Thursday, January 12, 2012

Concentric Circles

How I tamed the Tiled Clones tool in Inkscape

The goal of this tutorial is to show you how to create a set of concentric circles with uniform line width using the Create Tiled Clones tool in Inkscape.

First, create your original object in Inkscape. In this tutorial, I'm using a plain circle.

Make sure your object is selected and open the Create Tiled Clones dialog window (Edit | Clone | Create Tiled Clones...)

For this tutorial, I am creating 9 concentric circles. We don't want any of the preset clone styles, so just choose P1: simple translation from the dropdown. Set your rows,columns to be 1,9. Make sure the Use saved size and position of the tile checkbox is off (unchecked). The settings on the Symmetry tab should look something like this:

On the Shift tab, make sure all Shift X and Shift Y offsets are zeroed. Keep the Exponents at 1, and check the per column Exclude tile checkbox:

I wanted neat, even, concentric circles, so I set my per column Scale X and Scale Y values to 100% each. Again use an Exponent of 1:

Leave everything zeroed on the Rotation, Blur & opacity, Color and Trace tabs. Or not, if you want to mess with those settings. But in this tutorial, we'll leave them zeroed.

Click the Create button and you should get concentric clones:

Notice how the successive circles at this stage are evenly spaced apart (good), but have increasing line widths (bad). I haven't found a way to tell Inkscape not to do this for me, even when I try to turn off the Scale Stroke Widths Proportionately affect. :-/ If you know how to do this, I'd love to learn.

So, the rest of this tutorial will focus on making all stroke widths equal.

Select all of the circles:

Unlink them (Edit | Clone | Unlink Clone) or Alt+Shift+D:

Group them (Object | Group) or Ctrl+G:

Open the Fill and Stroke dialog (Object | Fill and Stroke...) or Ctrl+Shift+F:

Set whatever Stroke Style you want. I'm using a plain solid line with width 1px here:

And the final result:

There are many more weird and wonderful things you can do with the clone tool, and I'm only starting to fathom its depths. Until this morning, this tool scared me because nearly every time I tried to use it I would end up with many copies of something I didn't want. Finally with some experimentation this morning, I have tamed the beast! Well... found out where he lives and what he likes to drink, at least. If I have made a flub, omitted something crucial or just plain messed up, let me know.