How a simple tutorial becomes very popular

Inkscape tutorial to create flowing spiro swirls
Inkscape tutorial to create flowing spiro swirls

A while back I created a simple video tutorial on how to create Spiro Swirls in Inkscape. It is aimed at beginning Inkscape artists and even without any prior Inkscape knowledge it should be easy to follow.

Spiro curves (Cornu spirals) were introduced to the design world by Raph Levien, and the feature is included in the latest release of Inkscape, version 0.47.

Spiro curves are awesome. They were originally created to support font design, and creating smooth flowing swirls is easily done.

My tutorial demonstrates the basics of Spiro curves in Inkscape at a slow pace and use it to create smooth flowing swirls.

For some reason this tutorial is the most popular page on, and it gets more visitors than the front page. How awesome is that?

Work and re-work

Photoshop Brush Compatibility

Sometimes things do not exactly work out as planned. I created a lot of vector files that were converted to Photoshop brushes. As I try and work with open source software mostly nowadays, I did not realise there are compatibility problems with the Photoshop brushes. But alas, that was just me being misinformed, brushes from a newer photoshop version will not load in an older version, whilst Photoshop brushes created in PS7 will load fine in CS, CS2, C3, C4 as well as PSE2+. I am glad I created all brushes and exported them as EPS so the re-work was not too painful, and I am glad that now indeed we offer (free) brushes that are compatible with multiple PS versions.

Inkscape Filter Effects

I seem to be totally addicted to Inkscape. It still crashes on me every now and again, but the current version 0.47 offers sure a lot for no cost. I wrote a few beginner tutorials, which now feature on and of course on our own I have plenty ideas for more tutorials, but before I start writing them, I research if similar tutorials are published yet. One thing that intrigues me most is the use of svg filters. The filters are available since version 0.46, but only since version 0.47 Inkscape comes with some pre-sets installed. And if the whole concept of svg filters is new, examples are exactly what is needed to learn more about the Inkscape implementation. I did follow the course “digital imaging” as part of my curriculum, so I am quite familiar with some concepts – but to “invent” new svg filters will require some further research.

Adding your own custom filters

One of the good things is that it is quite easy to add custom filters to Inkscape, altho it is not so obvious. It comes down to placing a .svg file in the Inkscape\share\filters folder. The file needs only to contain the filter definitions, and the filters must have a few attributes set properly. Further to that these filters must be added to the filters.svg.h file in the same folder, to allow translation. It is all explained in the readme file that also comes in that folder – but which user would ever think of looking there ^^.

Usability of the Filter Editor dialog

Another thing is the filter editor interface. The mock-up screen in the documentation for version 0.46 shows a preview window, the actual implementation allows to enable/disable a filter with a checkbox. This immediately applies the filter to selected objects. It is workable, but it would be nice to quickly browse through the list of available filters and see a preview of the effect before it is actually applied. It would also be very usable for building new filters.

I understand how the filter editor works, and how input/output is taken to each applied primitive. The way things are done now keeps the screen very concise, but personally I feel that an interface as used in procedural shaders would gain greater understanding from the average user. If you have no idea what I mean: have a look at the compositing tool MapZone uses. MapZone is a free texture creator aimed at the 3D designer. And tho its options are quite a bit more advanced than those in the Inkscape filter editor, the way of building filters could be done similar. The really neat feature in MapZone is that it can show thumbnails of current result of operations at each node (picture of input, picture of output), which greatly improves the usability of such a tool for the novice texture (filter) builder. An alternative filter builder with similar node editing features is filterforge (tho that is not freely available).

‘nuf said. It is easy to criticise but not to participate. I am very pleased with the availability of a svg filter editor in Inkscape, and kudos to all that worked on this impressive feature. I think it is also somewhat underexposed – and that is why I am currently considering to write a further set of tutorials on this subject. Currently I am slowly building a personal library with filter effects found on the internet, as far as they are not implemented in Inkscape yet.

Vector Illustrations now also available

Beautiful cherry blossom design in pink
Beautiful cherry blossom design in pink

We have decided to also publish our vector illustrations on For this purpose we have created a new section of resources with the name “Vector Illustrations“. For now it offers the result files of the tutorials we wrote, but sometimes with a bit of a twist. For example, I made the delicate pink cherry blossom floral design also available as a sweet baby blue design. All illustrations are available in eps and Inkscape svg format and printables of 12″x12” at 300dpi – and for now – free for personal use.

Creating seamless patterns with Inkscape

Fancy Flower Design - seamless pattern
Fancy Flower Design - seamless pattern

Today I messed a bit around in Inkscape. I have created a lot of seamless patterns in the past, mostly for 3D renders. I usually start with a picture and do some typical things like offset 50% vertical and 50% horizontal, blur and mask to make seams invisible. Of course image editors like Photoshop / PSP/ CorelPaint are very suitable for this kind of jobs. Add to that the procedural rendering that MapZone can do and voila… seamless texture.

So what was new today? I messed (once again) with cloned tiles in Inkscape. I drafted a pattern that is used for some custom stationary, and then I thought that I might as well put it up as free for personal use on

Inkscape is VERY suitable for seamless pattern creation, but the workflow is not so obvious. I followed the procedure as described in Tavmjong’s guide, but I found it not so easy to follow, and in my humble opinion, some steps are not needed if the only thing you need out of Inkscape is an exported bitmap with your seamless texture. So I think I found material for a new tutorial too – now just to find time to actually write it… that may take a few days. So for now have a look at these pretty textures and grab them at high resolution from VSD.