Inkscape Class

Inkscape Class Day 2

Inkscape Class Day 2

Early this morning I taught the second session of an 8-session (40 minutes per session) course on Inkscape at a Boston-area middle school. (For more general details about the class check out my blog post on day 1.)

Today’s Class

Today’s class was split up into two major sections.

T-Shirt Technologies and Specifications

First, Walter Miska from EmbroidMe Chelmsford went over different T-Shirt printing technologies and gave the students the specifications for their T-shirts that he has so generously volunteered to produce at the end of the class. Here’s a list of the T-shirt printing technologies he covered (and he showed off samples of each, I wish I thought to take photos!):

  • Screen printing
  • Screen printed transfer
  • Sublimation
  • Transfers
  • Direct-to-Garment

Walter produced a great worksheet running down the details of these – he has given me the okay to publish his worksheet here (and on the course website) under a Creative Commons Attribution license. You’ll find it in the files list below.

The students’ designs will be printed on light ash grey t-shirts. The maximum print area is 13″ wide and 15″ long. Walter’s going to use the relatively new direct-to-garment technology to produce the shirts. It turns out it’s safest to work with PNG files so we will be exporting the students’ work to 300 dpi PNG files to deliver to Walter.

I’m going to take down each students’ size next class and get them to Walter. I’m also going to send him a sample design tonight created in Inkscape that he is going to do a test print of just to make sure there aren’t any hiccups with SVGs created in Inkscape.

Shapes, Paths, & Pen

The theme for today’s lesson was shapes, paths, and pen. We started out with basic shapes and talked about the shape-specific toolbars for each – we drew squares, rectangles, circles, and spirals, then modified the squares to be rounded, modified the circles to look like Pac-Man, and changed the spirals so they were tighter and looser.

Then we dove into star & polygon-based shapes. We went from triangle, 5-point stars, and pentagons, right into rounded and randomized stars and complicated rosettes. Here’s one students’ work – it’s a rosette that’s been slightly randomized for a cool organic feel:

Inkscape Class Day 2

Next we talked about the differences between shapes and paths, we converted our shapes into paths, and then played around using the path operations – union, intersection, exclusion, difference, and division. One quick exercise I had the students do was to create a bunch of circles in the shape of a cloud, then use union to make one unified cloud shape:

Inkscape Class Day 2

Finally, we did a very quick and simple intro to the pen tool. We didn’t use bezier curves at all, we just did simple click-click-click straight-lined paths and straight unclosed paths as well. To practice basic pen usage I asked the students to create paths for the letters of their name using the pen tool:

Inkscape Class Day 2

Inkscape Class Day 2

Inkscape Class Day 2

These students are QUICK. I jam-packed the lesson for today since the students moved so quickly through the first session, but thought we wouldn’t make it all the way through for sure since Walter was coming to talk to today. We got through the entire lesson, however, with a few minutes to spare. Actually, I was amazed that within the first couple minutes of the lesson, one of the students had already gotten several pages into the lesson packet and even completed the first exercise on the exercise sheet!

Thanks to your suggestions in the comments to my post from the first day of class, I thought to bring my camera and I took some quick (and regrettably blurry) shots of the students work from the lesson exercises, so please check them out if you’re curious. I wish I had taken shots of the example shirts Walter had brought as well. I’ll try to get better about taking pictures as class progresses. 🙂

Follow Along on Your Own

For those of you following along at home, here’s the lesson plan and exercise sheets we used for the class today:

Introduction to Inkscape Lesson 2

Introduction to Inkscape Lesson 2 Exercises

T-Shirt Project Specifications

These were written by Walter Miska of EmbroidMe Chelmsford. They review the different types of T-Shirt printing and also go over the specifications for the students’ design.
T-shirt specs

As always, the source files and the outlines for the entire course are at the course page on my website – but please note that’s a rough outline; as we progress through the class I’m coming up with the more-solid lesson plans based on how far the students get each session. By the end of the course I hope to have the course page organized much better.

By the way, if you’d like to follow all the blog posts about this class at one URL without getting the rest of my feed, I’ve set up a category in WordPress specifically for these posts:

Enjoy! And please do let me know in the comments if you have any questions or suggestions! Your comments last week definitely helped me out this week 🙂

This course is sponsored by

About Máirín Duffy

Máirín is a principal interaction designer at Red Hat. She is passionate about software freedom and free & open source tools, particularly in the creative domain: her favorite application is Inkscape. You can read more from Máirín on her blog at


12 thoughts on “Inkscape Class Day 2

  1. Glad the class is working out so well!

    Posted by Ray | January 12, 2010, 9:39 pm
  2. Very nice work, looking forward for the next lesson 🙂

    Posted by timlau | January 13, 2010, 2:00 am
  3. You *must* follow with the part about printing… even if using direct-to-garment I believe is noting more than just printing a SVG on a special “printer”, possibly with the restriction of needing a simplified SVG.

    I think you can give more and more complex exercises so the students have something to think about at home, an incentive to explore more.

    Posted by Nicu | January 13, 2010, 4:29 am
    • Hi Nicu, you’re right, it turns out the Inkscape SVGs don’t turn out so well so we’ll need to use 300 dpi PNG exports. That being said, I sent Walter the PNG sample from Inkscape and he said it came out fine on the test T-shirt – I’m going to get the shirt tomorrow so I’ll take a photo so you can see. 🙂

      I just posted Walter’s notes too.

      Posted by mairin | January 21, 2010, 1:34 am
      • Thanks! I read his notes and my first reaction about direct to garment printing was: no white? this is bad… but maybe you can print very light grey, so light that it is almost white :p

        Posted by Nicu | January 21, 2010, 5:20 am
  4. These Inkscape class posts are fantastic! I’d like to use them with my high school students this spring if that’s OK. The technology at our school has been in such bad shape for so long that another teacher has started a “freegeek” style ( open-source project which has had great success. I’d love to springboard off of that by offering a class in Inkscape and GIMP- I used to teach using Photoshop, but haven’t had the necessary technology to keep that going in recent years. I can’t wait for the next post!

    Posted by Sarah | January 20, 2010, 2:24 pm
    • Hi Sarah!

      By all means, PLEASE use the course content I’ve been posting. It’s all licensed Creative Commons Attribution 3.0. I would be so happy if you could make some use of it with your students!

      I’m hoping to post the summary on class #3 today so look for it! 🙂

      Posted by mairin | January 20, 2010, 2:44 pm
  5. for Inkscape SVGs 300 dpi PNG are reccomended

    Posted by brian | June 11, 2010, 2:07 am


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