Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Inkscape, replacement for Adobe Illustrator or Corel Draw? - Tech Tuesday

Hey all! I hope you all are doing just great! :)

Just finished with the maintenance drive of my blog. I do it once a month or two to see if there any spelling mistakes, broken links, spam comments, etc on my blog. Just found a few mistakes and a few broken links too. Phew! It is a tedious job to do such maintenance drives. But well, I guess for now my blog is in a superb condition! haha! :D Report any errors if you find, I'll be happy to correct them :) And yes! In this maintenance drive, I also added a note about the pics on this blog since I don't own most of them. :)

Anyways, it's Tech-Tuesday today, and that calls for some post related to tech or computers, software, etc. So I got in my mind today about the software - Inkscape, a free, open-source, 3D-vector-drawing software. Let's talk about it today! :)

Let us first talk about what are vector graphics. I know it could be a separate post altogether, but well, I'll keep it short, just a basic definition and a little bit of explanation, that's it. Maybe we could talk about it details sometime, but today? NO NO NO!! Anyways, let's check out the Wikipedia definition of Vector Graphics - "Vector graphics is the use of geometrical primitives such as points, lines, curves, and shapes or polygon(s), which are all based on mathematical expressions, to represent images in computer graphics. "Vector", in this context, implies more than a straight line." I guess most of you know what a vector is? No? Well, Vector is any quantity being estimated together with it's direction. For example, if I say that Tropic of Cancer is at 23.5 degrees North of Equator, then I am telling you the position of the imaginary line of Northern Tropical Regions of Earth(direction = North) with it's location(23.5 degrees, the magnitude). So vector drawing helps us not only to understand 2D but 3D concepts of drawing, since we know we have to display most of the things in a 2D plane, a little added perspective makes it seemingly 3D. :)

Okay! now onto Inkscape, our actual area of discussion :D If we see what the official website of Inkscape got to say about it, "An Open Source vector graphics editor, with capabilities similar to Illustrator, CorelDraw, or Xara X, using the W3C standard Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) file format. Inkscape supports many advanced SVG features (markers, clones, alpha blending, etc.) and great care is taken in designing a streamlined interface. It is very easy to edit nodes, perform complex path operations, trace bitmaps and much more. We also aim to maintain a thriving user and developer community by using open, community-oriented development. Supported SVG features include shapes, paths, text, markers, clones, alpha blending, transforms, gradients, patterns, and grouping. Inkscape also supports Creative Commons meta-data, node editing, layers, complex path operations, bitmap tracing, text-on-path, flowed text, and direct XML editing. It imports formats such as JPEG, PNG, TIFF, and others and exports PNG as well as multiple vector-based formats. Inkscape's main goal is to create a powerful and convenient drawing tool fully compliant with XML, SVG, and CSS standards. We also aim to maintain a thriving user and developer community by using open, community-oriented development process, and by making sure Inkcape is easy to learn, to use, and to extend." (P.S. - Kindly check for any redundancy)

Let me tell you people one important thing, the best software in the 3D Vector Drawing Market is the Adobe Illustrator, and Adobe Indesign being the master! It is followed by another popular(which I personally HATE all because of it's over-extra-vague rate in India! >_<) Corel Draw. But Inkscape is totally free and thus for beginners and small-time professionals, Inkscape is certainly the best software, but well IT IS NOT THE "COMPLETE" REPLACEMENT(though it can be a nice one sometime and in some cases) FOR ADOBE ILLUSTRATOR(LEAVE ALONE ADOBE INDESIGN) OR COREL DRAW, the only reason being, the amount of features and awesomeness of those features offered by them is certainly a bit higher(not too high, Inkscape is just too good for it's own stand too!) as compared to that in Inkscape. But as I said, for small time professionals and enthusiasts Inkscape is certainly the best! :) I have myself used all the three (rather 4) software, so I'm, saying all this from my own personal experience. The places where Inkscape stands out a winner are:

  • Ease of use

  • Such a large community of enthusiasts are associated with Inkscape that the bugs are readily addressed, and any problem the user encounters are helped and sorted out on a global level by just so many people! Moreover because of this reason, there are tonnes of free video tutorials available throughout the internet which help one learn this software with great ease, and thus learn 3D-vector drawing as whole, further paving the way to learn these basics which can help in switching to commercial versions easily later-on.

Also I found a nice review-cum-comparison of the major vector-drawing software, let me share it with you all:

"Adobe Illustrator is, and for the better part of a decade has been the leading vector app in the industry. You cannot go wrong with AI.

Corel Draw is a great piece of software, truly advanced. Corel almost went bankrupt though, thanks to Microsoft (Corel had released a version of Linux and had ported their software to Linux providing a direct competitor to Microsoft's windows platform). Corel's doing fine now, and they have a rock-solid software suite that does everything you need it to (but windows only). However, even Corel uses Adobe's software to do their own promotions. That should say something.

As for Xara, apart from it being open-sourced and a fast renderer, I haven't done too much with it. It's not, nor has it ever been a major player in the industry, although, the codebase is supposed to be merged with inkscape in the future - keep your eyes open!

Inkscape is the hidden gem here. I know entire groups of professional designers who use Inkscape (even though they've purchased Illustrator) because even for all the money you pay for illustrator, Inkscape has better features. Inkscape has had RGBa colours for a long time, has advanced path effects and opens and saves SVG FAR better than AI. I personally use both AI and Inkscape daily, and often simultaneously, and it's funny how they fill in each others gaps.

AI is better with text, Inkscape is far superiour at general illustration (colouring, making icons, comics, illustrations). If I couldn't buy Illustrator, I could do just fine using Inkscape alone as a professionally trained designer.

This whole "it can't be as good, or else they'd be selling it" is flawed and false. Yes, good software requires money, but there are more ways to fund a software project than via sales. Google sponsors coders, people volunteer, and others make donations to the project, which allows for volunteer and paid work to be done, all the time. You have 24/7 free support, and if you go onto #inkscape on freenode, you can chat directly with the programmers and ask them your questions - something you could never do with an adobe product.

So, enough with the free software bashing already, it shouldn't hurt your ego that a free program is better than your paid app you bought - there's nothing stopping you from having both if it's free! I bought Illustrator because I wanted it, even though I had Inkscape, and it by no means has replaced Inkscape for me, but the advantages it does have for me are worth the amount I paid, so I'm happy, Adobe's happy, and Inkscape is happy."

The above review is seriously the one I totally agree with. I know I said paid software have more and better features contrary to what the above review says, but maybe I used only a part of software and the reviewer being a graphics professional used most of it. In any case, Inkscape is a sound replacement for Corel Draw, but if we talk about Illustrator somewhere Illustrator wins, while at some places Inkscape emerges victorious.

So the moral of the story is - COREL IS WORSE(YAYY!! HAHAH! :D ) INKSCAPE IS CERTAINLY SUPERB AND ADOBE ILLUSTRATOR IS UNMATCHED! I'm no one sponsoring Adobe or Inkscape neither I'm given money to slam Corel. It's my personal experience through which I'm speaking, so rest all depends on you all! :)

Let me share with you guys and girls some nice graphics screenshots of the software I found through Google:


Official Website

Download Here

Frequently Asked Questions about Inkscape

Official Tutorials

At last I would just like to say, thanks all for your time you spent reading this. Thanks a lot for visiting my blog. I'll try to post here regularly so that all my readers love my blog as always. All your comments and suggestions are always welcomed. Good day! and Keep smiling! ^_^


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