Inkscape: Modifying an object via its nodes

In Inkscape, it doesn't matter if you can't draw decent curves. You can always manipulate an object via its node control points. Knowing how to do this will let you do just about anything you need to do with Inkscape, or any other vector drawing tool.

This short tutorial shows you how to turn a generic circle into a heart, simply by adjusting the nodes.

First, draw a circle using the Circle tool. It doesn't matter if it's not perfect, you can always adjust it later.

Next, convert the circle into a path. Do this via Path->Object to Path. Note that the circle now has four control nodes. The control nodes will appear whenever you click on the Node Tool icon on the toolbar.

Note also the appearance of the Node Toolbar when the Node Tool icon is selected. The icons themselves are self-explanatory, but we'll take each one up in future installments.

For now, our concern are these three node icons and their actions. They correspond to the three types of nodes: corner nodes, rounded nodes, and symmetrical rounded nodes.

Corner nodes can be sharp. Grab either of the node handles and you can turn each one any which way. That segment of the path will follow the node handle. In our heart example, note that we turn the top and bottom nodes into corner nodes.

Rounded nodes will always be smooth and rounded. The two control points will always form a line tangent to the curve segment.

Symmetrical rounded nodes are similar to rounded nodes, except that the control nodes are always equidistant from each other. This will affect how the curve segments on either side of the node appear.

Experiment a bit to see how your object appears as you move the nodes and the node handles around. You can also add nodes, delete them, join them apart, and break them.

Have fun!