Inkscape Tutorial: Floral Design

vsd_tut_floraldesign_detail_thumbInkscape is awesome for vector drawing and with a price tag of zero, noppes, nada, gratis it is sure software that should not be overlooked. Inkscape is also growing up fast.  At VSD we try to use Inkscape as much as possible and we use it almost exclusively to achieve our professional portfolio. We like to share our knowledge in a series of short tutorials that add up to a design that is directly useful.

In this tutorial we use the powers of Inkscape to create a simple Japanese cherry blossom design that would look good as website background or on a creative business card. I am sure you'll find some use for it. The tutorial is suitable for the beginning Inkscape user.

Tools and techniques demonstrated: Gradient tool, Cloned Tiling, Duplicating vs Stamping, Spiro Curves, Layers.

File size: 8MB

Click on the "START" button in the center of the screen to start this video tutorial. The video can be paused at any time by clicking the pause button on the control bar at the bottom.

The design is made available for download in eps, Inkscape svg and in multiple colour png formats here.



0 # Guest 2010-01-02 19:37
I was checking out your tutorial for cherry blossom flowers but cannot find it. I keep getting led to the tutorial on spiro curves. If there is any other link that might lead me to the cherry blossoms I would appreciate if you could send it to me. Thanks!
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
+3 # syllie 2010-01-02 20:46
Hi Kristine,

I'm sorry you have troubles navigating the site. But you actually made your comment on the tutorial page for the cherry blossoms, and I just checked all the links and they seem to be fine.

You should see a start screen which reads "Floral design tutorial for Inkscape 0.47". It is a video tutorial which will run when you click on the "start" button in the center of the screen.

Perhaps you get confused by the navigation buttons at the bottom of the screen which lead to the previous (or next) tutorial? We dont like those ourselves and plan a bit of restyling on that in the next few days. I hope this helps!

I am planning to release the source file and a high resolution printable 12"x12" at 300dpi of this design in the "vector illustrations" sections in the next few days too, so check back to grab those.

Thanks for leaving a comment!
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
+7 # Guest 2010-01-10 03:09
Thank you very much for the tutorial, it's really easy, even if you open Inkscape for the first time like I did :P

here's my result:
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
+3 # syllie 2010-01-12 14:06
Hi Esther,

That looks awesome. And I am glad you could do this as a starting Inkscape user! Inkscape is very cool and I hope this result encourages you to continu to use it.

Thanks for leaving a comment!
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
+1 # Guest 2010-01-25 12:47
muito bom ... very good
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
0 # Guest 2010-02-11 22:29
hi, i just can't make the clones right. i tried like 10 times, but the best i gut is petals that are arranged in a circle, but are far away from each other... the outer tips of the petals point inwards too... can you help?


ps using the newest version of inkscape, if that helps...
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
0 # syllie 2010-02-12 05:39
Hi vessi,

I dare to say that you forgot to untick the "Used save position of the tile" checkbox at the bottom of the cloned tiles dialog.

If you leave this box ticked, create the clones, and then move the petal, strange things may happen.

Other possible causes:
- not moving the rotation point to the bottom of the petal.
- not setting shift to a -100%.

Note: when I made this tutorial I was unaware of the workings of the "exclude tile" checkbox, which was new in 0.47. It does the same as shift -100% for the originating tile (so tick this box and there is no need to set shift to -100%).

I hope this helps.
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
0 # Guest 2010-02-12 21:21
It's just one of those freak things. I checked everything again... checked and unchecked all the boxes, nothing helped... until I opened a new file and did it from scratch, then... sure... it worked like a charm :)

Great TUT! Thanks a lot! :)
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
0 # Guest 2010-02-13 13:10
I used this tutorial to make a lot of different flowers it was really helpful! Thank you! :D
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
-2 # Guest 2010-02-14 05:20
Quick question

I was using the gradient tool for a flower petal and every time I would move it, it would mess up the gradient stroke or fill. How do I get it to stick?
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
-2 # syllie 2010-02-14 06:21
Hi Lety,

I am not sure what happens but there is a difference between the linear and radial gradient.

The linear gradient has 2 control points, and when you move either one of them the gradient changes.

The radial gradient has 3 control points, where the square determines the centre point. If you select the square one with the gradient tool, you can move the defined gradient as a whole. If you drag one of the circle controls, it will change the gradient (radius and direction).

To set a colour at a control point: select the control point and then click with the mouse button on a colour in the colour palette (or double click and use the gradient editor dialog).

You can even create new control points on a gradient, by moving the gradient tool over the line between the gradient control points, and then double click. It is sometimes a bit tricky as you may need to reselect the gradient tool, but it will add new "stops".

Hope this helps,
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
+2 # F.M 2011-02-13 19:37
Great tutorial, thank you.
I think i have the same problem here. When I duplicate a gradient-filled object and then want to move the duplicate, the gradient doesn't move along!!
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
+2 # syllie 2011-02-13 23:11
Hi F.M,

There is an "Affects" setting in the toolbar that allows to move the gradient with an object. Make sure it is switched on!

I hope that helps ...

Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
-2 # Guest 2010-02-18 13:38
Wow, I just downloaded Inkscape and found your tutorial and it's awesome! Thanks a lot. I couldn't even figure out how to make an exact triangle until the part in your tutorial. Is there a way to Flatten Image like in Photoshop? I want to make all the layers 1 layer so I can save as a jpeg. Thanks.
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
+2 # syllie 2010-02-18 13:55
Hi Jason,

Welcome to the wonderful world of Inkscape, it is a great tool with great options.

Cool thing about layers in a vector progam is that you do not need to flatten them. Inkscape has no export to JPEG tho, so you need to settle for PNG (but I am sure you can use that directly or convert that with any other image editing program, irfanview and xnview are free and do a great job in conversion, but also GIMP would do that job at zero cost).

Now about your export: basically you select whatever object you want to export and open up File > Export to bitmap dialog. As you have already selected your object it will assume that that is what you want in your output, and it will export everything that is visible (no matter what layer it is on). Have a look at a more detailed explanation

Of course you can move all objects to one layer if you want, use the options that are available in the Layer Menu. It basically comes down to selecting things in a layer and move it a layer up or down till it meets your needs.

Also as you have probably learnt by now, all objects in Inkscape have their own order (stacking, z-order) within a layer. You can move them down or up with the Page Down and Page Up keys, or send them all the way down (End-key) or make them topmost object (Home-key). So flattening never happens with vector objects. And that is very cool as they are editable and scalable at all times.

Happy Inkscaping.
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
+2 # Guest 2010-02-24 08:52
Thank you for this great tutorial.
Even though I couldn't get the clone tiling to work I managed to make the cherry blossom.
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
-2 # syllie 2010-02-24 10:15
Hi Susan, there are a few ways to create the flower motif, such as moving the rotation point for the petal and then rotate it manually. But the cloned tiles make it a lot easier - especially if you want to use many elements for example in a daisy or a starburst.

I am not sure what went wrong for you exactly (as you didn't give any specifics), so I cannot give suggestions to fix it.

I use the cloned tiles often, especially when creating patterns or starbursts. The cloned tiles are also used in other tutorials on this site, so perhaps you can give it a go again. Example: the partial starburst in the Abstract Wallpaper - Australia tutorial. It has screenshots for all settings. You can just browse to that section.

I hope this helps.

Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
+1 # Guest 2010-02-25 09:01
Thank you. The star burst worked but I still can't get the flower to work. I've followed your instructions but get the petals grouped in a circle above the original petal. I would add a picture but can't see how to do that.
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
-1 # syllie 2010-02-25 09:50
Hi Susan,

Glad you did get the cloned tiling to work for a radial pattern, tho not for the flowers yet.

We don't allow user upload of pictures on the site. But you could use some service like or to upload your image and then include it here.

It sounds like you have similar problems as vessi had above comment. It worked for her to start a new document.

Just check if you set the shift correctly (or used the "exclude tile" option that is new in version 0.47 - don't use both at the same time), and you unticked the "used saved position of the tile".

You both got me thinking tho, as I now remember a problem with cloned tiles when you change something in the document settings. I quickly tested it and it appears that it goes haywire if:
  • you use a cloned tile in a document
  • change some document setting (for example paper size or drawing area)
  • recreate a cloned tile

Culprit is the addition of a "transform" attribute in the SVG file. This sounds a bit technical but it is not so hard to fix it:

  • Save your work so nothing is lost if it does not work out.
  • Open the XML-editor from the menu Edit > XML-editor (or Shift+Ctrl+X)
  • Find the settings for the layer that the cloned tiles are on (in my quick test that was Layer 1)
  • Find the transform attribute in the right window
  • Select it and delete it by clicking on the button "Delete attribute".

See below screenshot.

I hope this helps. I checked the bug reports for Inkscape and it is a known bug so hopefully fixed in a next version. Till then use this work around if it happens.

Thanks for your update.

Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
0 # Guest 2010-02-25 10:14
Yeah! I've done it. When you mentioned document size, I always work in landscape so I changed the page to portrait and it worked. Hurrah. Thank you for all your help, I'm working through the border tutorial now, they're great.
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
0 # Guest 2010-03-09 21:02
hi love the tutorials, but why oh why do i only get 3 petals come up with the other 2 laying on top of the others!!!!!!!!! !!!!
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
0 # syllie 2010-03-09 22:21
Hi Jaquie,

I do not know what goes wrong as you gave me little information to work with!

Check the settings in the cloned tiles editor carefully. Normally tiles appear on top if these settings are incorrect.

For example: if you use 120 deg rotation then a full rotation (360 deg) is made with only 3 petals. The 4th petal will then be created exactly on top of the 1st, and the 5th on top of the 2nd.

Other things to take into account:
- make sure the rotation centre is moved
- either use "shift -100%" (minus 100) OR use "exclude tile"
- and last but not least - if you changed ANY document setting in the document properties window there may be a transform property that throws things off - read the comment above to solve that.

I hope this helps - if not.. give me please some more details :)

Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
0 # Guest 2010-03-20 23:34
hi thanks so much for your help, will try what you said and let you know what happens, once again thanks for giving your time
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
0 # Guest 2010-04-02 08:05
Great tutorial again. Thank you for your kind and generous efforts.
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
0 # Guest 2010-04-22 09:42
I have had Inkscape for 4 days and did my version of cherry blossems it was so easy. I have never touched a drawing program in my life I thank you for your excellant tutorial it has helped me learn this great program with ease.
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
-1 # Guest 2010-08-12 23:15
Great!!! Very nice and a very good tuto!
Thank you very much!
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
-1 # Nicole 2010-12-20 04:33
Wonderful tutorial! The one problem I had was deleting one of the top nodes of the rectangle to create the triangle. It gave it a quarter circle for the corner. So I had to improvise and draw a rectangle!
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
-1 # NicoleT 2011-01-30 08:13
I have worked through some of your other tutotials with success but I am failing with this one. I have started over 5 times now and always with a new document.

When I try to color the petal I simply get a white petal with a colored outline. Then when it comes to moving the control point down it is detached from the rest of the petal so it doesn't alter the shape of the petal at all.

I am excited to make this work if you could help me!
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
-1 # syllie 2011-01-31 06:41
Hi Nicole,

I am sorry you have troubles completing this tutorial. I made it quite a while ago and used Inkscape 0.47. I am not sure if I simply missed a step or if the inner workings of the program have changed - but:

To make the gradient appear you have to set fill colour other than white for your shape. Otherwise the gradient will go from white to transparent and of course that will not be visible.

Remember that you can modify the gradients with either the NODE tool or the GRADIENT tool .

I explain a bit more about use of the gradient tool in this tutorial: Abstract Wall Paper.
Scroll all the way down to just before the step "Final assembly of the Artwork".

I hope this gives you enough information to make it work. Let me know how you go.

Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
-1 # KarenS 2011-04-01 15:26
Hi, I have just found this site and I love you, thank you.
I have been trying to learn Inkscape for 2 years and I am supposed to teach it. I really needed something like this that starts easy because my brain was scrambled.
I love your tut's and video's and I may never leave. I have only seen the Japanese dolls and the flower video. I could be here for days and I don't care. You made it make sense. Thank you again!
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
-1 # syllie 2011-04-03 12:18
Hi Karen,

I am very glad to hear my tutorials are of some use :)

I tried to write the tutorials assuming no Inkscape knowledge for the reader - which results in some lenghty write-ups but I am glad that didn't scare you away.

The tutorials on this site should provide a firm foundation for any drawing style in Inkscape.

I hope you'll continue to visit the site, and feel free to put forward suggestions for new tutorials.

Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
-1 # Guest 2011-04-04 19:47
Can you tell me how did you made those petals have sharp gradient? I cant make nice looking petal gradient.
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
-1 # syllie 2011-04-09 11:18
Hi Guest :)

A 'sharp gradient' is a bit of a contradiction, as you want the colours to blend in.

The following "quick gradient tutorial" is an adaptation taken from the Abstract Wallpaper tutorial:

  • Set the fill for the your petal object to a nice colour that matches your flower design.
  • With the petal still selected, open the Fill and Stroke dialog (Shift+Ctrl+F).
  • Make sure that the opacity slider in this dialog is set to 100%, as the petal should not have any transparency.
  • Create a radial gradient fill from your design colour to white by pressing this button .
  • The gradient tool can be used to set colours, or to determine the location, radius and angle for gradients.
  • To reverse a gradient: select the gradient tool, click on the object with the gradient fill and then use the hotkey combination Shift+R.
  • The centre of the gradient is indicated with a square marker. The colour for the centre can be set by selecting the square marker and then clicking on a colour (white) in the color palette with the left mouse button.
  • Circle markers indicate the radius of the gradient and set the outside colour. The colour can be set by selecting the marker and then clicking on a colour (blue) in the color palette with the left mouse button.
  • To create multi-colour gradients, you can add new nodes to the gradient, and set the colour in a similar way (in this tutorial I only used 2 colours.

I hope this helps!

Cheers, Syllie
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
-1 # vira 2011-10-12 15:23
Hello again!

Thank you very much for your simple tutorials. They are just what I needed to help simplify the learning process but now I am stuck again. :( Everything was fine until I arrived at the part where I use the radiant to fill the petal. Your petals has those pink rings and mine just looks like pink blush. Don't know what I am doing wrong. I tried it several times but no luck. please help!

Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
-1 # syllie 2011-10-25 21:41
Hi Vira,
I am sorry for my very slow response.. I have been away for a while and that left you hanging.. :(

No worries about the pink blush! that is how it should be. In my video I make a comment that "your result should look much nicer". I exported the files in a very low quality and then the gradient is translated to these circles .. that is not what the end result should look like. If you open up the example files that are attached to this tutorial you could have seen that.

Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
-1 # vira 2011-10-13 02:44

Just wanted to ask a quick question, is there a way to make png files with a transparent background? I have been looking for an answer but I can't seem to fine a straight one! I only ask because you seem to know how to work well with Inkscape. I would appreciate your reply!

Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
-1 # syllie 2011-10-25 21:46
Hi Vira,

There are 2 ways to create PNG's from Inkscape. I believe you used the method "Save As CAIRO PNG". This one exports the drawing, including the background.

However.. if you use the option File > Export Bitmap, you'll be able to save the file as PNG (that is the only supported format) and it will ONLY save the objects (ignoring the background).
That should deliver the desired result.

Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
-1 # shashank sharma 2012-01-19 21:35
thanks a bunch
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
-1 # Vira 2012-01-27 16:05
Hello again,

thank you for the response, it was very helpful! I have learned much from your tutorials! Thank you thank you! I did have a question that I hope you can answer. I had created a curved squiggly line and duplicated it 3 more times and made a frame with it, similar to one on this page, kinda looks the first one on the top row. Well, as i went to to fill it in, it did not come out too well :sad: some color showed on the outside of the black outline and some on the inside. I was hoping to send a picture to better explain myself. anyway, just thought i ask because i have no idea if its possible to fill a shape like this.
thank you.
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
0 # syllie 2012-01-28 12:07
Hi Vira,

When working with vectors you have to keep in mind that a vector object needs to be "closed" for a fill to be applied as expected. See my infographic below for ways to approach this.

There is one other alternative.. that is to change your stroke (the squiggly line) to an path via the menu Path > Stroke to Path. No need to say that your line needs to have "some weight" to make this work properly.
I hope this helps.
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
-1 # Vira 2012-01-28 16:24
Hello again Syllie!

this helped very much. :D I was making a frame with some squiggly lines and the frame when filled was looking something like the second image with the funny effects you have posted. I used what i learned in the hearts tutorial i had asked about as well and I was able to accomplish what i wanted. thank you again for your awesome help!!

many thanks,

ps. i hope you continue to offer your great tuts!
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
-1 # Melanie 2012-03-15 17:38
:-) Thank you so much for this excellent tutorial. I've just got Inkscape and I'm so happy to have found this tutorial. Many thanks for your effort and for sharing :)
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
-1 # Blanco111 2012-06-22 15:42
I learned a lot from doing this tutorial. Thanks for making it available. It was challenging (in a good way). :-)
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
-1 # Brandy 2012-07-14 17:45
I loved this tutorial thank you so much for putting it online. It really helped sharpen my inkscape skills, I have not used it in forever.
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
-1 # Nadine 2012-08-13 02:25
:lol: Thank you, I just couldn't get the hang of the Tiled Clones or Spirals. The one book on Inkscape doesn't even come close to explaining the actions as clearly as you do. Do you have an ebook available?
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
-1 # Mel 2012-12-29 17:45
Thank you for this tutorial. I am new to Inkscape and graphic design and had trouble understanding the clone tool, particularly how you knew to put the shift to -100% or how to know how to set what to what for all the clone tab options. Perhaps info about those features is in the Inkscape help manual (which I have not looked at yet) but if not, then if you can point me to where I can learn more about that I'd appreciate it! I wanted to also mention that I followed your directions to a tee but when I created the final cloned image there is a large hole in the middle of both of the different flower designs. I put the center of the rotate + sign exactly where you put it too. I then moved it a lot lower than you had it and that worked, but I really had to play around with that darn plus sign and keep re-creating it to get it just right. In any case, looking forward to more of your tuts :)
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
-1 # martin 2013-01-04 07:30
Just loaded inkscape and used this tutorial as my first lesson - very nice tutorial, enough detail to get me started yet give me scope to play and make my own mistakes (which is the best way to learn). Many thanks.
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
-1 # bel 2013-03-26 08:31
:D ThAank you! i'm a first time Inkscape! Nice tutorial, easy to follow!
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
0 # PureGuava 2013-08-13 21:59
Thank you so much for this tutorial! Here's my finished picture (I'm an Inkscape beginner)
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
0 # GoGayleGo 2014-03-05 03:00
Hello, and thanks for your tutorials! I'm a beginner, have done the Fancy Borders and Floral Motif tutes so far. I'm stuck on this one at the point of adding the "Branches" layer. I've added the layer (beneath the original layer), have hidden original layer, but am unable to draw branches (or any other shapes for that matter) on the new "Branches" layer. The layer is selected and visible, and I've chosen black as the fill color. What am I doing wrong?
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
0 # GoGayleGo 2014-03-05 21:56
I was able to open a different document with several layers and was able to create objects on all of them.

I went back to my Floral Designs file, deleted the "Branches" layer, made a new one, and it worked just fine (not sure why though!).

I continue to have odd behavior with layers. I will select, for example, the branches layer. Then try to select the branches by drawing a rectangle around them. But the layer choice jumps to background, and then the background rectangle moves instead. Any thoughts?
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote


We are very proud that the Spiro Swirls Tutorial for Inkscape has gained such popularity.

Today, 28 January 2012,  over 140,000 viewers have visited this page and our statistics show that it is still the most popular tutorial on this site. This tutorial is suitable for Inkscape version 0.47 and 0.48.

Thank you all for viewing and providing feedback. We do our best to make this site the best beginner resource site for Inkscape.