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Inkscape Tutorials. This section contains tips and techniques on using Inkscape for drawing cave maps. I get a fair number of questions about using Inkscape for cave maps and I thought it would be useful to archive some of the answers as tutorials so everyone can benefit from the answers. Although Inkscape is fairly similar to Adobe Illustrator, but there are many differences and there are some tricks that can make the process of drawing maps easier. As Compass users and I discover new tools and tricks for using Inkscape, I will post them here so everyone has access:
I. Drawing Drop-Off Symbols. In this section I'll talk about creating "drop-off" symbols and how to bend them around to match their configuration of a specific cave map. The same technique can be used for any other cave symbol that needs to by positioned, rotated and warped to match the passage.
A. Draw the basic symbol. Using the "Beizier Tool" , draw a horizontal line. The line must be horizontal to start with, but you can later rotate, warp and reposition the final symbol. Next draw each of the vertical bars so it looks something like the image to the right. To simplify the process, you can  draw one line and then copy, paste and drag the rest of the lines into position. This insures that they are all the same length.

   

B. Group The Parts. Using the "Selection Tool,"   drag a box around all the lines in the symbol. This will select all the symbol's lines at once. Next, select the "Object->Group" option from the menu bar. This will group all the individual lines into a single object. (If you want to makes sure all the lines have exactly the same widths, styles and colors, you can use the "Path->Combine" option to do almost the same thing. )

C. Bending The Symbol. Select the "Path->Path Effects" option from the menu bar. This will display the "Path Effects" dialog on the right. Next, select the drop-off symbol. Press the "Plus" button and choose the "Bend" effect from the list of effects. Finally, in the "Bend path" section, press the "Edit on-canvas" button.    (Note: Although it looks the same, this button is different from the regular "Node Select" tool.)
When you do this a green horizontal line will appear running through the symbol. You can now drag the green, horizontal line to bend the whole object along an arc. You can bend it on a double curve by pulling the line at seconds point. For example, the double curve to right was created by pulling down on the line near the left side and pulling up on the line on right side.

Note: if you have problems grabbing the line, you've probably switched modes. Reselect the symbol with the Selection Tool  and then press the press the "Edit on-canvas" button.    in the "Bend path" section of the Path-Effects dialog on the right.

D. Controlling the Bends. If you click on the square box at the end of a line, a "Control-Line" with a circle at the end will appear. Dragging the circle will allow you to more precisely control the shape of the bend.

Note: Because of a bug in Inkscape, you must hold down the Shift-Key while dragging the control-line. Otherwise, the control-line will suddenly snap into the wrong position.   

E. Complex Bends. You can insert additional bend-points in the green line to bend the object in more than two places. To do this, click directly on the green line to select it. This will cause the boxes at both ends of the line to be highlighted blue. Now press the "Insert New Node" button   on the top tool bar.

This will insert a new bend-point in the middle of the line. With the new bend point you can now bend the line in three places. By manipulating the control-lines for each bend-point, you can control the exact shape of three bends. (Remember to hold down the shift-key when moving the control-lines.)

You can insert as many bend-points as you want. The more bend-points, the more complex the curve can be. The example on the bottom right show a drop-off symbol with three bends.

F. Rotation. Once you have the exact shape you want, you'll want to rotate the symbol into the proper orientation. You can rotate the symbol by clicking on the symbol twice with the Selection Tool.  This will put rotation-handles around the outside of the symbol. Dragging the handles will rotate the symbol to any position. There are other methods of partially rotating the symbol, but this method is preferable because it doesn't distort symbol in any way.

 

G. Positioning and Scaling. Once you have rotated the symbol to the proper orientation, you can drag the it into its final position and scale the symbol to fit the size of the passage. To position the symbol click on it once with the Selection Tool,    then drag it  into position.

To scale the symbol, drag the small arrows that appear around the object. The horizontal arrows scale the object horizontally. The vertical arrows scale vertically and the corner arrows scale both directions at once.

If you want to scale the object evenly both horizontally and vertically, hold down the control-key while you are dragging. With the control-key down, you it doesn't matter which arrows you drag, they all scale evenly in both directions.

H. Final Adjustments. The final adjustments can be done by dragging the end points of the "bend-line."  Reselect the symbol with the Selection Tool  and then, in the "Path Effects" dialog on the right,  press the press the "Edit on-canvas" button.    in the "Bend path" section.

This will redisplay the green-line. You can now click on the square boxes at the end of the line and drag the ends of the symbol into position. (Be careful to only drag the square boxes; otherwise the shape will be distorted. 

The symbol will be stretched or shrunk and maintain its general shape. If you move the end-points too far, you may need to reshape the object by dragging the circles at the ends of the control lines.

I. Finishing Up. To get the symbol perfectly positioned, you may need to repeat some or all of the previous steps. Once you get a feel for how all the different tools and options work, you'll be able to use only what you need to get the job done.
J. Symbol Libraries. To save yourself the hassle of redrawing the cave symbols every time you need one, Inkscape allows you to create symbol libraries.

To create a symbol library, you generally draw all your symbols on a blank page. You then label each drawing and convert them into a symbols. Finally, you save the symbol drawings to a specific directory. Once the symbols have been saved to the proper directory, they will be loaded into the symbol library dialog every time Inkscape runs so they will
 
The following video tutorial shows you how to convert the drawings to symbols, name them and save them so they are available every time your run Inkscape:
 

 


 

 
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