Pattern Along Path

This effect puts one or more copies of one path (pattern) along a second, control or skeleton path. The resulting object takes the attributes (Fill, etc.) of the skeleton path.

This LPE duplicates much of the functionality of the Pattern along Path extension. The advantage of using the LPE version is that both the pattern and the skeleton path can be edited at a later time. The disadvantages are that only paths can be used for the pattern and that there are fewer options. One subtle difference is that the LPE version will bend straight lines drawn with two nodes while the extension version leaves them straight.


Only a path can be used as a pattern. Many objects such as Rectangles, Ellipses and text must first be converted to a path (Path icon Object to Path (Shift+Ctrl+C)).

To put a pattern on a path:

  1. Copy the pattern:  Select the pattern and copy it to the clipboard (Edit icon Copy (Ctrl+C)). The pattern must be a single path.

  2. Select the skeleton path:  Only one can be selected.

  3. Apply the effect to skeleton path:  In the Path Effect Editor dialog, select Pattern Along Path and click on the Apply button.

  4. Paste pattern:  Click on the Paste ( icon ) icon in dialog.

The bounding box of the pattern is used for placing the pattern along the path, with the bounding box of one pattern copy touching the bounding box of the next copy (if no additional spacing is specified).

Bend Along Path effect.
Demonstration of the Pattern Along Path effect. Top: Pattern path. Middle: Skeleton or control path. Bottom: After pasting pattern to skeleton path and enabling editing of the skeleton path. Note that the created object takes the attributes of the skeleton path.

To edit the pattern, click on the node editing icon ( icon ) in the dialog. A temporary green copy of the pattern will appear at the pattern's original location. Any edit to this copy will be reflected in the final object.

To edit the skeleton path, select the object with the Node Tool. A temporary red copy of the skeleton path will appear. This can be edited as any other path.

A different pattern can be applied to the skeleton path by copying the pattern to the clipboard ((Edit icon Cut (Ctrl+X) or Edit icon Copy (Ctrl+C)) and then clicking on the Paste ( icon ) button in the dialog.

A copy of the original pattern can be placed on the clipboard by clicking on the Copy ( icon ) button in the dialog. The copy will have all attributes unset.

The Pattern copies drop-down menu has options to stretch the pattern to the path length and/or to put multiple copies along the skeleton path.

Bend Along Path effect: Repeat.
A small lizard is put on a path with Pattern copies set to, from top to bottom: Single; Single, stretched; Repeated; Repeated, stretched.

The LPE assumes that the pattern is drawn horizontally. This can be changed to vertical by checking the Pattern is vertical box.

Bend Along Path effect: Vertical pattern.
A small lizard is put on a path with the Pattern is vertical box checked.

New in v0.47:

You can specify the spacing between each copy of the pattern with the Spacing parameter. You can also specify a transverse (Normal offset) and/or a tangential (Tangential offset) for each copy. The spacing and offsets are specified in pixels by default. Checking the Offsets in units of pattern size will use units of the pattern size (width for spacing and transverse offset, height for tangential offset).

Bend Along Path effect: Offsets.
From left to right: A blue square pattern is placed along the the path indicated by the arrowed line. Spacing set to 10 pixels. Normal offset set to 10 pixels. Tangential offset set to 10 pixels.

New in v0.47:

One last option, Fuse nearby ends, joins copies of the pattern into a continuous path. It is similar to using the Join selected endnodes ( icon ) option of the Node Tool to connect sub-paths.