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Quality tutorials for Inkscape and GIMP

Moderate Inkscape Tutorial


Today we're going to look at how to use Inkscape to create a lovely bright sticker icon. We'll start by putting together the basic parts of the badge design, including placing some text along a rounded path. Then we're going to add some other text such as a call-to-action, sizing and kerning text to fit before finishing off.

Skills you'll be developing in this Inkscape tutorial

Here's what our finished product should look like:

Rotated badge on its own

Step 1 - Set up the document and create the basic sticker shape

Create a new Inkscape document and activate your Star tool either by selecting it from the tools panel or by pressing the * key on the keypad. I recommend switching on a grid for the first few steps, which you can do by pressing the # key. Click and drag out a star shape that has a radius of roughly 120 pixels; watch the tool's information bar at the bottom of the Inkscape window to help you do this.

Star shape in unset form

When you've got something to work with, head back up to that settings bar and change the numbers to your taste, but probably resembling the below:

Setting star spokes count and radius

This should give you a nice round star with plenty of wide points evenly-spaced around the edge. In the Stars tool, the Spoke Ratio controls how 'pointy', for want of a better word, your star is; a smaller number means a star with sharper points, a larger number flattens the points out, with a setting of 1.000 basically representing a circle.

Step 2 - Start on the sticker's design

Now, with the basic star in place, activate your Ellipse tool (E or F5 on the keyboard) and draw a circle which is slightly narrower in total width than your star, as it's going to fit inside it shortly.

Inset ellipse

Open the Align and Distribute dialog box (Ctrl, Shift and A), and set the top dropdown to Last Selected. Hold down Shift on the keyboard and click on your star shape so that you have both objects selected. Then press the Centre Horizontally and Centre Vertically buttons to move your circle over the middle of the star shape as below.

Using Align and Distribute to centre objects

Result of Align and Distribute

Open up the Fill and Stroke panel (Ctrl, Shift and F) and set some colours for your shapes by selecting each in turn. Fill the star with a light orange (R = 243, G = 83, B = 3), then remove the fill from the circle and add a white stroke (R = 255, G = 255, B = 255) of width 4 pixels here.

Setting up initial shape fills

Step 3 - Add text to the sticker

Now for the tricky bit: making some arching text that fits into our sticker shape.

Grab your ellipse tool again and draw a circle that's around 140 pixels in total width. This can be a bit flexible as you'll see later, but go with this for now. Align and centre it like before, then activate the text tool (keyboard button T), to click and type your sticker's text, so you've got something like this:

Unformatted text to put on path

Select your text and the smaller circle, then head to the menus and choose Text --> Put on Path.

Putting text on path

Well it's maybe not quite what you were hoping for, but that positioning is easy to fix. Inkscape treats the 'start' of the circle path as being at the 3 o'clock position, heading clockwise around the outside of the shape. All we need to do here is to rotate the circle so that this point is on the other side of the shape. Inkscape will remember the text is stuck to this path and will move it around automatically for us. Click on your circle shape once to select it, and then again to show the rotation handles. Click and drag one of the corner arrows to turn the path and text around to the correct starting position.

Rotating text on path

Go to your text tool and select your sticker's text, then tinker with the font and size settings until you've got it looking the way you want. Depending on what font and size you choose you may find your text going too far round the circle, or disappearing altogether until you select something that will allow it to fit properly.

For the record, I've gone with a font of Impact at a size of 40pts here. You can use the Text tool's settings bar to increase or reduce the word or letter spacing to help fit your text into the space of your badge. I used a horizontal guide and reduced the letter spacing for mine.

Editing text settings to achieve correct positioning

Next, let's remove that text path from view so it doesn't spoil our picture. Bear in mind we can't just delete it - that'll send the text out of position because it's bound to the ellipse's path. We can send it to the back of the drawing so it's hidden from view though. Either press the End key or use Object --> Lower to Bottom. If your drawing doesn't suit a send-to-back solution to this problem, you could always change the circle's opacity to 0 and make it completely transparent.

Sending text path out of the way

Step 4 - Add further details to the sticker

It's already taking shape. Let's add a centre line using the Pen tool (keyboard button B) to guide the rest of our badge's contents and provide some balance. Switch your grid back on and click on two points along a straight line (hint: holding down the Ctrl key in between clicks keeps the line locked along certain angles), pressing Enter to add the line it to the drawing when done. Set its Stroke colour to white as before and the width to 4 pixels. Copy and paste to add another identical line and move it just above the first.

Line objects being added

Add any secondary text elements and other decorative shapes and keep using our alignment technique to get one plane of alignment correct, then drag it with Ctrl held down to move it into its final position. Here, I've drawn 3 other stars, changed their Spoke ratios and number of corners to make them sharper, then aligned them with each other to get everything lined up how it should be.

Additional elements 1

Additional elements 2

Additional elements 3

Step 5 - Add a gradient to the sticker's fill colours

A block colour of orange is all well and good, but to really make our drawing stand out, it would look better with a bright gradient to give a lighter feel and make it a bit more eye-catching.

Click on your main sticker shape to select it and, in the Fill and Stroke panel, click the button for Linear gradient.

Opening up gradient editor

Click the Edit button to bring up the Gradient Editor pop up, and select a brighter orange for the gradient's starting colour of R = 255, G = 146, B = 50. Then click on the drop-down box and select the lower of the two stops that are shown to select it. Click and drag the opacity slider (labelled 'A') all the way to the right (or enter a value of 255 in the box) to remove any transparency from our sticker's fill.

First gradient fill settings

Second gradient fill settings

Finally, use the Gradient Tool (Ctrl, Shift and F1) to create a new gradient starting near the top of the sticker and finishing somewhere near the bottom. Just click and drag a straight line with the tool over the shape and Inkscape will take care of the rest.

Adjusting starting position of the gradient fill

And that should finish things off nicely. If you like, you could use the Select Tool to drag a rubberband selection around all your objects, then click once on any one of them to display the rotation handles, before using one of the corner handles to rotate the whole thing and give it a more lively feel on the page by turning it to a jaunty angle.

Selecting all shapes and grouping them together

Rotated badge

Rotated badge on its own

And with that, your badge is done and ready to use on a website, flyer, business card, ... whatever you need. And remember, because it's a vector image, you can do all the scaling you need to and won't lose any quality of those lovely clear edges!

Rotated badge with a fancy background

How did you find this Inkscape badge-making tutorial? Is it one you'd wear with pride or did you just get stuck? Let me know using the comments area below.

Mark is the Editor and owner of Designmark Graphics Ltd. Publishing tutorial articles and guides for Inkscape and the GIMP, this blog aims to boost the profile of these Open Source graphics applications and showcase what they are capable of.


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7 comments (newest first)

  1. John
    Fri, 10 Oct 2014

    I am new to Inkscape. This tutorial is excellent since I am a beginner. Thanks, your are definitely a pro.....

  2. Max
    Mon, 23 Jun 2014

    Your' tutorials are so easy to follow it's hard to mess them up, thanks so much and please keep at it!

  3. Pieter
    Fri, 9 May 2014

    Great tutorial, thanks! I look forward to see more of these.

  4. Mark
    Fri, 8 Mar 2013

    Thanks Mario, I hope I can keep making things clear to follow. :)

  5. mario
    Fri, 8 Mar 2013

    Very good tutorial. Love the clear step-by-step instructions. Thanx a lot.

  6. Mark
    Wed, 6 Mar 2013

    Thanks Jackie, there's lots more of this kind of tutorial to come, so make sure you stay tuned.

  7. jackie
    Mon, 4 Mar 2013

    Wow, it seems so easy. I'll try this one out when I get more time to experiment.

    Keep up with good work.

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