Inkscape Tutorial: No Agenda Show Art

I recently printed four No Agenda Show album art pieces and hung them on the wall in my office at work. John and Adam, hosts of The No Agenda Show, discussed on the program how much they liked the result and commented that others may wish to do the same. In this tutorial I will cover the few tools and techniques necessary for creating your own No Agenda Show art wall hangings.

I had no idea the lighting in my office was so bad...

I had no idea the lighting in my office was so bad…

I have written this tutorial using Inkscape 0.48 running on Ubuntu 12.04 64 bit. Depending upon your operating system and version of Inkscape, some icons may look differently than the images you see here. The steps and concepts are still relevant.

Install Inkscape

Visit Inkscape.org and navigate to the Download page and download the package relevant to your operating system. Installation instructions are available for each OS on the Inkscape website.

Download the .svg Template and Examples

Download the .zip file linked below and extract the archived files.

inkscape Tutorial Files

Inkscape Basics

Start Inkscape and open the file 578Redacted11X17.svg file by clicking on File > Open in the menu and navigating to the extracted file. Maximize or resize the application window so you can comfortably work with the program and see all of the various tools and buttons around the outside of the canvas.

One of the first things you should get comfortable with is moving around within the canvas.

Zoom to Fit Page in Window

Zoom to Fit Page in Window

The Zoom to Fit Page in Window button at the top of the page will center the page you are viewing within the work space and zoom it to an optimal level. Here are some other shortcuts for moving around in the canvas:

  • The scroll wheel on your mouse moves the canvas vertically
  • Holding the Shift key on your keyboard while scrolling will scroll horizontally
  • Holding the Control key while scrolling will zoom the image in and out
  • Holding the second mouse button (usually the by pushing down on the scroll wheel) while moving the mouse will ‘grab’ the canvas and move it around within the workspace

This is all you really need to know for the purposes of this exercise. Let’s move on.

Importing Images

Now you’ll want to go to noagendaartgenerator.com and find the show art you’d like to put on your wall. I usually go to the Accepted Artwork page because I am looking for the art that John and Adam used for the shows. Be sure to click on the thumbnail and view the ‘big’ version of the file. Once you are on the page dedicated to the particular episode, right click on the image and save it to your computer.

Return to Inkscape and import the image. You may drag the file directly from your file manager onto the canvas or use the File > Import dialog box. For this tutorial, you may use one of the image files included in the archive I have provided.

You will see a dialog box asking if you’d like to embed or link the image. We will be embedding our images. Discussion on the difference between the two methods can be found in the Inkscape documentation but is beyond the scope of this tutorial. Select the embed radio button and click OK.

The new art will be imported and appear somewhere on the canvas. Newly imported images are selected by default and have a dotted outline and 8 transformation handles (black arrows) at the corners and sides. The image is now an object on the canvas and can be manipulated.

Objects

Select and Transform Objects

Select and Transform Objects

Objects in Inkscape can be imported images, vector shapes, text and more. Our canvas now has four individual objects: A black box (the background or matte), the original artwork for show 578, the No Agenda logo near the bottom and our newly imported image. Make sure the Select and Transform Objects tool is activated by pressing F1 or clicking it in the toolbar. You can now select and manipulate the various objects.

Clicking on and dragging the original artwork in the middle of the page, for example, will show you that there are actually two objects stacked one on top of the other. Press Control+Z to undo this movement or simply press the Delete key to remove it since we want to replace it with our own image anyway. You may also right click on the object and select Delete from the context menu.

Align and Distribute

Align and Distribute Objects

Align and Distribute Objects

Open the Align and Distribute Objects panel by clicking on the icon in the top toolbar or by pressing Shift+Control+A. In the Align section of the panel there is a drop-down menu labeled Relative to:. Set this value to ‘First selected’. This means that the first selected object will be the anchor to which all other selected objects are aligned. It is easier to understand this by doing.

Select our black matte box by clicking on it. Now hold the Shift key and click on the imported image. Now both objects have the dotted outline and share one set of transformation handles. Click on the Center on vertical axis button in the Align and Distribute panel and the art will be aligned with the black matte box in the vertical center of the page.

Alignment Section

Alignment Section

If the black box moved, press Shift+Z to undo. Click on a white space on the canvas to de-select the objects and select them again, black box first. Also check to make sure that First selected is chosen in the Relative to: area in the Align and Distribute panel.

Now Click the Center on horizontal axis button and the art is now in it’s rightful place. Congratulations.

Export to PDF

It is now time to print your masterpiece. I have found that printing from Inkscape can be problematic, although you are more than welcome to try. I always export my art as a PDF before printing and will cover that step now.

Click on File > Save a Copy… and make sure Portable Document Format (*.pdf) is selected. Enter a name for your file and click Save. The Portable Document Format dialog box will appear. The settings are discussed below:

  • Restrict to PDF version: The default setting is acceptable
  • Convert texts to paths: This is a very useful feature but not applicable to our situation; leave unchecked
  • PDF+LaTeX: Omit Text in PDF, and create LaTeX file: Again, not applicable; leave unchecked
  • Resolution for rasterization (dpi): Not applicable, leave unchecked
  • Export area is drawing: This box must remain unchecked
  • Export area is page: We want our PDF to be the same dimensions as our image; check this box
  • Limit export to the object with ID: Leave this field blank

Double check your settings and click OK. Your PDF is now created and can be printed! LGY!

Printing Tips

The file we have been working on will generate a PDF that has a native size of 11″ by 17″. This is referred to in the United States as tabloid or ledger size. Most home printers will not take paper this size, however, most copy shops will be able to print a PDF onto this size paper. Whether you decide to print it yourself or have it done for you, here are a couple of things to keep in mind:

  • The thicker the paper, the better. I used copy weight paper and found that it rippled in the frame and looked terrible. I then switched to card stock to get the right look.
  • When printing the PDF, pay particular attention to the Page Scaling settings. You want the None setting or something similar. PDF viewing software will often try to save you from missing the edges of the page because most printers will not print to the edge of the paper. We left a margin and do not want to use this feature.
  • I used a laser printer and it looks great. Your results may vary.

Different Sizes

Included in the downloadable archive are files for different sized printouts. If you would like your art a little smaller, or would like to print it on your home printer, I have included several other files.

578RedactedA4.svg and 578RedactedLetter.svg: These files have the canvas size set to A4 size and U.S. Letter size respectively.

578Redacted8X10A4.svg and 578Redacted8X10Letter.svg: If you have 8″ by 10″ photo frames and would like to use them for your No Agenda Show art you may use these files. They have crop marks that serve as cutting guides.

Good Luck!

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