Inkscape FAQ: How do I crop in Inkscape?

One of the most frequently asked questions from Inkscape users is “how do i crop an image or object?”. Inkscape is primarily a vector graphics editor, so when someone asks this question, they could possibly mean something slightly different to a traditional image crop. This FAQ explains a few of the techniques that people actually mean when they say they want to crop in inkscape.

What do you mean when you say “crop”

  • If you have a single path or object (like a star or a rectangle), and want to trim or crop that object down, then Boolean Operations is probably what you need. (click here to jump to how to do this)
  • If you are exporting your inkscape document (SVG) to a bitmap (a PNG) with the “File > Export Bitmap” command, and want to only export a portion of your document, then changing the document size, and just exporting the document is probably the solution for your needs. (click here to jump to how to do this)



The Clipping feature is an easy and versatile way to crop vector or bitmap/raster objects in Inkscape. Let’s start with our little monster friend that i downloaded from the Open Clip Art Library:

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How do you rotate in inkscape?

How do i rotate is one of the most frequently asked questions for beginner Inkscape users. There are multiple ways to rotate in inkscape, and this FAQ will show you the basics for four of them. The three different ways for rotating objects are: the toolbar buttons, the on-canvas rotation handles, transform dialog, and the keyboard shortcuts.

Method 1, the toolbar buttons

Rotating with the toolbar buttons only lets you rotate objects 90 degrees at a time. To rotate with the toolbar buttons, first choose the select tool:

Next, select the object that you want to rotate by simply clicking on it. Once you have clicked on the group once, arrows  and a dotted line should appear around the object:

Finally, press the rotate button on the toolbar to rotate your selection in 90 degree increments.

Method 2, Rotate on Canvas

Using the toolbar buttons to rotate objects in inkscape is by far the easiest method to discover. However, it only lets you rotate in 90 degree increments.

For a wider range of motion, using the on-canvas rotate handles is the way to go. As with the previous method, choose the select tool, and then select the object that you wish to rotate. The select box and handles should appear as before:

Now that the resize handles are visible, simply click on the object again to display the rotate handles:

Now that the rotate handles are visible, simply click on one of them, and drag it to rotate your object freely.

Method 3, the Transform dialog.

The free rotate that the on-canvas rotate controls (method 2) give are great, but what if you need more accurate control? When using method 2, you can hold down the ctrl key to limit the rotation to 15 degree increments, but what if you want to rotate the object by a specific, arbitary amount?

That is where the transform dialog comes in. First, as with the other methods, select the object that you want to rotate. Then open the transform dialog from the menu, Object > Transform.

Switch to the “Rotate” tab of the newly opened Transform Dialog, enter in how many degrees you need your object rotated, and click apply to rotate.

Method 4, the keyboard shortcuts

This method is super simple. Select the object(s) that you wish to rotate, and press the square brackets key( [ or) to rotate left and right by chunks.

For finer-grained rotation with the keyboard shortcuts, use the shortcuts alt + [ and alt + ] to rotate one degree at a time.

The four methods above outline the basics of rotating objects in inkscape. For further information about rotating and transforming objects in Inkscape the “Select Tool” chapter of the Inkscape Manual has more detailed information, including how to change the rotation point or rotation center of your object. The transforms chapter of Tav’s Inkscape Guide also provides some in-depth documentation of rotating in Inkscape.

Creating Interactive SVGs

Here is a tutorial from Máirín Duffy explaining how to quickly implement interactivity into your inkscape SVGs. The approach the Máirín Duffy takes is great for when you need an Inkscape SVG to have a small amount of interactivity, like a basic User Interface Mockup. However, this approach probably would not scale if for more complex interactive SVGs.




Inkscape pro tip: resizing or rotating selected nodes of a path

A little known feature that was introduced in Inkscape 0.48 was the ability to resize and rotate selected nodes in a path using on-screen handles. These handles behave in the same manner as when rotating or resizing objects with the select tool.

Enabling the onscreen handles

To use this feature, first you need to enable it, so you need to select the Node tool from the toolbox, then flip the toggle to enable display of the resize / rotate handles for nodes:


Resizing nodes

Now, with the feature enabled, select 2 or more nodes, and the resize handles should appear around them in the same way when you select an object with the selection tool.
Use these handles in the same manner to resize the nodes.


Note also that the ctrl and shift keys work to constrain the transformation in the same way as with the select tool.

Rotating Nodes

The same applies to rotating nodes. Select the nodes to be rotated, then single-click one of the nodes again to enter rotate mode.(just like when free rotating).  Now use the handles in the same to rotate the selected nodes.


Note also that the ctrl, shift and the rotation point all also work for rotating nodes as it does with the select tool.

Inkscape pro tip: How to select sequential nodes in a path

Have you ever been doing path manipulations in inkscape, and needed to select nodes in a path in order, yet it is too time consuming or tedious to select them the ways you normally do? When editing a path using inkscape’s path editing tool, the most common ways to select multiple nodes is either hold shift and click each individual node:

select-individualor to click and rubber band select the nodes that you require:


But what if you have too many nodes to select them individually, or the rubber band box selects more nodes than you need? Well, using a mouse with a scroll wheel, you can select nodes in a path in inkscape by:

  1. Clicking on a node with the path tool.
  2. Keep the pointer hovered over the node
  3. Hold down the control key, and wheel the scroll wheel up. Inkscape will select the next nodes in the path:


Create a Sticker with Dogeared Edge using inkscape

Here is a tutorial for creating a simple sticker with a folded edge. I originally posted it a few years back on my personal blog.

This is what we are aiming for:

Phase One:
1. Draw  a circle with the circle tool.
2. Using the path tool, draw a shape that intersects the circle for your “dogear”
3. Select the path and the circle and use Path>Cut Path.
And set the colours of both the paths that result from this.

Phase Two:
1. Select the “Dogear” (mine is black) and press flip vertical.
2. Then press flip horizontal.


Phase Three:
1. Select the main body of the sticker (mine is blue)
RightClick > Duplicate, then change the colour. (mine is pink)
2. Do it again and change the colour to something different again. (mine is green)
3.  Select the green one, and use the arrow keys to offset it a bit.
4. Then select both the green and pink objects and choose Path>Difference
5. Change the colour of the remaining path to black.
6. Open the stroke/fill dialog and play with transparency & blur31.png

Phase Four:
1. Duplicate the black “Dogear” object, and change the colour.
2. Select the black one (underneath) and play with the blur and transparency.
3. Duplicate the body of the sticker again.
4. Press CTRL+A to select all, then choose Object>Clip>Set
5. Add your text, and you are done!


Create platform video game blocks

In another tutorial from 2D Game Art for Programmers, Chris builds on his previous tutorial by showing you how to create simple blocks suitable for 2D side scrolling platform games just using the square tool in inkscape


This tutorial also reinforces the fact that basically everything that you draw in inkscape is just a lot of simple shapes that are put together to create a masterpiece. Chris goes on to show an awesome example of this in his tutorial, by producing a drawing of a castle, then showing all the simple shapes he used to construct it.squares2

Modifying your helicopter

So, you have followed the tutorial posted a few days ago, and created a cartoon helicopter of your own in Inkscape.

However, you have decided to do some modifications to your vehicle, adding extra weaponry and gadgets. Luckily, did a follow-up tutorial on how to modify your vector helicopter, which is pretty easy thanks to the power of Inkscape and SVG!