Cloning is a special way to copy an object. The cloned copy retains a link to the original object so if that object is changed, the clone will change in the same way. The copies, however, can be transformed (moved, scaled, rotated, and skewed) independently. Technically, the cloning is achieved through the use of the SVG >use< object type.

The style (color, fill pattern, etc.) of the clones can be changed independently but only if the style of the cloned object is Unset. See the section called “Fill and Stroke Paint” in Chapter 10, Attributes.

Only a single object can be cloned at a time. If more than one object needs to be cloned, then those objects can be placed into a Group.

The original may be cloned any number of times. It is also possible to clone a clone. In this case, changing the original will change both clones, while changing the first clone will only change the second clone. It is not possible, however, to set the Attributes independently with multiple layers of cloning.

Inkscape has the ability to relink clones to a another object. To do this, copy the new original to the clipboard. Select all the clones to be relinked and then use the Edit Clone Relink to Copied command. The clones will probably shift in place. In practice, this just changes the xlink:href attribute of the clones to point to the new original.

Inkscape also has the ability to relink clones when the original and clones are copied. Normally, the duplicated clones are linked to the original object, and the duplicate of the original object is not linked to anything. The behavior can be changed by enabling the Relink duplicated clones option in the Clones section of the Inkscape Preferences dialog so that new copies are linked to the copy of the original object.

Inkscape includes the Create Tiled Clones dialog for creating a set of cloned objects that are automatically placed via tiling algorithms. This dialog is very powerful and is sufficiently complex that it deserves its own chapter. See Chapter 19, Tiling, for more information.

The following commands are available for working with clones (Clone and Unlink Clone are also located in the Command Bar).

What happens when you move a cloned object? By default, the clones don't move. This is because if you select an object that was cloned and one of its clones, the two will move together as expected. In the Inkscape Preferences dialog under the Clone section, you can change this behavior so that if a cloned object is moved, its clones also move. But in this case, if you select a cloned object and one of its clones, then move them, the clone will move twice as far—once because the cloned object moved and once because the clone itself was moved. Things can get really strange if you move a cloned object that has been cloned and that clone has been cloned!