I’ve done a couple other Inkscape tutorials about game design artwork. You can check those out:
Today I want to focus on one specific tool within Inkscape: Alignment.
If you don’t have the software, you can download it from their website: inkscape.org.
Let’s Line Things Up!
The tool I find I use the most within Inkscape is the alignment tool. I use it for every piece of artwork or graphic design that I make in Inkscape.
When you are working in Inkscape and desire to line things up, look for this icon:
Clicking that will open the Alignment options, which will look like this:
Let’s run down what those options are. Here is a new version of that image:
Instead of running through each of those things listed above I am going to provide a couple examples. At the end of this article you will find a the Inkscape file that I used for these examples. Feel free to download it and use it to get familiar with the alignment tools.
When aligning things the most important thing is understanding which object is the anchor. The anchor is the object that will not move when the command is applied. You can choose the anchor with the options from the “RELATIVE TO” box at the top, which are the following options:
- Last Selected
- First Selected
- Biggest Object
- Smallest Object
The three that I use the most are “Last Selected,” “First Selected,” and “Page.”
When selecting multiple items, if you chose the anchor last, then you should set RELATIVE TO to “Last Selected.” That way when you choose the alignment function, the anchor will appropriately stay put and the other objects will move.
Likewise, the “First Selected” option will cause the anchor to be the first object you select. Both of these options are nice because you can make sure you’ll know which object won’t be moving.
Using the “Page” option will align things with the page. The Page is represented by the black box in the middle of the canvas when opening a new document. I use this a ton when designing artwork for cards since it allows me to center things on the page. This one can come in very handy. You can align things to the center of the page by using these two alignment functions:
I’m going to use a circle and a block and show you how several of the functions work. After centering the block on the page I’ll be using the block as the anchor for the remaining alignments.
By treating the three circles as a group it allows for the whole group to be aligned without adjusting the relative locations of the objects in the group. Often I’ll just group objects myself before aligning them and then ungrouping them after the alignment. But feel free to do it however you like.
That’s Basically It
I have found that these alignment tools are very useful when making prototype artwork for my game designs. It allows you to consistently place things in the same spots. It allows you to make things line up correctly. And it allows Inkscape to help design your awesomeness!
Here is the file: BoardsAndBarleyAlignmentExample.svg
It is located in Google Drive and to get it to work you’ll have to download it. Please let me know if you have any questions. Thanks for reading.
There are a lot of you out there who are working on board game prototypes. Often those prototypes will utilize the ever popular cube. And that usually results in the cube being placed onto graphics such as cards or tiles or the board itself and then later on, in the rulebook. So today I wanted to give you a quick tutorial to show you how I make a cube for board game graphics using Inkscape.
You can create your own set of awesome looking Scalable Vector Graphics versions of cubes using the free Inkscape software. If you don’t have the software, you can download it from their website: inkscape.org.
Let’s Get Cubing!
Once you’ve downloaded and opened Inkscape you’ll see a plain canvas outlined in front of you. I like to leave it turned on, but you can turn off the “edges” if you visit the document properties under “File.”
What we are going to do first is click on the “Create 3D Boxes” icon on the left. Here is a picture showing what this should look like:
Click on the icon. Then click and drag within the framed region to create a generic box. It should look something like this:
You can see we’ve created a generic gray box. Now it’s time to make it look like a cube of awesomeness that you would be proud to include in your board game graphics!
So the next thing you should do is “shape” the box to look like a cube. This can be done by clicking and dragging the little diamonds on the corners of the generic box. Go ahead and try it out. Once you’ve dragged then to the positions of your liking then you might end up with something like this:
Assuming you’re pleased with the shape of you cube it’s then time to make it look good. Normally you can just click on an object using the “Select and Transform” icon (it’s the black arrow on the left). Once you’ve selected the “Select and Transform” icon, click on the cube. Then you can change the color by selecting any color from the color row at the bottom of Inkscape. But that’s not the way I do it. Why? Because you end up with a flat monotone cube of ugliness rather than a sweet cube of awesomeness. Here’s what it might look like:
Don’t be afraid! We can transform that cube from ugly to awesome in just a few easy steps! First, we’ll want to use the “Edit paths by node” tool, which is right below the “Select and Transform” icon. This one looks like a quarter of a circle, with three nodes, and a black arrow. By clicking on this icon you can then go and choose a specific face of the cube. Once you’ve selected a face of the cube you can then change its color without changing the other faces. In this next picture I have changed two of the faces and have selected the top face:
So I had selected the right face and made it a light green. Then I selected the left face and made it a dark green. Now with the top face selected I can choose its color, in this case an even lighter green. Now you should have something like this:
Just a side note, if you have trouble selected the individual faces, make sure you’ve chosen the “Edit Paths by Node” tool rather than the “Select and Transform” tool.
So we’ve got a green cube with differently colored faces. What’s next? I found that sometimes the hidden faces will show through along the edges. So we can change their colors too. This is a little tricky though, so follow closely.
Go ahead and click on the left face. Then what you want to do is press the “left” arrow on your keyboard to move the face over. Don’t use your mouse to drag it since it will be almost impossible to easily put it back in the right spot. It should look something like this:
With two of the three ugly faces exposed you can click on each one and change them to a color that matches your cube color. In this case I just choose a dark green for these two hidden faces. Then slide the moved left face back into place using your “right” arrow key. You can then move the right face or the top face to expose the third hidden side and change its color.
Now you’ve got your beautiful cube. You can call it quits right there if you want a nice simple cube. Just select the cube, click “File > Export Bitmap” and you can save it as a nice little .png file. And I also recommend saving the .svg file so that you don’t have to recreate the cube every time. But if you want to spruce it up a bit then keep reading!
Sometimes cubes can look better with a border. There’s a very easy way to create one. With the cube selected click on “Filters > ABCs > Black Outline” to get something like this:
Pretty dec, right! (Note: dec is short for “decent,” all the cool kids know that!) Just be careful because the smaller your cube the larger the border will appear relative to the cube.
If you don’t want a black outline there are other options, but it’s slightly more complicated. With the cube selected you’ll want to click on “Object > Fill and Stroke.” That will open a panel on the right. “Fill” will color the main area of the object. “Stroke” will add a border to the object. We want to use Stroke. Taking our border-less cube and applying a simple black stroke will result in a cube like this (Note, on the Stroke Style tab you will want to choose the “Round Join” option):
I am not a fan of the lines along each edge. It just doesn’t look that clean to me. So here’s my trick: duplicate the cube and apply a stroke to the copy in the back. To duplicate the cube make sure it is selected and then right click. On the pop up menu click “Duplicate.” This will create a duplicate directly on top of the original. Adding a stroke to the copy in back will show allow only the outside edges of the stroked cube to show past the unstroked cube. Then you can create cubes that look like this:
On the left is a duplicate cube with a blue stroke applied to the back copy. On the right is a duplicate cube with a blurred pink stroke applied to the back cube. One final note is that if you choose the duplicate cube option you will want to group the two together so that when moving them around you won’t have to constantly be lining them up.
Now you know how to use Inkscape to create nice looking cubes for your board game graphics! If you are a starving artist and you have little computer skills then I have a special bonus for you. I am supplying a .svg file for all of you with a slew of cubes that you can use freely without crediting me, without paying me, and without worrying about getting sued. Feel free to use this file and the cubes wherever you want, however you want, and in whatever way you want so long as you use them for the greater good! Here is an image of the .svg file:
To download it just click here: Google Drive > FreeUseCubesbyEdPMarriott.svg
Note, if you have trouble downloading the file from Google Drive you might want to allow third party cookies. You can read more here: http://productforums.google.com/forum/#!topic/docs/_pXrQmwkrGU . If you have further problems, please let me know!
And let me know how they work for you. Now get Cubing!