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Inkscape: The Nodes Tool and Working with Paths

So far, in this tutorial, we have discussed two basic shapes: an ellipse, and a rectangle. Shapes have controls that you can use to modify them. You can convert shapes to paths.

Paths do not have controls, but you can manipulate them in many ways. Once you convert a shape to a path, you cannot convert it back.

Paths have gray squares  and/or circles on them called nodes; nodes have handles. A node handle is a line with a circle on the end. The location of the nodes and handles determine the shape of the path. A line between two nodes is called a segment. You can change the shape of a segment by dragging it or by adjusting the handles. You can change the location of nodes by dragging them. You can add, delete, move, and perform many other actions on nodes. You use the Node tool to manipulate nodes. You can also use the Node tool to select objects. The videos and text that follow are designed to help you understand how to work with paths and nodes.

Convert a Shape to a Path

  1. Select the shape you want to convert.
  2. Click Path > Object to Path, click the Convert the Selected Object to Path icon ( ), or press Shift + Ctrl + C. Inkscape converts the shape to a path.
  3. Click the Node tool or press F2. Inkscape displays the nodes.

Use the Node Tool to Select an Object

  1. Click the Node tool or press F2.
  2. Click the object you want to select.

Select a Single Node

  1. Use the Node tool to select a path.
  2. Click the node you want to select. Inkscape selects the node.

Select Multiple Nodes

  1. Use the Node tool to select a path.
  2. Click the first node.
  3. With the Shift key held down, continue clicking nodes until you have selected all the nodes you want. Inkscape highlights the selected nodes.

Or

  1. Use the Node tool to select a path.
  2. Click and drag around the nodes you want to select. Inkscape highlights the selected nodes.

Or

  1. Use the Node tool to select a path.
  2. Click a segment (the line between two nodes). Inkscape selects and highlights the nodes on both ends of the line.

Move a Node

  1. Select the node the node you want to move.
  2. Drag the node.

Adjust a Segment

  1. Use the Node tool to select the segment you want to reshape.
  2. Click and drag the segment.

Use Handles to Adjust a Line

  1. Use the Node tool to select a path.
  2. Click and drag the proper handle until the line is the shape you want.

Add a Node

  1. Use the Node tool to select a segment.
  2. Click the Insert New Node into Selected Segments icon. Inkscape adds a node at the mid-point.

Or

  1. Use the Node tool to select a path.
  2. Double click on a segemnt. Inkscape adds a node.

Or

  1. Use the Node tool to select a path.
  2. Hold down the Ctrl and Alt key while you click the object. Inkscape adds a node.

If handles get in the way of adding a node, click the Show Bezier Handles of Selected Nodes icon on the Tool Controls Bar to toggle the handles off.

Delete a Node

  1. Use the Nodes tool to select the path that has the nodes you want to delete.
  2. Select the nodes.
  3. Click the Delete Selected Nodes icon. Inkscape deletes the nodes.

Or

  1. Use the Nodes tool to select the path that has the nodes you want to delete.
  2. Select the nodes.
  3. Press the Delete key. Inkscape deletes the nodes.

Or

  1. Use the Nodes tool to select the path that has the nodes you want to delete.
  2. Select the nodes.
  3. Press the Backspace key. Inkscape deletes the nodes.

Join Two Endnodes with a Segment

  1. Select the nodes you want to join with a segment.
  2. Click the Join Selected Endnodes with a New Segment icon or press Alt + J. Inkscape connects the nodes with a segment.

Join Nodes

  1.  Select the nodes you want to join.
  2.  Click the Join Selected Nodes icon or press Shift + J. Inkscape joins the nodes.

Break Path at Nodes

  1.  Select the nodes you want to break apart.
  2.  Click the Break Path at Selected nodes icon or press Shift + B. Inkscape brakes the path at the nodes you selected.

Delete a Segment

  1. Use the Node tool to select the segment you want to delete.
  2. Click the segment you want to delete. Inkscape selects the nodes at both ends.
  3. Click the Delete Segment between Two Non-endpoint Nodes icon. Inkscape deletes the segment between two nodes.

Create Corner Nodes

Use the Make Selected Nodes Corner icon to create sharp corners. A diamond node indicates corners. This type of node is also referred to as a cusp node

  1. Use the Node tool to select the path.
  2.  Select the nodes you want to turn into sharp corners.
  3.  Click the Make Selected Nodes Corner icon (you make have to click it twice) or press Shift + C. Inkscape converts the node into a sharp corner.

Create Smooth Nodes

Use the Make Selected Nodes Smooth icon to create curved lines with handles that work independently of one another. A square node indicates smooth lines.

  1. Use the Node tool to select the path.
  2. Select the nodes you want to turn into curves.
  3. Click the Make Selected Nodes Smooth icon or press Shift + S. Inkscape converts the node to a curve.

Use the Make Selected Nodes Symmetric icon to create curved lines with handles that work symmetrically.

  1. Use the Node tool to select the path.
  2. Select the nodes you want to turn into curves.
  3. Click the Make Selected Nodes Symmetric icon or press Shift + Y. Inkscape converts the node to a curve.

Use the Make Selected Nodes Auto-smooth icon to create a node the maintains a smooth path as you drag it.

  1. Use the Node tool to select the path.
  2. Select the nodes you want.
  3. Click the Make Selected Nodes Auto-smooth icon or press Shift + A. Inkscape converts the nodes to a node that maintains a smooth path.

 

Key Function
! Inverts the node selection. Deselects all of the nodes that are selected and selects all of the nodes that are not  selected.
Shift + D Duplicates a  node.
[ Rotates handle clockwise.
] Rotates handle counter-clockwise.
Tab Selects the next node in the path.
Ctrl + drag Locks in the vertical position of a node if you drag horizontally. Locks in the horizontal position if of a node you drag vertically.

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