Inkscape Tutorial: Country Shading

vsd_tut_countryshading_previewThis tutorial is very easy and explains how to copy styles and filters between objects, how to re-use custom made filters and how to add them to the Inkscape menu. The tutorial concludes with a quick demonstration on how to create a tag and apply the installed country shading filters to it.

I assume little Inkscape knowledge, and the tutorial should be easy to follow for a beginning Inkscape artist.



Filters in Inkscape

Some people seem to think that advanced texturing in Inkscape is not an option. However Inkscape contains a neat filter editor that allows for a lot of options. The default installation comes with a lot of preset filters, but that doesn't mean that's the end of it. Inkscape allows you to define your own filters through the editor. You can then re-use your custom defined filters by copying styles (between files) or add them to the menu.

As I was tinkering a bit with different shadings for an illustration in country prim style - I thought it would be cool to make the created filters available as a freebie on Very Simple Designs.

First a bit more on how to re-use filters that are not part of the default Inkscape installation.

Re-Use of Custom Defined Filters

Option 1

Once a filter, or a colour or any other style for that matter exists in an Inkscape file, so when that style is DEFINED, you can re-use it with ease. For this you:

  1. Select the object that has the style that you want to re-use
  2. Select Edit > Copy from the menu (shortcut: Ctrl+C)
  3. Select the object(s) where you want the style applied
  4. Select Edit > Paste Style from the menu (shortcut: Ctrl+Shift+V)


Note: this copies ALL style elements... including the colour.


Option 2

Once a filter has been created in a file, or has been added to it via copy/paste (as in option 1) or by importing a file with custom filters, it can be easily re-used via the Filter Editor.

  1. Open the Filter Editor from menu Filters > Filter Editor. This will show a list is shown of all filters used in the current file.
  2. Select the object(s) to which you want to apply the style
  3. Tick the checkbox for the appropriate filter.


Note: if you don't know what filter to select from the list, simply "inspect" the original object: select it and check what filter is selected in the Filter Editor. If you copy objects multiple filters (with the same name) may show.


Option 3

As you can see from the above - re-using a filter is very easy, but requires some steps. So if you create a filter and know it will be re-used quite often - it is a good idea to add them to the menu.

You'll need an Inkscape .svg file that contains Filter Definitions. This file has no visible content - no vector objects and such, to the eye it appears to be empty. The filter definition file for the Country Shading Filters is attached to this article.

  1. Copy the file with filter definitions to the directory <Installation Location>/Inkscape/share/filters
  2. Restart Inkscape
  3. The new filters appear now in the Filters menu. For the Country Shading filters you'll find a new menu, with a total of 11 filter selections.


Note: this tutorial does not describe how to set up your own filters (as that requires a tutorial on its own) or how to set-up the filter definitions so that Inkscape can read them. More information about the latter is given in the README file that exists in the <Installation Location>/Inkscape/share/filters
directory. You'll need to add attributes to your custom filter via the XML editor.

IMPORTANT: if you'll add filters to your installation like this, please remember that they are NOT part of the default Inkscape installation. If you install a new version of Inkscape (and remove old files) these filters may not be filters available unless you add them again. If you add your own filters please keep a copy of your files in a safe location.


Cheat Sheet of all Country Shading Filters

The filter definition file at the bottom of this article contains all of the below filters. The cheat sheet shows the result of these filters against different base colours. Some filters work good with lighter base colours, others with darker colours. Some of the filters in the cheat sheet may appear to be similar, but will render differently depending on object size and colour. Experiment and see what works for you are the key words here. Remember it is a freebie - licensed CC-share alike. Install in Inkscape using option 3 as described above.



Quick Tutorial: Country Prim Shaded Tag

OK.. that was the boring part... now how to use my cool Country Shading Filters in a very simple design :)

The result of this 5 minute quick tut:


Lets start!

1. Use the Rectangle Tool to draw a rectangle

2. Select Path > Object to Path from the menu (Shift+Ctrl+C)


3. Use the Node Tool vsd_node_tool and press Ctrl+A to select all Nodes

4. Press the Insert Nodes button vsd_insert_node to insert new nodes at selected segments

5. Click anywhere on the canvas to deselect the nodes, then select only the top left and bottom left node: select one node, hold down the Shift key and click on the other.

6. With both nodes selected, hold down the Shift key and press the < key repeatedly to move the nodes closer to each other

7. Select the 2 center nodes.

8. Use the Left Arrow key and move the nodes towards the left side, such that a tag shape is created.

9. Use the Ellipse tool vsd_ellipse_tool. Hold down the Shift+Ctrl keys to draw a small circle.

10. Select both the tag and the circle object (rubberband selection or Ctrl+A in selection mode)


11. Open the Align and Distribute controls vsd_align_distribute_dialog and center both objects on the horizontal axis vsd_align_middle.

12. With both objects still selected, select Path > Difference from the menu (Ctrl+-)


13. Give the tag a suitable colour. I used a kind of cardboard brown (left mouse click on the colour swatches)

14. Give the tag a nice outline. I used a dark brown stroke of 1px (right click on the colour swatches).


15. Apply a Country Shading Filter from the Filters menu. I used Country.Shading.08.


16. Of course it looks better if you add some nice text to the tag. Font used: CurlyCue.

NOTE: you can change colours for both the Fill as well as the Stroke at any time. The filter will update automatically.
NOTE: Using filters can be taxing on your system. Zoom level, complexity of design as well as number of filters apply can significantly impact speed. Use filters in the last step of your workflow, zoom out to inspect the results. Use the option View > Display Mode > No Filters for fast editing. The filters will be applied when you export your file as bitmap (png) as product.

That's all folks. As usual: feedback is as always highly appreciated.



Please do not claim this design as your own. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Australia License. Creative Commons License



0 # Colleen 2011-10-22 13:19
Great tut! Learning Inkscape is a new challenge for me and it's great to find tuts that are so well written! thx!
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0 # jan h 2012-01-07 06:35
Hello many thanks for sharing this tutorial, i am very new to inkscape .
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0 # Sandy 2012-02-07 01:51
More to experiment with. So are there other filter add-ons for some of us less creative ones to add to our installation folder?
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0 # syllie 2012-02-07 21:58
Hi Sandy.. good to see you are having fun!

YES there are more filters available - some have originally been created separately (like mine) and then were later added to the default install of Inkscape.

Two very active filter developers are Ivan Louette and Chrisdesign and they have uploaded most of their stuff to the OpenClipArtLibr ary (OCAL) too. Interesting place to find all kinds of free clipart (and Inkscape Filters).


More info about the technical side of filter development is readily available at the blog of Niko Kiirala

I hope this gives you some good starting points.

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0 # kuna 2012-04-08 17:20
Muchas gracias por compartir!!!est oy empezando a conocer este estupendo programa y sin vuestra ayuda, los que compartis,segur amente no llegaría muy lejos.
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0 # dee 2012-06-19 14:57
Thanks for this filter, been looking for this type of filter, and yay, it's here, and so easy to load and use. thanks so much.
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0 # Steve Allen 2012-08-24 00:23
Thanks very much for these filters. They are useful and simple to install. Would you agree to me doing a short article on them on my company blog? (Your site would be credited, obviously).
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+2 # syllie 2012-08-26 16:58
Hi Steve,

The filters are released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Australia License - so feel free to use them as you like.

Articles and references are always appreciated. I try to promote Inkscape as it is probably the best free vector program out there and sharing knowledge is one of the best means to do that.

Thanks for enquiring. :)

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0 # pinks 2013-02-24 01:36
Hi..thanks a lot for the tutorials..they are very easy and i learned a lot in a day's time only.
but i faced one issue. when i'm adding any filters to a vector and then exporting it as bitmap (.png), the exported .png file is a bit distorted when i view it. the image is blurred and in some cases, the image is a lot distorted. i'm using Inkscape.
thanks in advance.
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0 # JeLima 2013-07-17 11:57
Wonderful! I needed just that!
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