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Inkscape Tutorial - An Isometric Tileset - part 3

Date/Time Permalink: 10/27/09 09:02:36 am
Category: Graphics Tutorials

Continuing our experiment in Inkscape 0.46, we'll find out how to do the more sophisticated isometric tricks.


Any object can be skewed, simply by using the 'transform' dialog. For instance, here's an old ray-trace of mine imported into inkscape and skewed vertically by - remember the isometric magic number! - 30 degrees. Quite handy should the citizens of your isometric town be taking in a matinée!


You might want to scale the bitmap when you import it, smaller in the horizontal direction only. It will look crunched when flat, but after getting skewed 30 degrees it won't look stretched.

This pretty much opens up unlimited possibilities. You can simply draw square tiles in any bitmap editor, import them, skew them, and mash them into the set. Here is a square I filled with Gimp's default 'pine' wood texture, which I then imported, skewed, copied, flipped, and overlapped a couple of sides of our base cube at 50% transparency so the shadows fit, then added a short base block to the top for a roof/trim effect. This cube will now drag 'n' stack just like the base cube does.

You could also do a two-tone bitmap and apply this method to it, then use the vector trace to turn it into a path.



'Perspective' is a new Inkscape feature. To use it, you take any path (and only a path!) and draw another path which will be the perspective to skew. Select the first path and then the second one, and from the menu choose 'effects... modify path... perspective.' Here, let's take some text in a fancy font and with it selected, from the menus we go, 'path... object to path.' Then bump it into the path we want to use...


Being a new plug-in perspective is kind of quirky. It gives me a warning message, but works anyway. Also through trial and error (and error... and error...), I learned that where you begin drawing the target path (the one that shapes the perspective) makes the difference in how the path fits into the box. So if your text goes in sideways, just undo with Ctrl-Z and delete the perspective path and re-do it starting from a different corner. You'll get the hang of it!

Anyway, it's an easy way to make a sign.


We can give a perspective object some depth, too. Here, I've draw a star with the star tool, skewed it 30 degrees, converted it into a path, and from the menus picked 'effects... generate from path... extrude.' I've then taken the result and hit Ctrl-shift-G to ungroup and changed the colors of the original path and the extrusion so you can see what it did.


You might need to play around with the angle a bit (check 'live preview' in the dialog) to get it to match. The angle it extrudes to depends on the original angle of the object. However, making a path copy of the object always sets 0-degrees to dead right and 90-degrees to straight down, in which case our angle would have been 210-degrees - hard right plus 30.

I jazzed up the sign with some framing, lights, and extrusion:


A couple of notes here: 'Extrude' is still somewhat buggy. If you extrude a complex object, such as text, and have stroke turned on so you can see it, you'll notice that in fact extrude doesn't produce a smooth unit, but rather a jigsaw jumble of paths. Some of which will overlap in the wrong places, destroying the 3D effect. If you must, you can ungroup them all and manually fix them, but it's a pain.

Also, the more irregular our objects get, the harder it becomes to get them to behave and snap to the isomentric grid where we want them. Use the transparent tile trick I showed you for the pillar and sphere to force an object to occupy an exact cell.

Well, this concludes the Inkscape isometric graphics course! Hope you got something out of it. Ubuntu doesn't have the Inkscape package up to 0.47 yet, but the next release is around the corner, so I'll probably be doing a lot in Inkscape over the holidays. Just remember this is version 0.46 in this tutorial.

Inkscape Isometric Tileset Tutorial

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