Inkscape 0.48 Illustrator’s Cookbook review

As the title might suggest, this book is a cookbook about Inkscape version 0.48 written for illustrators. This book is published by Packt Publishing and falls in the categories: open-source, graphics, illustration, SVG and is one of Packt’s cookbook series.

As a fellow Inkscape-newbie and Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) enthusiast I will be reviewing this book.

What`s the book about?

Inkscape is an open source vector graphics editor with features comparable to expensive software like  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 

Who is this book written for?

This book is written for people without experience with vector graphics design software and can also be used for people new to vector graphics (while moving away from Photoshop) and people who want to learn Inkscape.

This book is also for the intermediate users who want to improve their toolkit and increase their workflow.

To use this book you have to have Inkscape 0.48 installed as well as a text editor with programming functions. An installed version of Python is also recommended but not necessary.

Windows users could also use version of Inkscape.

What can you expect from the book?

You are promised to learn the following things from reading this book:

  • Introduce you to the fascinating world of two-dimensional, calligraphic, and three-dimensional objects, using the Inkscape’s powerful tools
  • Assist you in adjusting colour using hue, brightness, saturation, and stroke width, until you find the perfect look and feel
  • Guide you in recreating iconic images from cult movies, with the help of gradient colours and complex vector shapes
  • Leverage Inkscape 0.48’s advanced path editing tools and techniques, producing great looking text and beautiful drawings
  • Help you produce professional looking posters, calendars, and wallpapers, packaging them so you can print or share them on the Internet
  • Illustrate the spectacular, and often surprising, effects of the many extensions and image filters found in version 0.48
  • Teach you to develop a standards-compliant and gorgeous looking Web 2.0 site layout, complete with widgets and buttons
  • Help you design and build your very own HTML5 and AJAX powered web games, presentations, and business applications, using JQuery powered SVG animation
  • Aid you in extending Inkscape by writing your own plugins in the Python programming language

What can I find in the book?

The first chapter explains the basics of Inkscape starting with creating geometric 2D shapes like a squares, circles and stars. Next up is freehand drawing. After this it’s time for node editing (vector points) and using paths. When the basics of paths and nodes is familiar next trick will be Spiro spline for creating smooth paths followed by calligraphy. Just when you think you`ve learned enough there`s a lot more! What about the eraser, creating 3D boxes, text editing, clipping and masking … that’s also in this chapter!

The second chapter is about colours and the use of colour effects like gradients. The chapter starts with fill and stroke colours, transparency followed by linear and radial gradients, the dropper tool and it ends with HLS adjustments.

Speeding up your workflow is the title for chapter. It begins with configuration the autosave feature. Next recipe (it is a cookbook after all) is how to design plate rims with layers. Setting up grids is next, guidelines and snapping. Also discussed and explained in this chapter is align/distribute, customized colour swatches and palettes, some shortcuts and importing clipart.

Remember the star wars title “attack of the clones”? Cloning is chapter four. I`m not talking about living clones but cloning graphics. After the basics of cloning is explained, tiled clones are explained, in several different ways, with several different uses of course.

Chapter five is about Live Path Effects (LPE for short). Using LPE effects it is possible to bend, style and deform paths. After these recipes sub-paths, gear, hatches and sketches are explained. When you think this is all, wait a second. Rules, knots, grids and fractals are also explained.

Roughly halfway the book (when counting pages) begins chapter six called extensions. Previous recipes have shown several extensions but not all of them. The chapter begins with adding markers to paths, the whirl effect, 3D spheres followed by rendering barcodes, calendar’s, grids and  spirographs, L-systems (lindenmayer formulas), function/parametric curves and printing marks. After all this rendering awesomeness it’s time for funny things. Which child doesn`t have connected numbered dots to create an image? A recipe explains how to create this effect from your graphic. The chapter ends with rough edges for shapes.

SVG also contains the possibility to use filters to create sophisticated looking effects like blur, light and liquid.

On a certain moment you want to put everything you`ve learned into practise. That’s done in chapter eight. The examples in this chapter includes wallpapers, calligraphy on photos, creating a colour book, rail sleepers, a straw mat, a 3D chair and the chapter ends with a flow chart.

Rastering and importing raster’s and bitmaps is chapter nine stuff. With Inkscape it`s possible to convert bitmap images to vector graphics. This is (of course) explained.

Chapter ten is about creating web graphic (images for websites). It begins with the famous aqua style buttons followed by stickers, ribbons, backgrounds, CSS/JS tricks for rollover images, icons and a grid system based design and the chapter ends with a full site design and slicing it.

After creating web graphics comes integrating SVG in webpages. This chapter uses basic HTML and some Javascript to support these graphics. Halfway the chapter an interactive physics simulation (light breaking effect) is explained. The chapter ends with JessyInk for presentations.

The final chapter of this book – number twelve – explains the more difficult side of Inkscape like metadata, the command-line interface (CLI), compiling development builds modifying extensions and the book ends with creating your own Inkscape extension using python.

What did the book teaches you?

If you read my overview of the recipes you will see that everything the book promises to teach you, is there.

Starting with the basics of Inkscape, on to more advanced stuff. Enough for people who want to get started with any (vector) graphics program. There is also a lot of advanced things and specific things to quite everybody`s needs.


After reading the book I got loads of ideas to workout with Inkscape. The book has many hours of content (loads of recipes).

If graphics design is your thing or you are planning to learn computer based graphics this book might be the thing you need to get started.

What I liked about the book? I found the book very detailed, very step by step. Every step also included keyboard shortcuts or locations where to find items.

What I disliked about the book? The only downside that counts for most graphic books is that it`s in black and white.

More information about this book, including a link to buy this book and a sample chapter can be found at

About me

I’m Ramon van Belzen (Ramoonus), a 23 year old webdesigner from Vlissingen, the Netherlands. I’m surfing the web since 1997 and I`ve been programming HTML since 1998. I currently run over 10 websites, most of them as webmaster and webdesigner. I use web technologies like HTML 5, CSS2 / 3, JavaScript, jQuery, PHP/MySQL and SVG.

You can visit my website at


Language : English

Paperback : 340 pages [ 235mm x 191mm ]

Release Date : April 2011

ISBN : 1849512663

ISBN 13 : 978-1-84951-266-4

Author(s) : Mihaela Jurković, Rigel Di Scala

2 Replies to “Inkscape 0.48 Illustrator’s Cookbook review”

  1. I’m really enjoying the book, it is a great reference with the recipes and written for people, not programmers. I do find the lack of colored pictures a deterrent but I work along on the screen and see most of what I need with the color I add.

    I think it is best suited for someone who has played around with Inkscape for a bit but if you are a software junkie anyway and have done Illusttrator or Photoshop it will be a lot easier.

    Good review and I can’t think of anything to add except TRY out the ‘free Chapter 5″ download and you’ll for sure want the book

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