The Book of Inkscape

NoStarchPress sent us in the newly released “Book of Inkscape“, written by Dmitry Kirsanov, who is also one of the core developers of Inkscape.

The book weighs at over 400 pages, and it has a lot of illustrations to help the reader visualize the concepts. The first part of the book uses thematic chapters, while the second part includes tutorials, command line switches, keyboard shortcut list, and even an SVG format primer.

On that first part of the book, Kirsanov is educating us from the very beginning of the concept: what are vectors, and what are its advantages and disadvantages. He later delves into who are Inkscape’s competitors, but soon goes back to the real meat, ranging his teaching from simple concepts like shapes and selections, to more complex ones, like paths and clones. Every fundamental concept of vector-based creation is discussed in the book.

I was at first concerned that a core developer wrote this book rather than an actual artist/writer, but quickly my fears faded away. Kirsanov is also a web designer, and this is not his first book. He is able to hand-out the knowledge with ease, without confusing the reader. He also has an uncanny ability to prioritize concepts and tools, and so each chapter and each section appears at the right moment in the book, while the reader is ready for it.

In fact, one interesting aspect of the book is that it doesn’t only work as an Inkscape book, but it also works pretty well as a generic “get familiar with vector creation art” kind of book. The other aspect is that the book feels both as a tutorial and a manual, rolled into one. All the menu/shortcuts/features/etc information is present as you would expect from a manual, but there are also chapters that show you step by step how to create traced art, CAD-like objects, animation, and even simple 3D scenes.

In conclusion, the Book of Inkscape is the definitive guide both if you are new to vectors, and if you’re new to Inkscape. If only a more in-depth tracing/photorealistic portrait tutorial was included too. I still have some trouble laying out the colors and shadows on a traced face in a way that feels well-painted.

Rating: 9/10


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