Angled guides and snapping for Inkscape beginners

Angled guides and snapping for Inkscape beginners

Inkscape's v0.46 was the first version that got angled guides. Along with advanced snapping introduced in later versions it makes accomplishing certain tasks much easier. Let's see how.

If you can recall your geometry course (the planimetrics part), a line is something that goes directly through two points.

What's a line

The fun thing about angled guides in Inkscape is that they honor geometry by having two snapping items: 1) the guide origin, which works as the rotation center, and 2) any other part of the guide's line.

Let's say you are designing an 'A' letter or adjusting someone else's design. You more or less like the outcome, but you want to push the crossbar higher to see if this might improve it. (By the way, it's usually recommended to design everything on paper first, and vectorize later.)

The initial letter

If you try to just select the nodes and shift them higher, your diagonals get distorted (red version). How do you preserve them (yellow version)?

Distorted and undistorted crossbars

This is where angled guides and snapping kick in to save the day.

First of all, make sure you have snapping enabled, and especially snapping of cusp nodes in this particular case.

Then drag a guide from a ruler so that it's origin snaps to one of the point on a diagonal line. Dragging a guide from the upper left part of the rulers automatically created a 45° guide which is a bit more convenient for working on diagonal lines.

Automatic angled guide and snapping

Now you need to rotate this guide in a way that it goes exactly above the inner diagonal line of the 'A' letter. So, following the geometry definition mentioned above, you need the guide to go through two points of that diagonal path.

Hover the guide with the Selector or the Node tool and press Shift. Then start dragging the mouse pointer towards the cusp node where two inner diagonal lines of the letter meet:

Corrected angled guide

Your guide is exactly above the first diagonal line of the letter now. Repeat the process for the opposite diagonal line.

The second guide

Now you are set to go. With the Node tool do a rubberband selection around the four crossbar nodes:

Selecting crossbar nodes

Use arrow keys (with Alt for smaller steps) to push the crossbar nodes higher.

Shifted crossbar nodes

And now let's restore the inner diagonals. Select the two left nodes of the crossbar:

Two left nodes of the crossbar selected

Press the Ctrl key to lock the direction of displacement to just vertical / horizontal, and drag the selected nodes to the right till they snap to the guide:

First corrected crossbar nodes

Repeat for the two other nodes of the crossbar, and it's done.

Last corrected crossbar nodes

The whole thing takes about half a minute.

You can move the guide's origin along the guide's line: just hover any part of the guide, press Ctrl and start dragging.

The same idea can be used to place multiple objects in parallel to a straight path: create a guide that's parallel to it, shift that guide, snap other objects to it.

Placing objects in parallel to a path

By the way, you may have noticed that I customized guide colors. I don't really like the use of RGB primaries throughout Inkscape's interface. It makes Inkscape look like something made in 90s. Here is what I have:

Guide colors setup

For guide color I use 0092ff7f, and for highlight color I use ff52007f. If you don't want to do that for every single new document, learn how you can make a great use of Inkscape templates.

Was it useful? There's more:

12 Responses. Comments closed for this entry.

  1. Clear and simple.

  2. Thanks, this was useful and clear.

    A tutorial that I would find of great value is the use of the Filters / Filter Editor dialogue.  Looks like a powerful tool, but it is hard to understand how to use it.

    A YouTube tut would be great!

  3. Alexandre Prokoudine 31 July 2012 at 10:42 am

    Thanks, Steve :) I secretly hope that a superhero (or maybe a supervillain) will come and redo the dialog to make it friendlier. Until then, perhaps, some sort of a guide is due.

    OTOH, make sure you’ve read — Tav made a very decent work documenting Inkscape. His manual is next to being an official one.

  4. Clare Bertelson 08 August 2012 at 3:16 pm

    Great tutorial, I will use it when creating a special font for my new site

  5. Great article; it is archived in my Inkscape web repository.

    I also have an off-topic question; for the last screenshot in the tutorial with the Document Properties window - how did you achieve that effect (fade out of the window); can you tell me? I like it a lot ;). Thanks.

  6. Alexandre Prokoudine 11 September 2012 at 8:45 am

    Razvan, you mean “FG to transparent” gradient mode in GIMP? :)

  7. WOW, really amazing. I used to drag some angled guides by accident but never know how to bring it out again. Thanks!

  8. Alexandre Prokoudine 12 October 2012 at 4:16 pm

    @Kreaninw And for 135° guides you can drag from far end of both rulers ;-)

  9. Thanks.Just what I needed to know.

  10. This guide is great.
    How would one go about creating a parallel guideline? Let’s say I wanted to draw another line parallel to one side of the “A”. Is there a way to copy/paste guidelines, or otherwise constrain one guide to be parallel to another?

  11. Alexandre Prokoudine 30 March 2015 at 2:11 pm

    @Allan, you can double-click on a guide, copy the angle to clipboard, create new guide, and paste the angle from clipboard. Would that work for you?

  12. Clear explanation with neat diagrams. thank you