Boolean Operations

The Boolean Operations work on paths, or they try to convert the selected objects to paths before they compute the result. All these operations need at least 2 convertible objects or paths, which will be combined following specific rules.

Union icon Union

Keeps the common outline of all selected paths.

Difference icon Difference

Subtracts one path from another one.

Intersection icon Intersection

Only keeps those parts that are covered by all selected paths.

Exclusion icon Exclusion

Keeps those parts which are covered by an odd number of paths (if you have two objects, this is where the objects do not overlap).

Division icon Division

The path below is cut into pieces by the path above.

Cut path icon Cut Path

Creates as many paths as there are path intersections between the two paths.

Combine icon Combine

Keeps all parts, and combines them into a single object.

Break apart icon Break Apart

If a path consists of a number of independent parts (subpaths), this will create that number of separate objects.

To use these operations, select the two (or more) objects, and then select the option of your choice in the Path menu. The result will immediately appear on the canvas - if it doesn’t, read the error message that will appear in the status bar, at the bottom of the Inkscape window, to find out about the reason for the failure.


The stacking order of the object matters, so check that the bottom object is the one you want to apply the operation to. To know how each operation will apply, look at the icons: the circle is always on top of the square.

Unioning a triangle and a square results in a house

Unioning a triangle and a square gives a house.

The rectangle will become the door opening after Difference

Difference between a rectangle and a house creates an opening for the door.

Two overlapping ellipses and the results of Intersection and Exclusion

Two overlapping ellipses. On the left: Intersection between the two ellipses. On the right: Exclusion between the two ellipses.

Ellipse with a path on top. Ellipse divided by the path.

Someone has drawn a path with the pencil tool on the orange ellipse on the left. On the right: Division.

The two parts of the ellipse have been combined into a single path (with subpaths). Each subpath has become a single path after Break Apart.

On the left: Move apart and combine (to form a single path composed of two subpaths). On the right: Break Apart separates all subpaths into independent objects.