A Hiking Club Logo—An Exercise in Paths

We will use Inkscape to draw a logo for the Fuji Hiking and Mountaineering Club, as shown below. This tutorial will cover the use of text, importing a bitmap for use as a guide in drawing, and manipulation of paths.

FHMC Logo
Logo for the Fuji Hiking and Mountaineering Club.

The steps are:

Procedure 1.3. Creating the Fuji Hiking and Mountaineering Club Logo

  1. Set up the drawing.

    To begin, start Inkscape.

    Follow the instructions for setting the page size and grid spacing given in the Swedish flag example, but set drawing size to a width of 500 and a height of 300 pixels. Do not create a Grid.

  2. Create the text.

    1. Enter the text.

      Select the Text Tool icon from the Tool Box (keyboard shortcut F8). Click on the left side of the page to establish a starting point for the text. You should see a blinking bar. Type the initials for the club FHMC; the text should appear in a small size on the page.

    2. Adjust the text.

      The text is too small and may not use the most suitable font. To change the attributes of the text, use the items in the Text Tool-Tool Controls.

      With the text selected, choose a suitable font from the pull-down menu on the left. Nimbus Roman No9 L is a good freely available font with the wide serifs needed for the logo. Select the Bold style by clicking on the Bold ( icon ) icon in the bar, and set the Font size to 144. The changes to the text are shown immediately.

      Finally, center the text near the bottom of the drawing by using the Select Tool and dragging the text down.

      The text for the logo
      The text for the logo, sized and positioned.
  3. Import the guide for the mountain shape.

    We'll use as a basis for the shape of Fuji San a bitmap tracing of the mountain. You could use any suitable drawing or picture of the mountain (in PNG, GIF, or JPEG format). You can download the same image used here from the book's website: http://tavmjong.free.fr/INKSCAPE/.

    1. Import the bitmap.

      Import the bitmap using the Import dialog (File icon Import... (Ctrl+I)).

    2. Adjust the bitmap.

      The bitmap's image size doesn't match well with the text. The easiest way to adjust the size is to select the image with the Select Tool icon (keyboard shortcut F1). When the image is selected, a set of double-headed arrows appears around the bounding box (dotted line) of the image. Dragging on the handles will scale the image. Dragging while holding down the Ctrl key will keep the width to height ratio constant. Dragging on a non-transparent part of the image will move the whole image. Note that if you click on the image twice with the Select Tool, the corner arrows change to rotation arrows. Just click on the image one more time to restore the scale arrows. One can also use the Arrow keys to move the image. Note: You may want to decrease the zoom a bit (3 when image selected) or widen the Inkscape window before enlarging the image.

      Scaling the image.
      Image selected and with arrows, ready for scaling.

      Drag on the corner arrows while holding down the shift key and drag the image until you are happy with the scale and placement. I have chosen to center the top of Fuji over the right side serif of the H.

      The placement of the mountain image.
      The outline of Fuji San, sized and positioned.
  4. Manipulate the text.

    In this section, we will convert the text to a Path so we can alter the shape of the letters. The text needs to be extended upward, above the outline of the mountain so that we can clip it to match the shape of the mountain. We will also make a few additional cosmetic changes to the letters.

    1. Convert the text to a path.

      The text, stored as a text object, needs to be converted to a path object for editing. This process is not reversible and the text will lose its memory of being text. To convert the text to a path, select the text with the Select Tool and use the Path icon Object to Path (Shift+Ctrl+C) command. As of v0.47, each letter is converted into a separate path and all the paths are placed in a Group (when objects are in a Group they can be manipulated as if they were one object). This is normally a good thing, but for our purposes it would be better if all the letters were not grouped and were composed of one path. So, with the text selected, use the Object icon Ungroup (Shift+Ctrl+G) command to remove the group and then Path icon Combine (Ctrl+K) to combine the paths.

    2. Extend the text upward.

      1. Extend the F and H up.

        We'll start with extending the F and H. Select the Node Tool icon (F2). And click on the F to select it.

        The text is now surrounded by a series of small diamonds. These are the nodes of the path. They define places where the path changes direction or curvature. The path is edited by manipulating these nodes.

        At this point, it is easier if you zoom in on the drawing. There are multiple ways to zoom. Using the Ctrl key with the scroll wheel of a scrolling mouse is one way. The drawing will zoom around the cursor position. Another way is to use the + or = keys. In this case, the zoom is around the center of the viewable canvas. The scroll bars can be used to pan the drawing (i.e., change the viewable region).

        Ready to extend the F and H.
        Ready to extend the F and H. You can see the diamond-shaped nodes.

        To select a node, click on it with the Node Tool. Holding the Shift key down allows nodes to be added (or removed) from the selection. One can also use a rubber-band selection technique to select multiple nodes at one time. To do this, click-drag from one point to another. All nodes within the box defined by the starting and stopping points will be selected. The click-drag must not begin on a node. The selected nodes will change from gray to blue and yellow when selected.

        Select the top nodes of the F and of both sides of the H. A total of seven nodes are selected in this example (there are two on top of each other at the upper-right corner of the F). If you have chosen a different font you may have to select a different number.

        Now click-drag on any of the selected nodes upward, holding the Ctrl key down to constrain the direction of the drag to vertical. Drag until all the selected nodes are above the outline of the mountain.

        Extension of F and H.
        After the F and H have been extended.

        One problem that is immediately apparent is that the extended parts hide part of the bitmap image. This problem can be alleviated by temporarily removing the Fill of the text objects. To do this, open the Fill and Stroke dialog (Object icon Fill and Stroke... (Shift+Ctrl+F) or click on icon in the Command Bar ...; you may need to click on the down arrow at the end of the bar if the icon is not shown). Select the Fill tab and click on the icon icon (No paint) while the text is selected. If the text is no longer visible, you will need to make the stroke visible. In the Fill and Stroke dialog, select the Stroke paint tab and click on the icon icon (Flat color) or hold the Shift key down and click on one of the colors in the Palette.

      2. Extend the M.

        Extending the M may be more difficult than extending the first two letters, it depends on the font selected. For Nimbus Roman No9 L, we need to add two extra nodes in order to preserve the shape of the stems of the M.

        Use the Node Tool to select the four nodes at the top of the M. Click on the icon icon (Insert New Node) in the Tool Controls. This will add two nodes, each halfway between the pairs of adjacent selected nodes. Click on the background to deselect all the nodes, then click-drag the new node on the left side to be above the rightmost node of the left serif, as shown next.

        Extension of M.
        In the middle of the process to extend the M.

        Do the equivalent for the new node on the right side.

        Now select the four top nodes of the serifs (the two new nodes replacing two of the previous top nodes) and drag them up, holding the Ctrl key down to constrain their movement in the vertical direction. Move the nodes above the mountain.

      3. Extend the C.

        Extending the C also requires a bit of node manipulation. Select the leftmost node and the top-center node of the C. Convert these to Corner nodes by clicking on the icon icon in the Tool Controls. This will allow the path to have an abrupt change in direction at the nodes. Click on the icon icon in the Tool Controls to convert the selected segment to a line. Click on the background to deselect both nodes, then click-drag the topmost node of the line to move it above the lower node of the line, as shown next.

        Extension of C.
        In the middle of the process to extend the C. The arrow shows the movement of the node and the dotted line, the new position of the line segment.

        Select all the nodes along the top of the C and drag them above the mountain, again using the Ctrl key to constrain the movement in the vertical direction.

      The text path should now look like this:

      Extension of "FHMC".
      After all the characters in the text have been extended above the mountain image.
    3. Adjust kerning.

      The kerning of the text isn't quite right. The C is too far from the M. This could have been corrected while the text was still a Text object, but it would have been hard to get correct spacing without seeing the newly extended parts.

      To move the C, use the Node Tool to select all the nodes in the C, then use the left and right Arrow keys to move the C until the gap between the C and M matches the gaps between the F and H, and the H and M. If the movement step is too large, use Alt+Arrow to make smaller movements.

      Adjust the spacing between the other letters if needed.

    4. Fill in the gap in the M.

      The gap between the two extensions of the M is a bit wide. To reduce the visual effect of the gap we will add a block in between.

      1. Add the rectangle.

        Select the Rectangle Tool icon (F4) and click drag a rectangle between the extensions of the M as shown below. Use the rectangle handles to adjust the position.

        With rectangle.
        The text after adding a rectangle between the extensions of the M.
      2. Merge the rectangle with text.

        For later steps, the rectangle object must be merged with the text path. Select with the Select Tool both the rectangle and the text path. Then use the command: Path icon Combine (Ctrl+K) to create one path out of the two. The rectangle object is automatically converted to a path object before the merge.

  5. Trace the bitmap mountain to form a new path.

    The top of the extended text will be trimmed with the shape of Fuji San. To do this, the bitmap image of the mountain must be converted to a path. But first, make any last-minute adjustments to the position of the mountain using the Select Tool.

    Inkscape includes a tool to trace the bitmap automatically (Chapter 19, Tracing Bitmaps) but the path produced is too complicated for our use.

    Instead, we will use the Pencil Tool icon (F6). Starting at one end of the mountain, click-drag the pointer along the top edge of the mountain to create a new path. When you reach the far end, loop the path back to the starting point, as shown next.

    The mountain as a path.
    After tracing the mountain to form a path, the stroke color has been changed to red to make it easier to see.

    It is not important that the ends of the path meet exactly. It is important that the loop encloses all of the tops of the letters. The path can be tweaked by using the Node Tool to reposition any wayward nodes. It helps to make the path a different color using the Fill and Stroke dialog.

  6. Trim the tops of the letters.

    We'll use the Path Difference command to subtract the overlap between the mountain path and the text path from the text path. It is important that the mountain path be on top of the text path because this command subtracts the top path from the bottom path. As the mountain path was created after the text path, it should already be on top.

    To do the path subtraction, select both the mountain path and the text path using the Select Tool (hold the Shift key down while selecting the second object) and then use the Path Difference command: Path icon Difference (Ctrl+-). The mountain path will disappear and the text path should look like below.

    The trimmed text
    The text after trimming to the outline of the mountain.
  7. Adding the snow to the mountain top.

    You could now delete the bitmap of Fuji San, change the fill of the text object to solid black, and call it a day, as shown next.

    Logo sans snow.
    The logo without snow on Fuji San's top.

    But it might look better if the logo included a snow cap.

    To create a snow cap, zoom in on the bitmap image of the snow and the use the Pencil Tool to trace the snow, creating a loop as with the mountain top below.

    The snow as a path.
    After tracing the snow to form a path.

    The next step is to create a copy of the text object, with which to cut the snow path with. To create a copy, select the text and then click on the Duplicate icon icon in the Command Bar or use the menu entry Edit icon Duplicate (Ctrl+D).

    With the Shift key down, select the snow path. Both the duplicate text path and snow path should be selected. Use the Path Intersection command: Path icon Intersection (Ctrl+*) to combine the two paths. The logo should look like:

    Logo with snow.
    The logo after adding a path for snow.
  8. Finishing touches.

    1. Delete the Fuji San bitmap

      The bitmap is no longer needed. Delete it by selecting it and then using Edit icon Delete (Delete) or Ctrl+X.

    2. Correct Fill and Stroke.

      Change the fill of the text object to black. Change the Fill of the snow object to white and the Stroke paint to black.

    3. Widen the snow outline.

      The snow outline looks a bit thin. To give it more definition, use the Stroke style tab of the Fill and Stroke dialog. Change the width to 3 pixels. The width of the text path must also be changed to 3 pixels to match.

The logo is now finished. Save your work as in the previous tutorials.

Finished logo.
The finished logo.