Inkscape User Manual

Un-official manual by Kevin Wixson

Table Of Contents

Part XI
Chapter 9: Pen Tool



With the Pen Tool the Inkscape artist creates straight and curved paths. A path is defined by placing two connected points, called nodes, on the canvas. If the path is not drawn with control points, also known as control handles, then the path will represent a straight line beween the two points. If the path is drawn with control handles, then the path will represent a Bezier curve between the two nodes. A Bezier curve is simply a smooth curve whose shape is influenced by the angle and distance of the control points from the nodes. The further the control handle is dragged away from its node, the more that control handle influences the shape of the line, in the direction of the control handle.

To create a straight line segment, a path that does not have control handles, simply click once on the canvas at the point where the line is to begin, then click again at the point where line is to end. The result will be an object with two nodes, with a straight path defined between. Note that the path may or may not be visible, and may or may not render in the printed drawing. The visiblity of the path depends on the stroke and fill settings for the object.

To create a curved line segment, first click on the canvas at the point where the line is to start, then drag the cursor in the direction the line is to move from the node, then click again on the canvas where the line is to end, and drag the cursor in the direction the line would follow if it were to continue. While drawing, it is useful to think of the line "flowing" through the nodes.

A series of line segments can be created with the Pen Tool. A path with any number of nodes can be created, and the path can contsist of both straight and curved segments. To complete an open path, right click on the canvas, press the Enter key, or select a different tool. A path is automatically completed when the path is closed, forming a shape, by clicking on the original node.

Editing While Drawing

To delete a node, while drawing, press the Backspace key. The angle of the next node on the path can be constrained, relative to its preceeding node, by holding the Ctrl key. This is the method to use for creating straight horizontal and vertical lines.

Appending to a Path

To continue a path of an object that is not a closed shape, select the object with the Selector, select the Pen Tool, and click on either end node of the path.

Tool Control bar

The tool control bar for the Node tool has the following commands and options:

Tool Preferences

The tool behavior can be modified in the Inkscape Preferences window:



Additional Information

Related Topics


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This manual is my scratch pad and development site for the Inkscape documentation project. Documentation that appears here may eventually work its way into the official Inkscape documentation, and changes to the Inkscape documentation may work it's way into this draft. It is a work in progress, so please don't mind the mess. Anything that appears here is GPL'ed under the usual licenses for GPL documentation, yada, yada, yada, or has been dedicated to the public domain. For a list of those elements that have been placed in the public domain, please click here.

Links To Official Inkscape Resources