Inkscape Tutorial: Sequins

vsd_tut_sequin_200x150This tutorial is very easy and only focusses on creating a simple decorative sequin that can be used in many designs, including the paisley motif.

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


Before we start

Inkscape remembers by default the last settings of a tool. Therefore objects you draw may differ from the screenshots in this tutorial. Help on how to correct the most common settings can be found on this page: Inkscape Beginner Tips (opens in a new window).


Size of the Design

As said many times before, size does not really matter as we work with vectors. As I want to use it as a pattern later tho, I make it relatively small - about 60px in diameter. Remember that you can scale to purpose afterwards without loss of quality.


Sequins are little metal or plastic shapes which sparkle when they catch light. They are sewn to fabric altho they have other applications too. It is very time consuming to sew sequins manually to costumes, and manufacturers provide them strung as trim. A popular shape is the so-called cup sequin, and that will be what I draw here.

Basic Shape

  • Use the Ellipse Tool vsd_ellipse_tool to draw a circle.
  • Set a colour for the fill. I used red, but any colour will do: click with the left mouse button on a colour in the colour palette.
  • Set the stroke colour to black: hold down the Shift-key and click with the left mouse button on the black swatch in the colour palette.
  • Use a modest stroke width: right click on the number next to the stroke fill indication in the left bottom corner. I used a stroke width of 1px.

Your drawing should look like this:


  • Use the Star and Polygon Tool vsd_star_tool.
  • Set the mode to Regular Polygon with 6 corners:


  • Draw a small hexagon in the circle area. Hold down the Shift-key to draw from the centre. Don't worry about alignment, we'll solve that in a moment.

The hexagon must be smaller than the circle. Your drawing should look like this:

  • Use the Select Tool vsd_select_tool.
  • Select both the hexagon and the circle: drag a a selection window around them (rubberband selection) or select one object, hold down the Shift-key and add the other to the selection.
  • Open the Align and Distribute Dialog vsd_align_distribute_dialog (Shift+Ctrl+A).
  • Align the objects to center vsd_align_center and middle vsd_align_middle.
  • Select the only hexagon and duplicate it (Ctrl+D). The dupliate is created exactly on top of the original.
  • Move one of the hexagons temporarily out of the way.
Note: this step is not really necessary, as we move it back into place later, but it shows better what is going on.


  • Select both the aligned hexagon and circle: drag a a selection window around them (rubberband selection) or select one object, hold down the Shift-key and add the other to the selection.


  • Select Path > Difference from the menu (Ctrl+-). This will cut the hexagon shape out of the circle. Difference creates a new path from the bottom object minus top object.


Next the shape will be divided into 6 sections:

  • Select the pen tool.
  • Make sure the default settings are used: the mode should be set to Regular Bezier Path and Shape set to None. The smoothing setting is not relevant.


  • Click left outside of the circle.
  • Hold down the Ctrl-key and move the cursor right of the circle. The line should be straight and horizontally. Click again.

Your drawing should look like this:

  • Use the select tool vsd_select_tool. The line should still be selected.
  • Duplicate the line using Ctrl+D. The duplicate is created exactly on top of the original.
  • Open the Transform dialog by selecting Object > Transform (Shift+Ctrl+M) from the menu.
  • Select the Rotate tab and set the angle to 120 deg.


  • Press the Apply button but keep the dialog open.

Your drawing should look like this:

  • Duplicate the line again using Ctrl+D.
  • Press the Apply button in the Transform dialog again.

Your drawing should look like this:


  • Close the Transform Dialog.
  • Select the 3 cutting lines: select one line, hold down shift and click on the others to add them to the selection.
  • Check the notification area at the bottom of the screen, it should read: "3 Objects of Type Path". Make sure the circle is not part of the selection.
  • Use from the menu: Path > Combine. This makes a single path from the selection and allows use of path operations.


  • Select both the combined path and the sequin shape.


  • Open the Align and Distribute Dialog vsd_align_distribute_dialog (Shift+Ctrl+A).
  • Align the objects to center vsd_align_center and middle vsd_align_middle.
  • Select Path > Division (Ctrl+/) from the menu. This cuts the bottom shape into pieces, using the path object that is at top as slicer.


  • Make sure the 6 shapes are selected and group them (Ctrl+G).


  • Add the hexagon we duplicated earlier to the selection.


  • Use the Align and Distribute Dialog vsd_align_distribute_dialog (Shift+Ctrl+A) to align the objects to center vsd_align_center and middle vsd_align_middle.

Your drawing should now look like this:


  • Use the Ellipse Tool vsd_ellipse_tool to draw a very small circle on top of the hexagon.


  • With this circle still selected, hold down the Shift-key and add the hexagon to the selection (selection order matters!).
  • In the Align and Distribute Dialog vsd_align_distribute_dialog (Shift+Ctrl+A) make sure "Last Selected" is selected in the "Relative to" drop down list.
  • Align both objects to center vsd_align_center and middle vsd_align_middle.

Your drawing should look like this:

  • With the circle and the hexagon still selected, choose Path > Difference (Ctrl+-) from the menu.

This will cut out the circle from the hexagon:


Colour the Sequin

  • Select and ungroup the 6 objects that form the outer rim of the sequin (Shift+Ctrl+G).
  • Select 3 rim objects, I used the top one and the one next to it in counter-clockwise direction, as well as its direct opposite:


  • Open the Fill and Stroke Dialog vsd_fill_stroke_dialog (Shift+Ctrl+F).


  • On the Fill tab, select HSL as flat colour. Move the L-slider to a lower value. This makes the colour darker but keeps the same tone. I reduced the value about 20%.
  • Select the 2 adjacent rim objects in left lower corner.


  • Again move the L-slider to a lower value, but less extreme so only a slightly darker colour is selected. I reduced the value about 10%.
  • Select the remaining rim object and move the L-slider to a much higher value, so a light colour is selected. I increased the value about 50%.


  • Select all items and set the stroke to a matching colour, I used the same colour as used for the fill of the centre hexagon.


  • Group all items (Ctrl+G) and there you have a nice cup sequin.


Alternative colour scheme:


Use of Sequins

Of course you can use a single sequin to brighten up designs. However, normally sequins are threaded to fabrics in a nice pattern (appliques).

As shown in the Fancy Border tutorial, Inkscape has some cool extensions that allow a shape to be repeated along a path. For sequins the best effect is achieved by using the Scatter extension.

  • Create a path to decorate with the sequins. I have drawn a simple straight line with the pen tool.

Note: The path can be drawn with the Pen Tool, the Bezier Tool or exist of an Inkscape primitive such as the ellipse, rectangle, star or spiral which is then converted to a path through the menu Path > Object to path.

  • Select the sequin and press the HOME key. This makes it the topmost object on the layer. The object that is used as pattern must be the top most object in a selection.

    Select both the sequin and the path.


  • Choose Extensions > Generate from Path > Scatter.
  • Tick the live preview box.  The sequin will be scattered along the path.
  • Adjust the Normal Offset such that the sequins overlap for about 50%. My sequin is about 60px in diameter, a setting of -30px should be about ok.




  1. The path direction determines how the sequins are stacked. If you want them to overlap in the oposite direction: either flip the path or use Path > Reverse from the menu:
  2. vsd_tut_sequin_scatter_reverse
  3. I usually keep the path in the background as it gives the suggestion that the sequins are actually threaded.
  4. In the scatter dialog I usually select "Original pattern will be copied", however it may be beneficial to use the "cloned" setting. This allows for easy updates of colours in the sequin (or addition of beads, threads, shadows) and see the effect directly in its application.
  5. The option "Follow path direction" in the scatter dialog is only relevant for multi directional paths, but I'll discuss that later.


Bring some dimension in the work

Although the design looks nice, it is a bit bland as there is no depth. This can easily be corrected by applying a drop shadow to the sequin before using the scatter extension, and it works relatively well:

  • Select the sequin.
  • Open the filter dialog Filters > Shadows and Glows > Drop Shadow.
  • Use a small offset - about 2px in each direction is fine and press apply.


  • Draw a simple horizontal path with the pen tool, or re-use the one we created before. Note: if you draw a new line, select the sequin and hit the Home-key to make it the topmost object again.
  • Select the path and sequin and apply Extensions > Generate from Path > Scatter again.


Use of Multi-directional Paths and Drop-Shadows

Make sure that the option "Follow Path Orientation" is unticked in the Scatter dialog. This ensures that the sequin is not rotated during the generation, and that ensures that the drop shadow for each sequin will occur at the same side. Note: if you draw a new line, select the sequin and hit the Home-key to make it the topmost object again before running the scatter extension.

Multi-directional path:

"Follow Path Orientation" ticked:


The shadows are at the bottom for the top horizontal leg of the path, at the left side for the vertical part, and at the top for the lower horizontal leg - totally out of sync with our laws of physics.

"Follow Path Orientation" unticked:

One step further: more realism

If you ever looked closely to sequin designs, you'll know that there are always variations in colour due to the way sequins catch light. So having all the sequins with the same orientation and the same colour variations makes the design not that realistic.

If we allow the sequin to follow path orientation during the generation we have more variation there but the drop shadows will be all over the place, and at wrong sides.

So what's the way out? It is actually very simple:

  • Create a drop shadow without offset:

The shadow will be centered with the sequin:


  • Use the Scatter extension to generate this sequin along a path:


The minute drop shadow creates sufficient depth to make the sequins look stacked.

Now lets jiggle them a bit. The scatter extension results in a group of sequins.

  • Enter the group by double clicking on any element or click with the right mouse button and select "Enter group #g.... " from the submenu.
  • The layer indication in the status bar will now start with "#g" to indicate that you are working IN a group.
  • Pick a few sequins in the group and rotate them. A quick way is to use the 90 deg cw vsd_rotate_90_cw and ccw vsd_rotate_90_ccw rotate buttons and/or flip the sequins horizontally vsd_flip_horizontally or vertically vsd_flip_vertically.
  • Return to working on Layer1 by selecting Layer1 from the layer indication in the status bar.
  • Now a drop shadow can be applied to the group of generated sequins as a whole: Filters > Shadows and Glows > Drop Shadow.



Closing remarks

  1. If the design is intended to be used as an element in a larger design, applying drop shadows to the complete group should be omitted and only be added upon completion of the final design.
  2. Filters in Inkscape slow down rendering. Using filters on pattern objects which are duplicated many times only increase these problems. If you decide to use filters: apply them as a last step, and switch to View > Display Mode > No Filters as soon as you are happy with the results. The filters will only hidden from display on screen, but are still part of the exported / printed output.
  3. Instead of using filters a simple vector circle in a flat gray colour could be used to simulate a drop shadow. This keeps rendering fast, but also allows the drawing to be exported to EPS in a way that is acceptable for microstock sites. Note: use of filters (including basic blur) results in rasterisation upon export to EPS, which is in general not accepted by microstock sites.


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



+2 # Guest 2010-03-25 08:37
Another great tutorial, thank you very much.
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
+1 # syllie 2010-03-25 11:46
Hi Susan,

I am glad you liked it. I sometimes hesitate a bit on publishing tutorials like this as I am not really sure what the target user would be. Some of the techniques above are explained in other tutorials, but I figured explaining about basic shading and colour manipulations would add something new.

Thanks for your comment.
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
+2 # Guest 2010-03-28 01:01
Hey, Syllie. Loved this one too. In regards to your target user, I would say that while this specific application may or may not be something that immediately fits my needs, all of the skills and techniques you're suggesting certainly do. Showing how to manipulate the application is the thing, the content of your final product is just a vehicle to get there, and one you obviously have fun with. You do it beautifully.
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
+2 # syllie 2010-04-02 22:09
Thanks again John! These are exactly the deliberations that make me decide to actually publish things. :D

Cheers, Syllie
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
+1 # Guest 2010-04-01 11:22
Hi ,I am new to all this i think your tutorial is absolutly wonderful,Iv learnt a lot from it ,look forward to learning more.Thankyou so much.
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
+2 # syllie 2010-04-02 22:11
Hi Josie,

Welcome to the wonderful world of Inkscape! It is the best free vector tool around, and I think it can compete with the commercial ones (coming from CorelDraw and now stumbling with Illustrator from time to time).

Just start with the beginner level tutorials and you'll be mastering Inkscape in no-time.

Cheers, Syllie
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
+1 # Guest 2010-04-02 13:29
Absolutely love! Thanks for another great tutorial :D
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
0 # syllie 2010-04-02 22:12
Hi MissDDT, welcome back!

I see you happily twittering around, and I like the redesign of your blog. Thanks for your feedback to this tutorial - it seems that there is a higher demand for these kind of tuts than I anticipated :D

Cheers, Syllie
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
+1 # Guest 2010-04-10 07:04
THANK YOU! THANK YOU! I just discovered Inkscape about a week or two ago. Going through this tutorial has shown me some great features of the product. Your tutorials are very well written. Did I mention...THANK YOU!
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
0 # syllie 2010-04-10 21:21
Hi Mike,

I am glad this tutorial was of help. Inkscape is an awesome open source vector editor with a lot of extra features. Version 0.48 will be released soon and that has a new spray can option which brings again new options to this program.

Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
0 # Guest 2010-04-16 14:58
hai, I want to say a big thank you for this wonderful site. i am amazed.
I have a question. If i draw an object and then fill with color and then put gradient.
If i have to move the object then Only the object moves and the gradient stays where it is giving a change in objects gradient behaviour.
Thats if i change the object with gradient to a different location, it will not have the gradient what i intendentet but a new one. How to solve this problem.
in drawing a cherry blossom you did it very nicely. you changed the size, location. but still the gradient stayed on how?
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
0 # syllie 2010-04-16 19:42
Hi Mohamed,

I am glad you are enjoying the tutorials on this site.

It is actually quite easy to make the gradient move with your design. In "select mode" the Control Bar offers 4 options in the section "Affects". One of them controls if the gradient is moved when you move a design, the icon looks like this: . Just make sure this option is toggled on.

I hope this helps.

Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
+1 # Guest 2010-06-23 23:57
This tutorial is the only thing I've tried to make in inkscape so far, but I think I've learnt a lot from it! Thank you :-)

I've got a question about inkscape in general: when I open a new file, there always is a box with a grey lining (I don't know whether that's the right word for it). What is it? I mean, does it have a function or should I do something whith it? It's not there in the pictures of your tutorial..

Thanks again, Tessa.
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
-1 # syllie 2010-06-24 21:18
Hi Theresa,

The box with the grey lining is actually "the document". It shows you where the paper starts and end when you create a design. Default Inkscape starts with an A4 size paper, but you can change this in the preferences. You can also set the preferences to not show the document border.

You won't see the document border in many of my tutorials, as most of them just create a design (and I do not really care what the size of the end product will be). Most of my designs are for web only and I set the definite size on expotring of the bitmap. In other words, I simply ignore the document in the background.

But the document plays a very important role when you start designing for real life products, for example a postcard of 10x10cm (4"x4") or a party banner of 3 m x 1.5 m. In those cases you would set up the document to fit the required output size and fit your design in it accordingly.

I hope this answers your question.

Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
-1 # Guest 2010-07-03 04:08
I am a complete beginer, and really struggle with tutorials. I have only completed to the sequin with highlight/lowlights (that was enough for a single first lesson) and although I struggled a few times, I was very impressed that I could follow along and produce a decent sequin.

Great job and thanks. I'll be back to remake my sequin (I deleted the first one so I could do the steps over to help learn where things are) and carry onto the next stages of your excellent tutorial. Producing clear tutorials is an art, doing it for noobs is genius!
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
0 # syllie 2010-07-20 12:12
Hi absolutebeginer ,

I am glad that you could follow the tutorial. I think that Inkscape is quite easy to learn when someone points out the do's and don'ts. I hope you tried the other absolute beginner tutorials too: the cartoon fish and kokeshi doll are targetted at new Inkscape users.

Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
0 # Guest 2010-08-20 06:31
Thank you!!!!!!!!!!
As I learn graphics/Vectors, I've been searching for a site with in depth explainations that I don't have to reference 3 other sites to understand the terminology. thank you for making Real Workable Tuts (the pictures, and laymans terms you use are the keys!)
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
0 # hether 2011-12-10 00:38
crap hated it
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
0 # syllie 2011-12-12 20:37
Now now.. that's not nice...
I dont mind negative feedback.. but I do mind not knowing why you hated it?

- The product that you create may not be to your liking, but still.. you know that before you start right?
- If the tutorial didn't result in what you expected, then either you didn't follow instructions, or my instructions are flawed. In that latter case - I would like to know what you struggled with.
- If your total comment adds up to 'crap hated it' .. well.. I guess you have to live with that :)

I'd love to see a bit more of the why please?

Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
0 # I Draw Fashion 2011-12-28 00:46
Hey,Syllie! The tutorial and the explanations are really nice and easy to get. I recently did a sequins tutorial myself, but it's for traditional art. You make me want to learn more for digital drawing. Looks beautiful!
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
0 # Blanco111 2012-06-14 13:23
This was a very educational tutorial for me as I am a beginner. I'm working my way down the list of all your Inkscape tutorials. Thanks for making them available.
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
0 # martin 2013-01-06 22:13
Another good tutorial thanks - just made a nice sequin pattern in my daughter's name. Thanks also for answering the document question raised earlier as that had puzzled me as well.
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.