Inkscape is one of the best free scalable vector graphics (SVG) applications. This renders it ideal for creating graphics that keep their looks no matter their size, and most of all, logos. Although Inkscape offers a sizable collection of tools, you can make a simple logo by only using one or two of them.
Since Inkscape is one of the most popular open-source graphics applications, many Linux distributions come with it pre-installed. If yours doesn’t include it, seek it through your distribution’s official App Store. If you don’t mind using commands and are on a Debian-based distribution, you can install it with:
Inkscape’s default mode for new documents has them in portrait orientation. Most logos have a larger width than height, so it’s better to set the page setup as landscape.
To do this, select “File -> Document Properties” and change the orientation, right under the Page Size(s) list, to landscape.
Select the twelfth tool from the application’s toolbar, depicting a small pencil with a line that looks like a shadow underneath. Alternatively, press Shift + F6. This tool allows you to draw straight lines and bezier curves.
Inkscape – and most of its tools – allow you to design whatever you want, wherever you want, starting from anywhere on the blank page. Sometimes, as in the case of designing a logo, some restrictions on all this freedom are quite helpful. And with “restrictions,” we’re talking about “guides,”
The use of guides can help control the geometry of a drawing. By acting as magnets, a click next to them changes where a point will be placed, “teleporting it” onto them. The proper placement of guides can turn them into a rough “skeleton” on which to create the final design.
Creating guides in InkScape (as well as in many other applications of the same genre) is accessible through a hidden shortcut: hold down the left mouse button on one of the two rulers that appear at the edges of the page and drag it to the point where you want a guide. Depending on whether you pulled the ruler from the top or left of the page, you’ll create either a horizontal or vertical guide.
To make designing your logo much more comfortable, we suggest you create a matrix of guides not much different than what you can see in our screenshot.
Lines, curves and junctions
In our case, we designed an alternative “MTE” logo for Make Tech Easier – just those three letters. Most likely, you will want to create something different, so instead of giving strict and specific instructions on where and how to click, we will describe what we did and why we did it.
We began by drawing the letter “m.” As with most letters, we’d need both straight lines and curves. It’s easier – or, at least, we think it is – starting with a simple straight line. We (mentally) selected a vertical guide to the left of the page on which we’d like to place our first vertical line.
We clicked on a junction with a horizontal guide in the bottom left. We then clicked on an intersection with a horizontal guide on the top left. The result was a vertical line on the vertical guide, starting and ending at its junctions with the horizontal guides.
Although we’d created our first line, we were far from done: the selected tool remained active and on hold, waiting for our next move. By moving to different parts of the screen, we could see a live preview of the results of our next click. At least, if our next click would result in another straight line instead of a curve.
Defining a Shape
The selected lines & Bezier curves tool creates a sequence of lines and curves. Each new click specifies the end of the previous line and the beginning of the next one.
To create a curve instead of a line, keep the left mouse button pressed instead of clicking and depressing it. Then, with the left button still held down, drag your mouse around. You will see on the screen that the line changes to a curve, with its curvature and angle defined by the cursor’s position.
The process of drawing a shape is completed by going back to where it all began, with one last click on the same, existing point from where you started.
By defining lines and curves through a series of sequential clicks, you can draw almost anything you can imagine. It’s not a matter of talent but patience, will, and determination. Even if, as in our case seen in our picture, this was just the letter “m.”
By repeating the previous steps, we designed two more letters to complete our logo. But they were white, or to be precise, blank, over a white background. Not the best for a logo.
To give any shape a color, select it, and then choose the color you want it to have. It’s as easy as it sounds, at least when you know which button does what. Click on the first of the available tools, which shows an arrow, or press F1 on the keyboard. This is the selection tool. With it active, you can click on any shape you want to selector left-click and drag a rectangle around it.
You can select multiple shapes at once by either dragging a rectangle around all of them or by sequentially clicking on them with Shift held down.
To assign a color to any selected / active shapes, either click on the desired shape on the color palette at the bottom of the screen or click and drag it on the object you’d like to assign it to. Note that, in this specific case, the second method will only assign a color to the outline of the letters since they’re, for the moment, blank.
Our logo was almost ready. Using the selection tool, we picked up the letters one by one and brought them closer together. We then replaced the funny-looking multicolor extravaganza we used in our previous step for example’s sake, with a more serious-looking typical black. Finally, we hid the guides by disabling their display from “View -> Guides,” to be able to see clearly the result of our work without annoying lines all over the page.
Remember to Save!
The final step when designing something is almost always a last visit to “File -> Save.” Inkscape does not use any weird storage format and is fully compatible with the widely-used Scalable Vector Graphics format, better known as “SVG.”
Files of this type store graphics as mathematical equations, so they look pristine no matter the size of the display. It’s also worth noting that all current browsers are compatible with it. and have been for most of the last decade, which means you can use your logo directly in SVG format on your site. It will be quicker to display, “cleaner looking,” and more compression-friendly compared to your average JPEG or PNG file.