review: zen and the art of inkscape

From the Inkscape v.0.4.1 Help Tutorial on Shapes:

The divergence of a spiral is the measure of irregularity of its winds.

Now how can you get more trippy than that?


an open source SVG editor
and vector graphics tool
created by inkscape.org

So I dabbled with Inkscape. I started a few days ago. The resulting doodle being the ugly head you see at the bottom of this post. The first of several, in fact (go to my deviantART if you're curious). Not exactly a work of art, but it has many implications if you've worked with Freehand or Illustrator in the past.

The thing is if you created vectors in FreeHand you're gonna have a hard time importing it to Inkscape since Inkscape has a hard time importing Freehand MX's EPS (at least Inkscape 0.41 for Windows.) The same vice-versa since Freehand can't read Inkscape-created EPS. But then again export (especially the exporting of complex documents) has always been Freehand's Achilles' heel.

The situation's different with Illustrator though, both EPS and SVG goes back and forth between those two without any trouble whatsoever (at least so far). But a word of warning: don't try to export a Freehand vector with gradient fills to EPS, open it with Illustrator, then save it to SVG with the hope of opening it with Inkscape. You can already smell trouble opening the Freehand EPS in Illustrator. Consider yourself warned.

Inkscape is a relatively young project compared to the GIMP. So although you can create some pretty nifty vectors with it you can't use it for desktop publishing or magazine-quality film output yet. At least not predictable output; since it can only export basic fills and vectors when creating PostScript files. At least you can open the resulting SVG file in the GIMP and output a TIFF file that can perhaps, maybe, by chance, be used by film-separation output places. Anybody care to try?

Oh and so far I've only managed to output 24-bit PNGs from Inkscape; I haven't figured out wether Inkscape can output indexed-pallete 8-bit PNGs. Not a big problem though, since WinGIMP does an excellent conversion job. Just open the PNG output from Inkscape in the GIMP and change the image mode from RGB to Indexed. But that still doesn't solve the color-consistency problem, since although you can define CMYK colors in Inkscape the GIMP still doesn't support CMYK color palletes. I think they haven't gone there yet because it would mean having to rewrite a whole bunch of internals in the GIMP. And they just completed a major rewrite going from 1.2 to 2.0. And then again to 2.2.

And would you believe that Inkscape maps out CMYK colors in 256 levels?

Inkscape only exports PNG-24 bitmaps so that if you use IE6 to see this page you're going to see an even uglier grey box surrounding the ugly head below. If you really want to see what Inkscape has made possible with the lame-ass mushroom head below you're just gonna have to use an alternative browser with PNG-24 support (which means practically any modern visual web-browser in existence aside from IE6).

One other thing; Inkscape does support clipping paths; the problem is they haven't made a GUI interface to it. You're going to have to learn to hand-code SVG to replicate Freehand's 'paste-inside' feature. Or you could try to give the Inkscape guys a hand.



What I really want to say is that one of the major reasons that I continue to use pirated software is starting to erode: computer graphic design using Open-source software is not only getting practical (as opposed to being merely possible), but its actually becoming somewhat quite powerful. And fun. Unfortunately unless you intend to work solely on online, screen based projects, you can't quite rely on them for day-to-day professional on-the-pavement work. Yet.

CMYK. Color proofing. Film output. Graphical page layout. Wysiwyg interface for rapid visual development. It may only be my impression but fact is these are very real hurdles which must be overcome before FOSS tools can be used commercially and mission-critically in advertising and marketing-communications creative houses. The developers have other priorities, though. And expecting graphic designers to code these for themselves is... well....

I really do want to learn C. Or at least Python. If only to make possible CMYK color separation in the GIMP and a clipping path interface in Inkscape. I think. But most other graphic designers don't even think. They know they're better of relying on Adobe's Creative Studio and Alias|Wavefront's familiar tools. And Avid. And the Panther film-output system.

Is hope fading? Not really. Not if Microsoft continues their raids. When software copy control policy is successfully enforced (which by the way the Warnet raids look likely to be sooner rather than later), then most computer users in Indonesia would have no choice than to go open source. Nobody can afford commercial software here.

Unless everyone stays stupid and continues their blind reliance on Microsoft's interfaces.

But you have to admit, it is too much to ask every ordinary computer user to switch to Firefox now; in the immortal words of Tim Berners-Lee: "the explosion of the Internet alongside the World Wide Web is due to people's thirst for information (not to mention knowledge and wisdom), without wanting to learn much about computers and cables."



We'll see.

mushroom head, an inkscape tech-demo image exported to 24-bit PNG

Oh and by the way will everyone Please freakin' upgrade to Freehand MX version 11a?!?!? It Is Stable!!! Use the Damn Patch its been out for Two Years for Gods' Sakes!!!!!

(sheesh just gettin' people to upgrade pirated proprietary software is hard...)

Posted at 9:28:18 pm by ferdikom98


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I don't write intellectually. I write expressively. I don't claim to be accurate, fair or thorough. I don't wanna get stuck on certain topics. Though I sometimes do. But not that often. I'd like to expand. I wanna write more poems. But I'll only upload them if they're good. I only rant about my life's hardships if it will rescue just a little bit of my sanity. I'm saner than I make myself out to be, though.

If I am an OS kernel, and I just had a kernel dump, I'd imagine that the text in this blog is what it would more or less look like.

There. Do you get it?


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