The Symmetry tab is at the heart of the tiling process. Understanding the different symmetries is necessary to have full control over the outcome of a tiling. The symmetry of the tiling is selected from the pull-down menu under the Symmetry tab (see previous figure).
There are three regular geometric shapes that can be replicated to cover a surface completely (without gaps or overlaps). These shapes are: triangles, rectangles (parallelograms), and hexagons. A complete set of tiling symmetries requires taking these shapes and adding rotations and reflections. It is known that there are 17 such tiling symmetries. (See: Wikipedia entry.) All 17 symmetries are included in the Inkscape Create Tiled Clones dialog. The symmetries are shown next.
The basic tile for each of the 17 symmetries is shown in dark blue in the preceding figures. Inkscape uses the bounding box of an object to determine the basic tile size. For rectangular base tiles, the bounding box corresponds to the base tile. However, for triangular base tiles, the base tile covers only part of the bounding box area. This can result in tiles “overlapping” if an object extends outside the base tile shape (but is still within the bounding box) as in the tiling in the introduction to this chapter. Overlapping can also occur if the base tile is altered after the tiles are positioned.
Inkscape always uses the Geometric bounding box to determine the tile size. This avoids problems when creating a triangular tile with a Stroke where the Visual bounding box doesn't have the same width to height ratio as the Geometric bounding box.
If you need to adjust the base tile size after having created a tiling, you can use the XML Editor dialog to change the parameters “inkscape:tile-h” and “inkscape:tile-w” (these will appear after you have cloned the object and are used only if the Use saved size and position of the tile button is checked).
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