The Shape Tools

Geometric shapes, despite their simple look, are useful for many drawing techniques (and not only vector drawing). With path operations (Union, Difference, etc…), you can quickly get awesome results from some elementary shapes. You can even further improve that with path tools. Both path operations and path tools are detailed in later sections.

The icons of the Rectangle, Star, Ellipse and Spiral tools

Let’s draw some geometric shapes. All the shape tools follow similar rules to let you create and edit your shapes. But each tool has specific options: for example, a circle can become a pie wedge, or a rectangle can have its corners rounded.

To create a geometric shape:

  • enable the relevant tool in the toolbar by clicking on it;

  • on the canvas, press the mouse button and hold while you drag the mouse;

  • release the mouse button to display the shape.

A rectangle is created by clicking and dragging the mouse

Click and drag to create a shape.

Once the mouse is released and the shape is displayed, various handles will become visible. Many of Inkscape’s tools use handles for one purpose or another. But it’s the handles of the geometric shapes which are used for creating many fancy and exciting effects. The handles may be tiny circles, squares and/or diamonds. Sometimes, the same handles can be available for different tools. We will learn more about each handle’s function in the following chapters.

An ellipse, a rectangle and a star

Primitive shapes provide handles as squares, circles or diamonds.

Many features of Inkscape are accessible through keyboard shortcuts, and sometimes even only through key shortcuts. While drawing your shape:

  • press Ctrl while you drag the mouse, with the Rectangle and Ellipse tools, to create squares and circles;

  • press Shift while you drag to draw from the center, rather than from one corner.

Try drawing some shapes, with and without those keys to get an idea of how they can be used.

Several ellipses are combined into a cloud

Sketching a cloud from ellipses.