Monday, 12 May 2014

Meander, an Inkscape Tutorial

Note: this tutorial is outdated !

An updated version can be found here:

Meander were common decorative elements in ancient greek and roman art.
In this tutorial i will show you how to build your own meander pattern in Inkscape.

I also posted the tutorial on InkscapeForum, so if you are interested in reading what people thought of it, and came up with different approaches, click the red link.

1. Set up your document properties: im using the default A4 page size.
For this tutorial we will need a grid with a spacing of 10 x10 px.

2. Start with a circle 500x500px, with no Fill and a Stroke of 1px.
Align this object to the center of your page.

3. Next we will create the pattern for our meander.
Turn on your Grid and zoom in.
Make sure Snapping is enabled. We will also need 'Snap bounding box corners', 'Snap nodes or handles' and 'Snap to grids'.
Start with a rectangle 70x10px, convert it to a path and from there, duplicate, rotate and adjust the length of this base-rectangle to construct the meander-pattern, as you see in the diagram.

4. When you are done, select all rectangles except for the bottom and the top one, and then do a Union (CTRL and +).

5. Next, remove the fill of the two rectangles in red, so they sort of become invisible. These objects act as placeholders.

6. Group the pattern. Then turn off the grid.

7. Select the pattern and the circle, then go to:
'Extensions → Generate from path → Pattern along path'.
(make sure the pattern is on top in the z-order)

Adjust the 'Normal Offset' until the pattern sits on top of the circle.

8. Duplicate your path and scale it, so it touches the top of our pattern along the circle.

9. And finally adjust the Stroke size of your circles to finish your meander pattern.

The increase of the stroke size will make the circle cut into the pattern. So you will have to adjust the circlesize afterwards.
When you hold down CTRL and Shift, the circle will stay perfectly round and shrink/grow from the center.

It took me quite a bit of experimentation till i got the meander the way i wanted it.
I tried tiled clones and a different pattern.
One that had no invisible placeholders. Here you can see what it looks like:

Here is another example with a different pattern:

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