Book Review: The book of Inkscape: The definitive guide to the free graphic editor by Dmitry Kirsanov

Book Review: The book of Inkscape: The definitive guide to the free graphic editor by Dmitry Kirsanov


Inkscape is a mature SVG vector graphics editor. You can run it on a number of platforms including GNU/Linux and Windows. It has a rich set of features and is popular and actively maintained. The Book of Inkscape: the definitive guide to the free graphics editor, by Dmitry Kirsanov is a comprehensive guide of 476 pages that describes in detail the various parts of the software. The book also includes six chapter-size tutorials that emphasis the manipulative power of this feature rich editor.

Vector graphics defines pictures as a set of shapes such as circles, squares and other primitives. This implies that you can scale or shrink those pictures without losing the details. As a vector graphic normally contains a limited set of primitives the size of the files tend to be compact. Vector graphics are thus useful on websites. Raster graphics such as bitmaps represents images as a set of pixels. Digital photographs are raster images. As you zoom in on a raster image, you are limited by the size of the pixels. Tools such as Gimp are excellent editors for raster graphics.

SVG (Scalable Vector Graphic) is an XML based open standard. Most web browsers support the standard to various levels, although Internet Explorer appears to be behind in this area. SVG supports the idea that geometrical primitives are objects and allows the object information to be stored in XML. Inkscape mostly supports SVG and has a rich set of tools for manipulation.

The book's cover The book's cover

Inkscape is feature rich and thus potentially daunting for the first time user. Dmitry Kirsanovs book enables you to sit down with a freshly downloaded version of Inkscape and work in an ordered and logical way through the software features. The tutorials towards the end of the book reinforce the learning process and help you form an integrated view.

Dmitry Kirsanovs book enables you to sit down with a freshly downloaded version of Inkscape and work in an ordered and logical way through the software features.

The contents

The book of Inkscape contains 24 chapters, 4 appendices, and 474 pages. The first couple of chapters will introduce you to the program; the next 16 discuss a particular capability such as selecting, transforming, styling and drawing. I found the chapters logically ordered and were considerable help as I switched between reading and using the software. After getting to understand the interface and Inkscapes capabilities, the final six tutorial chapters were a sensible series of reinforcement exercises. Designing a business card was fun and the final tutorial on editing a rose gave me the positive feeling that I could create complex graphics.

After reading the book, I found the Open Clip Art Library an excellent source of graphical examples, which I manipulated in Inkscape to gain further experience.

There is also a companion website on Inkscape that keeps the content of the book valid during Inkscapes rapid evolution.

Who's this book for?

The book is for potential users of Inkscape who want to learn efficiently its structure.

Relevance to free software

The book is purely about Inkscape, an free software product based on open standards. In the introduction to the book, the author states that "... Inkscape’s appeal lies in its being the only professional-level vector editor which is fully open source and cross-platform". As such, Inkscape acts as viable competition to proprietary products such as Adobe illustrator. Other free software tools exist and you should form your own opinion; you can read of more software examples in a developing book on Free Software Magazine.

Inkscape’s appeal lies in its being the only professional-level vector editor which is fully open source and cross-platform

Pros

A practical book, the author has exposed all the most important features of Inkscape in a logical and consistent manner. The author has included valid example tutorials of a discrete size and pointed to the most helpful resources

Cons

If you are looking for a book on how to make the most out of vector graphics for your website, then this is not the first book to read.

Book
Title The Book of Inkscape : the definitive guide to the free graphics editor
Author Dmitry Kirsanov
Publisher NO STARCH PRESS
ISBN 9781593271817
Year 2009
Pages 476
CD included No
FS Oriented 10
Overall score 8

In short

Category: 

Author information

Alan Berg's picture

Biography

Alan Berg Bsc. MSc. PGCE, has been a lead developer at the Central Computer Services at the University of Amsterdam since 1998. In his spare time, he writes articles, book reviews and has authored three books. He has a degree, two masters and a teaching qualification. In previous incarnations, he was a technical writer, an Internet/Linux course writer, and a science teacher. He likes to get his hands dirty with the building and gluing of systems. He remains agile by playing computer games with his sons who (sadly) consistently beat him physically, mentally and morally at least twice in any given day.

You may contact him at reply.to.berg At chello.nl