This article is focusing on the clip path command that is found in the Object menu of Inkscape and allows objects to be used to make complex frames for images and other objects.
Inkscape is an open source project that is offered as a free vector line editing tool. It fulfils much of the scope of Adobe’s commercial application, Illustrator, though it does lack the full power of the commercial tool. Obviously Adobe can spend much more money on the development of their applications, however Inkscape is a creditable alternative to Illustrator for those Graphic Designers with limited resources.
A vector image editor produces graphics that can be infinitely resized, within the constrains of the software, without any degradation in the quality of an image. This can be especially important in the production of logos, which could be used at a wide range of physical sizes, such as on a business card or on the side of a large truck.
The example featured here won’t be suitable for being resized infinitely however, as it will use a raster image as the object being framed with the clip command and if increased in size, the image will degrade.
Importing the Base Image
The first step, after opening a blank Inkscape document is to import the image that the clip path is to be applied to. It is also possible to apply a clip path to another vector object.
Click on File > Import and browse to the desired image file on your computer and open it. If it is necessary to resize the image, just click on it to make grab handles visible at each corner and click and drag to make the image smaller. Holding the Ctrl key while dragging a handle will keep the proportions of the image consistent.
Using a Shape Object as a Clip Path
With the image the desired size, the rectangle, circle or star/polygon tool can be selected and an object drawn on top of the image. The object should be moved and/or resized until it frames the correct part of the image below.
By holding the shift key, the image and object can both be selected by clicking on them and then the Designer goes to Object > Clip > Set. The result is that the image is framed within the shape of the object.
Using Text as a Clip Path
Text can also be converted to an object and then used as a clip path and with bold text, this can be an effective technique for some designs.
First some text should be written on top of the image and the font type, size and position adjusted until correctly placed. With the text selected, the Designer then goes Path > Object to Path to convert the text from editable text to a path.
Now, using the shift key to select both the text and the image behind, as before the Designer goes Object > Clip > Set to apply the clip path to the picture.
In both of the above examples, the clip path can be removed by selecting the clipped object and going Object > Clip > Release.
The clip path command is a simple tool to use but it has a wide range of uses that make it a powerful part of the Graphic Designer’s toolbox.