Inkscape User Manual

Un-official manual by Kevin Wixson

Table Of Contents

Part VII
Chapter 4: Boolean Operations


Boolean operations work on two or more shapes or paths to create more complicated shapes and paths in combination with each other. With boolean operations an artist can combine two shapes to make one larger one, cut one shape out of another, divide a shape into multiple smaller shapes, and create path segments by cutting it at intersecting points. The boolean operations commands include Union, Difference, Intersection, Exclusion, Division, and Cut Path.


The Union boolean operation will combine two or more overlapping shapes into one larger shape, consisting of the outer contour of the shapes. At least two overlapping shapes must be selected for the Union command to have the desired effect. If the selected shapes are not overlapping, the Union command will have the same effect as the Combine command. This command is intended to work on shapes (closed paths) but open paths are affected by the Union command as well, however, the results are somewhat unpredictable. On open paths, the command works by first closing each path with a straight path segment between the end nodes, then combining the two shapes. Sometimes multiple paths are created.


Executing the Difference boolean operation with two overlapping shapes selected will remove the area of the top object from the bottom object. Executing the Difference command with more than two shapes selected has no effect. The Difference command is meant to be used with shapes, but open paths are affected by the command as well.


Using the Intersection boolean operation results in a shape consisting of the overlapping area(s) of selected objects. More than two objects can be selected, the resulting shape consisting of the intersecting area of all the selected shapes, and having the effect of deleting all of the selected objects if no area is overlapped by all selected objects.


The Exclusion boolean operation creates a shape or shapes of the areas not overlapping. Only two shapes can be selected to achieve the effect. The stacking order for the Exclusion command is not important.


Division of two shapes results in two or more shapes, one of the overlapping area of the two objects, and one of the exclusion area of the bottom (in stacking order) shape.

Cut Path

The Cut Path command divides each of the two selected objects at the intersections of the paths, resulting in open path segments. This command is handy for cutting an open path by drawing an intersecting path, selecting both paths, executing this command, and deleting the unused path segments.


Options & Preferences

Additional Information

Related Topics


Date: 08/04/2005
Nickname: Elwin Estle
Subject: boolean stuff
Message: Do boolean functions work on grouped objects? I was trying something earlier and could get the "difference" function to work, but only if I ungrouped the objects in question first.
Date: 11/30/2005
Nickname: Kevin
Subject: Booleans on Group
Message: Boolean ops do NOT work on groups. Ungroup objects before attempting to perform a boolean operation with them.

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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.

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