Yesterday morning, I taught the sixth 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.)
Yesterday’s class, like last Thursday’s class, was primarily a working class. After this class we have only two sessions left, and the students’ artwork is due at the end of next session, so we’ve been giving them as much time as possible during class to work on their designs.
When I passed out the shirt size signup sheet last week, one of the students was absent, so I got his size and sent Walter at EmbroidMe Chelmsford a quick email listing of all the T-shirt sizes we’d need so he would be ready to have the shirts printed when we send the designs on Friday.
I gave some quick instructions on working with the align & distribute tool in Inkscape – since we are getting close to the end of class, I thought going over alignments would be helpful for the students in making final preparations for their artwork to be handed off. One of the scenarios I used to explain align & distribute was making a template for a CD design, and how to use the tool to center the hole in the center of the CD to the circle shape for the actual disc.
Some things that came up while the students worked on their designs.
One student wanted to space some shapes surrounding a center circle at even intervals. I struggled a bit to explain how to do this – we tried using the ‘Remove overlaps’ section of the align & distribute tool, but it turns out that ‘remove overlaps’ behaves really strangely when you’re working with circular shapes. I would expect it to either calculate the spacing between the two objects based on the frame around the circular object, or between the outer edge of the shape at the point where the two shapes are closest together. Instead, it calculates based on the right-most point of the left circle, and the left-most point of the right circle, which results in the tool taking somewhat un-intuitive actions. I ended up instructing her to go around the center circle, clicking two of the outside objects at a time, and using the right-align, bottom-align, left-align, and top-align buttons all around the center circle to get things lined up. A bit more tedious, but at least it seemed to work more predictably than using ‘Remove overlaps.’ You can see her design in the photo above, in case this issue is hard to visualize.
Another student wanted a sword to run through a snake such that one part of the snake was above the sword, and the other was under the sword. We made a copy of the snake using Ctrl + D and a copy of the sword using Ctrl + D, then we used Path > Intersect to get two pieces of the sword from where the snake intersected with it. We used Path > Break Apart to seperate the two sword pieces, and deleted the sword piece that covered the snake in the area where she wanted the snake to run over the sword.
One of the students made some really cool textures using a radial gradient with a lot of different points. However, he faced the challenge of part of his band name not being readable because the background coloration was so vivid behind the letters. I showed him how to make a copy of the text, give it a thick stroke in either white or black, then place it behind the original text so that there was a white outline behind the text to help make it readable. I also showed him how to blur the outline to give it more of a glow effect.
You can see the full set of photos John took of the students work in the Flickr album for session 6. You might start to notice a ‘blood’ theme here :) I think maybe all the vampires from Twilight have had a bit of influence on our youth ;-)
I mentioned in earlier posts that the students were very quiet – during these working sessions they’re definitely a bit more social now, talking to each other and helping each other out. I’m really happy to see that happening. :)
Follow Along on Your Own
Here’s the lesson sheet we used for class yesterday:
Introduction to Inkscape Lesson 6
As always, the OpenOffice.org 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
This course is sponsored by