts with chapter one, just kidding, the basics of Inkscape. The chapter explains the difference between bitmap/raster and vector graphics, what SVG is, the Inkscape license and how to install the program. Next is the interface and setting up basic parameters like image size. Continuing this is drawing some simple images to get hold of the basic settings and features.

Chapter two goes directly into depth, it`s about designing site layouts. It starts with setting up a basic design using layers. Next step is adding gradients to make the layout nicer. Up next is adding text, menus and integrating a logo. The last step is creating slices and handing them over to a programmer.

“Working with images” is the title of chapter three. In this chapter the use of external images and clipart is explained. Most important content (and also main content) of this chapter is tracing bitmap images to vector graphics.

“Styling text” is the name and content of chapter four.  This chapter explains all sorts of fancy styling you can do with Inkscape. Of course all shortcut keys are mentioned. The chapter includes shadows, glows and reflection effects. With Inkscape you can also use Bezier paths and transform texts by the path.

Chapter five describes wallpapers and pattern backgrounds for your website layout. The chapter explains all sorts of tricks to easily generate patterns and effects. Next step is implementing these patterns as background for objects present in your template design. The final part of the chapter is how to generate spyro and swirl effects.

Icons, buttons and logo creating is the content of chapter six. It starts with the written and unwritten rules for designing icons, logos and buttons. Following parts explain how to generate attractive icons for your webdesign. After icon generating buttons and logo creating are explained.

The seventh chapter explains how to generate diagrams, charts and sitemaps. There is not much more I can say about it.

Chapter eight explains the basics of designing website layouts for blogs and stores. It takes you through all steps necessary to generate an impressive blog or store layout. The last part of the chapter refers to third-party CSS grid systems and cascade style sheet (CSS) systems.

The ninth chapter explains how to use Inkscape`s XML Editor to get the most out of Inkscape and SVG.

Chapter ten explains how to use Inkscape in combination with GIMP to create animated images (GIFs) for the use of interactive images, animations and banners.

The final chapter (eleven) explains how to install plugins, script and templates for Inkscape. It starts with how to  make your own custom templates. Next up is the Inkscape plugins/scripts/extensions database and some links to useful extras.

After reading the book I know what Inkscape is, how to use it, draw website layouts, create logos and diagrams, how to convert images to vector graphics, how to create impressive text effects and how to generate animated GIFs.

After reading the book everything was clear to me and I was able to generate stunning vector graphics, logos, buttons, icons and diagrams for using on websites or printed paper.

I really liked how clearly the book was. Every step was clearly described and contains screenshots with highlights where to find a function. All settings used to generate the demo graphics where mentioned. The description and text also explained the basics of graphical design.

What I disliked about the book is that it didn`t show all Inkscape`s possibilities. But the book never says it will! When all Inkscape`s features are explained you will need a very big book – which will be much more expensive.

I will definitely use Inkscape for my new projects whenever I need to make drawings or have to do some designing. I feel confident that I know how to do it, whenever I don`t I can always grab the book and find a solution within seconds.

If you are a webdesigner who wants to switch to Inkscape or new to webdesign I can recommend the book. Also highly recommended for people who want to switch from the expensive Adobe range to the open source world – and need to get started.

If you are more of an illustrator I can recommend that you have a look at Inkscape 0.48 Illustrator’s Cookbook at which will be released April 2011.

If you want to know more about the book or buy the book, have a look at the official book page;
In case you want to have a look inside the book, there is also a sample chapter available online here.


Language : English

Paperback : 316 pages [ 235mm x 191mm ]

Release Date : November 2010

ISBN : 184951268X

ISBN 13 : 978-1-84951-268-8

Author(s) : Bethany Hiitola

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