When I first started using Inkscape, I read Inkscape: Guide to a Vector Drawing Program by Tavmjong Bah, 3rd edition. It’s now in its 4th edition, which I have not seen.
I received a copy of The Book of Inkscape by Dmitry Kirsanov recently, and it looks like the book I would have preferred to start with. Both books are fine introductions, but Kirsanov’s book is more my style.
Bah’s book is more inductive. It teaches you the elements of Inkscape by first taking you through a series of projects. Kirsanov’s book is organized more like a textbook or a reference. Some people would prefer Bah’s book, especially if it were their intention to work through all the exercises. I prefer Kirsanov’s book, organized more by topic than by project. It’s easier to dip in and out of as needed.
I’d like to learn Inkscape well. I could imagine going through a book slowly, carefully working all the examples, exploring side roads, etc. But that’s not realistic for me any time soon. For now, I expect I’ll learn more about Inkscape just-in-time as I need to make illustrations. And Kirsanov’s book is better suited for that.
More Inkscape posts
My previous post described how to include an Inkscape drawing in a LaTeX document. This post describes how to use LaTeX in an Inkscape drawing, which is probably more useful. The LaTeX output is included not as bitmap but as a vector drawing that can then be manipulated with all the features of Inkscape.
The Inkscape book describes the InkLaTeX extension, but the web site for
InkLaTeX recommends a newer extension textext. Once
textext is installed, you can insert LaTeX into an Inkscape drawing by going to the Extensions menu and selecting “TeX Text”. This launches a window in which to type your LaTeX source.
Before I could install
textext, I had to install
textext extension also requires LaTeX and Ghostscript, but these were already on my computer.
pstoedit has several installation options; I chose the default basic option and that worked. Also,
pstoedit says that it requires two Visual C++ runtime DLLs:
msvcp70.dll. I already had these, but the
pstoedit site gives a link to where you can find these DLLs if you need them.
I had Inkscape running when installed
textext and I had to restart Inkscape to see the “TeX Text” menu.
Related post: Including an Inkscape drawing in LaTeX
The Inkscape drawing package can export to a large variety of vector drawing formats, including LaTeX. If you save your drawing to a file
foo.tex, you can include the file in a LaTeX document as follows.
Testing Inkscape \LaTeX\ output.
Of course you could always export the drawing to an image format and include that image the way you’d include any other image. But you also have the option of directly including the content Inkscape output in your LaTeX file rather than referencing it as an external file using the
input statement. This makes your LaTeX file self-contained and is something you could not do, for example, with a PNG file.
- You must use the
- You must compile the file with
latex and not
pdflatex. To create a PDF file, you must first compile to PostScript.
The next post is a sort of opposite of this one. It explains how to use LaTeX inside an Inkscape drawing.
Why would you want to plot a mathematical function using a drawing package like Inkscape rather than a mathematical package like Mathematica or R? One reason is that you may want plot for its visual properties. For example, you might want to include a sine wave in a drawing.
Another reason is that you may want to have more control (or at least easier control) over your plot. Mathematical packages make it easy to produce a basic plot with default options. But I’ve found it difficult to change the aesthetics of a plot in every mathematical package I’ve used. The things I want to do are often possible but require arcane options that I have trouble remembering. In a drawing program, it’s obvious how to manipulate a plot as an image.
Inkscape provides a couple extensions to include function plots in a drawing. One is “Function Plotter” and the other is “Parametric Curves.” Both are found under Extensions -> Render. The following dialog shows the settings used to produce the graph above.
The first time I tried using these extensions nothing happened. Then I discovered you have to select a rectangle to contain the plot before creating a plot; the plotting tools do not create their own rectangles.
The Function Plotter supports rectangular and polar coordinates. You’re in for quite a surprise if you expect rectangular coordinates when the polar coordinates box is checked.