The Designmark Graphics blog
Quality tutorials for Inkscape and GIMP
Here's a tutorial that will show you how to create some rough-edged text to add an atmospheric and uneven touch to your Inkscape typography. We'll be taking a normal, run-of-the-mill font and using Inkscape's clever abilities to give the edges a jagged look, before adding an inky drip underneath to cap the effect off.
This is what we'll be creating using the steps in this guide:
Skills you'll be developing in this tutorial
- Managing text and paths
- Using filters to perturb nodes and give a roughened look
- Adding nodes to an existing path and sculpting shapes into a specific form
Step 1 - Create the text
Using the text tool (T on the keyboard), click on your Inkscape canvas and type in the text you want to work with. Highlight your text using the same tool and, either by using the dropdown boxes in the text toolbar or by going to the Text --> Text and Font menu option, set it to the font and size you want.
I've used Calisto MT here - it might be a pretty standard font but it'll work well once we apply our effect later and you can use others if you prefer. You can also change your text's colour at this point using the Fill and Stroke options; Ctrl, Shift and F on the keyboard or from the options along the bottom colour bar. I'm going to stick to black, but just in case, here's what it looks like:
Step 2 - Add nodes ready for the Jitter effect
Now to start roughing things up. We need to do three steps, all of which are very quick, but things won't work without them so don't miss anything out.
- Step 1 - Convert the text object to something Inkscape can manipulate more fully
- Step 2 - Ungroup the individual parts of the resulting shapes and separate them out, then
- Step 3 - Combine them in the correct way before we finish the job off
Select your text first using the Select tool (F1), then go through each step one after the other. You can do this in one of two ways: either by using keyboard shortcuts or by using menus. I summarise the steps in the table below - it's really easy:
|Step||Keyboard shortcut||Menu method|
|Step 1||Ctrl, Shift and C||Path --> Object to path|
|Step 1||Ctrl, Shift and G||Object --> Ungroup|
|Step 3||Ctrl and K||Path --> Combine|
Nothing looks like it's changed, but now we can apply our effect, whereas before it wouldn't have worked. Bear in mind that the first step takes away the text attribute of your shape, which means you can't then go back in and change it to something else. So make sure you're happy with your spelling and font before you start; of course, you can always Undo the changes and go through it again if it's not going well for some reason.
Step 3 - Apply the Jitter Nodes effect
With your object still selected, go the Extensions --> Modify Path --> Jitter Nodes menu choice, and tick the Live Preview option in the box that pops up. This will allow you to see the impact of what you're doing BEFORE you decide it's final and change the shape for good. Handy.
Let's have a quick overview of the features available here.
- Maximum displacement in X, px - the number of pixels in the horizontal direction that the shape's nodes can move
- Maximum displacement in Y, px - the number of pixels in the vertical direction that the shape's nodes can move
- Shift nodes - allow nodes to move around
- Shift node handles - allow the direction of the curves through each node to change
- Use normal distribution - a statistical
Try out different settings on each option and see what effect it has; I've shown you the settings I'm using for this tutorial in the image above. As a guide, less is often more with these effects, but play around until you get the effect you're after. Click Apply when you're happy with the result.
Step 4 - Tidy up any unsightly corners
It's looking pretty good already! I just want to tidy up a couple of rough areas where the moving of the points has created some unpleasant side-effects. I've used my Node Tool (F2 on the keyboard or from the toolbox) and clicked on the shape so I could see what I'm dealing with.
Sometimes I deleted a node, sometimes I clicked and dragged the node itself, sometimes I altered the node's handle to resculpt things and get rid of those nasty edges where the shape has turned back on itself. It's a bit of an inevitable chore after applying an effect like this one, but it doesn't take long to sort out.
Keep working on any areas where you feel the overall look of your piece is being spoiled by the jittered nodes, then move onto the next step.
Now, find a character you'd like to use for your drip effect; I'm going to choose the 'p' here. Using the Node tool again, select the bottom-most nodes of the letter you've chosen.
Then head up to the toolbar and click the Add Nodes button once. You'll see that some extra nodes have been added in between the existing ones. Zooming in to your canvas will be helpful at this point, too.
Now we can click and drag the central node downwards to create our drip effect. This process goes a lot more smoothly if you also hold down Ctrl at the same time, so that the movement is only vertical, with no wobbling to the left or right. Drag it down by a good amount - in my case it's sabout 90 pixels.
Switch to Inkscape's Pen Tool (B on the keyboard) and draw a puddle underneath the drip, which slightly overlaps it. Click and drag out some curved edges to create a nice, splat-like outline.
Activate the Dropper Tool (F7), which will allow us to fill the currently-selected shape with the colour from another one, simply by moving the mouse over it and clicking once. You may need to switch off the outline of the puddle shape, which you can do by clicking on the 'X' of the Stroke tab of the Fill and Stroke dialog box (Ctrl, Shift and F).
Back to the Node tool, and select your downward drip. Double-click on two points on each edge of the shape, a little way up from the bottom, to insert two new nodes manually.
Select one of your new nodes by clicking on it, then grab its handle and move it so that your drip shape takes on a shape that is pinched in the middle, expanding towards the ends, to give it a gloopy, viscous feel.
Finally, repeat the process of adding nodes at the bottom of your drip section just where it joins the puddle, sculpting the area where the two parts join so that it becomes a smooth transition from the drip to the puddle.
One last bit of management to do: join the two parts of our drawing back together. This is quick, just select both the letters and the other shape, then press Ctrl and + on the keyboard or choose Path --> Union in the menus. After that, zoom back out an admire the result of your work.
And of course, you can add a background if you want, to finish the whole thing off and give it some context.
Well done! How did that tutorial go for you? Feeling inspired to try it for yourself? Why not share a link in the comments section below.
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