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Old 11-08-2009, 07:22 PM   #1
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Default Pattern making with Inkscape & Xara Xtreme - tutorials

Hi folks

A number of people have asked about how to make line drawing patterns on the computer for intarsia and segmentation work so I've decided to help out by making some simple video tutorials using the open source vector illustrating program Inkscape.

The techniques used in Inkscape are common to most vector based programs such as Coreldraw, Adobe Illustrator and my particular favourite, Xara Xtreme

I urge folks to check out these tutorials if only to see that the production of quality scaleable drawings on the computer is not the complicated task its often made out to be and once you have learnt how to use these programs I can guarantee you won't look back.

For the moment I am not looking deeply into the interface of Inkscape - there is an online help manual available which gives plenty of information - instead I'm going to dive straight in and start using the program.

One slight problem. I'm new to producing video tutorials in this fashion, as such the files may be a little large for direct viewing unless you have a decent bandwidth internet connection. For folks on slow bandwidth connections I suggest you download the files to view at your leisure off-line

For off-line viewing download the files to your PC by right clicking on the links and choosing Save link as - in Firefox or Save target as ... in IE and saving to the folder of your choice. To view the downloaded files offline open them up in your browser or view it in any standalone Flash Player or media player which supports Flash
Inkscape tutorial 1 - Drawing and editing vector paths -download size approx. 24 Mb

update 10jan2010
- This first tutorial has been updated. If you downloaded before this date please check out this new version

Inkscape Tutorial 2 - The first of a three part tutorial - A simple approach to tracing line drawings -download size approx. 17 Mb
For anyone who wants to follow this tutorial using the same penguin clipart you can download the image here
Inkscape Tutorial 2 - The second part of - A simple approach to tracing line drawings -download size approx. 15 Mb

Inkscape Tutorial 2 - The third and final part of - A simple approach to tracing line drawings -download size approx. 32 Mb

Inkscape Tutorial 3 - Part 1 Objects, Paths, Lines and Shapes -download size approx. 17 Mb

Inkscape Tutorial 3 - Part 2 Interacting Objects & Paths, -download size approx. 22Mb

Inkscape Tutorial 3 - Part 3 Why draw Patterns from Closed Paths -download size approx. 11Mb

Inkscape Tutorial 4- Part 1 Drawing patterns from closed paths - preparation -download size approx. 12Mb

Inkscape Tutorial 4- Part 2 Drawing patterns from closed paths - starting drawing -download size approx. 28Mb

Inkscape Tutorial 4- Part 3 Drawing patterns from closed paths - drawing continued -download size approx. 30Mb

Inkscape Tutorial 4- Part 4 Drawing patterns from closed paths - finishing the drawing, colouring and printing -download size approx. 33Mb

For more Inkscape tutorials relating to general pattern making and printing check out the Sticky threads here Scroll Saw Design Tutorials - Scroll Saw Woodworking & Crafts Message Board

Thread update - Xara Xtreme tutorial 07Dec-09 - Here is a very rough and ready 40 min tutorial in Quick Time .mov format. Note that the file size is 62 Mb. The tutorial can be viewed online in your browser provided you have the QuickTime plugin installed and you are on a reasonably fast internet connection speed. Alternatively download from the link and then play it offline in your browser, or in any media player that supports the .mov file format - a good choice is the freeware media player Gom Player. Note that viewing in a media player will allow you to expand the size of the screen a little if you wish.

Here's the link - Xara Xtreme - pattern making for Intarsia work - if you have any questions post them in the thread

Happy pattern making!
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Jim in Mexico

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Last edited by jim_mex; 02-25-2010 at 01:09 PM.
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Old 11-09-2009, 10:55 AM   #2
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Great work, Jim! These are great!!!

I'd love to host these videos on our site!

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Old 11-12-2009, 08:24 PM   #3
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Well Jim, I have been playing around with inkscape using the techniques from your tutorials. Just anxious to post what I had done. I can't wait for part 3 to see if I'm even close with how I did it.


I got one eye.... kind of, but couldn't get the other!! This is way harder than I thought it would be!! Anyway, I will wait with patience for the next installment!! Thanks for guiding us through this!!
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Old 11-12-2009, 11:56 PM   #4
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@ Cathy - Well that wasn't too bad an attempt but i think you'll find part 2 will resolve the mystery. One tip here. I find it helps if i draw the parts of a line drawing pretty much as I would cut them. By this i mean I isolate the drawing into shapes rather than drawing a profile as you have done. You'll see that this becomes important when I tackle the subject of drawing for intarsia patterns where prior to printing I tend to separate the cutting parts of a pattern so I don't have to print out so many copies to be cut up. Also this technique gives me the ability to colour a line drawing to simulate how a finished design might look.

Having said all this you get 10 out of 10 for running before you walk and that's something i also tend to do a lot so you are not on your own!

Looking forward to seeing your next penguin drawing

Video update[/B]

I just uploaded the second installment to tracing a pattern in Inkscape but found a glitch where for some reson the video player freezes near the end. I think i need to re-encode this and try again. This will take another couple of hours of computer time so I've deleted the link and will put it up again as soon as I can

Jim in Mexico

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Old 11-13-2009, 08:33 PM   #5
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More good stuff, Jim.

It looks like 2b and 2c are both the same though.

Very different from how I do things. I almost never use lines, but almost always compose my patterns out of shapes (I'd create a closed shape for the whole head, one for the eyes, one for the nose etc.) That also lets me color things without the strange wooden sticks you refer to.

Do you find that lines give an advantage, or is it just a different style / way of thinking?

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Old 11-13-2009, 09:57 PM   #6
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Hi again Rob! - To get back to your comments - You'll see the answers in the final part of the tracing video - I was just keeping you in suspense by not uploading it correctly - LOL!

But to pick up on your comments - like you I almost always draw in shapes but it depends a lot on what type of work i am doing. If its segmentation cutting then its just as easy to draw in lines and quicker. This is how i re drew Sarah's magpie as this project was really a segmentation cutting technique even though i used a couple of different woods. If however I was making an intarsia pattern its much more convenient to draw with shapes so I can 'break up' the drawing prior to printing and minimise the number of copies i need to print for cutting.

However, the main reason i used the line approach in this tutorial is I wanted to show to newcomers that with the bare minimum of info that I gave in the first Tutorial on line drawing it is perfectly feasible and easy to draw or trace using vector graphics - whether simple or complicated. If you think about it this is exactly how most folks draw with pen and paper.

One other comment, the terminology Inkscape uses for manipulating shapes is a pig's ear - confusing and not very logical. I know you've been trying Xara Xtreme and believe you me that is a silk purse by comparison. My next tutorial is on shapes and you'll see what I mean !

Thanks a bunch though for pointing out the problems, not only does it help me wipe the egg off of my face pretty quick but you raised a good point which I otherwise might have forgot about

Jim in Mexico

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Old 11-14-2009, 03:30 AM   #7
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I am so impressed with your tutorials.I have always had trouble getting my patterns to be symetrical and being about to trace over an image and still see the image is terrific. I want to thank you so much for all your hard work. If I sat down and read all that material, I would have gotten lost pretty close to the beginning. I opened your tutorial and inkscape side by side and worked on the penguin and am so happy with being able to do it like that. Here is my penguin. I know that it is not as rounded as I would have liked at some points but as I do more patterns I will learn how to get them more rounded. Thank you so very much. I really can't thank you enough. I really can see why people want to "clean up my patterns now" LOL
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Old 11-14-2009, 10:54 AM   #8
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It worked for me now Jim........just finished watching the last part of part 2, and there was no freeze up. You've mastered another project. THANK YOU very much for taking time with this endeavor. You wouldn't believe how long I've had Inkscape, and tried to learn it, you sir are a natural born teacher. I will put my new found knowledge to work later this afternoon, and see what I can come up with. Thanks again.
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Old 11-14-2009, 01:33 PM   #9
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Love the tutorial series! You did a bang up job with your penguin drawing illustration. You are to be commended for taking the time to produce the videos.


Your penguin looks fine. Don't worry about rounding if the pattern is for yourself. After you print it out you can take a sharp pencil and round off any edges that offend you. Or you can do the rounding as you cut the pattern on the scroll saw. I would only worry about making a perfect pattern if you were going to mass distribute it or make an intarsia pattern.


I traced the penguin in Corel Draw in 23 minutes. I wasn't trying to set any speed records, nor am I bragging. I only want to show that tracing patterns is fairly easy once you master the techniques. Corel Draw works a whole lot like Inkscape using similar tools.

Notice that I have some shapes and a couple of lines. Had I wanted to make my drawing for an intarsia pattern I would have created all shapes. Then the total time for the drawing would have expanded by 15 minutes. Still making an intarsia pattern in less than an hour is pretty good.

I hope Jim's tutorials create a stir, bringing out a few budding pattern artists.
-- Rick --

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Old 11-14-2009, 01:37 PM   #10
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King Tut,
You truly have lived up to your new moniker. I found this very informative and extremely useful. I am a pretty computer-savvy guy and can usually pick up programs fairly easily. For some reason I have found graphic programs intimidating. I think it it is because, like you said in the tutorial, there are so many bells, whistles, and features available, it is overwhelming to the novice. You have de-mystified the process and made it much less intimidating. I have had Adobe Illustrator sitting on my computer for a little over a year now and would have never dreamed of using it for intarsia pattern-making. You have opened my eyes to the possibilities and I just may venture to it when I need to make my next pattern.

Thank-you, thank-you, thank-you
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