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Start with Inkscape

The Calligraphy Tool

What was a goose quill in antiquity, is Inkscape's calligraphy tool in the digital world. Ideally, it should be used with a graphics tablet and stylus, with one hand on the graphics tablet and the other one on the keyboard, which moves the canvas, so one can write without interruption.

Icon for Calligraphy Tool  [Ctrl]+[F6] or [c]



A varied set of options exists for simulating different brushes, in case the default brushes that come with Inkscape do not suffice.

  • Dip pen. Emulates a bevelled pen tip.
  • Marker. Emulates a round and regular tip.
  • Brush. Emulates a soft, thinning ellipse.
  • Wiggly. Emulates a very jumpy round brush.
  • Splotchy. Emulates a quill.
  • Tracing. This allows you to emulate an engraving, by drawing more or less regular lines over a drawing that serves as a model.

The button to the right, Add or edit calligraphic profile, allows you to save and load the settings made in the following options, under a brush name of your choice.

Every brush is a result of the following parameters:

  • Width. Here you can set the width of your brush.
  • The Pressure sensitivity icon is only useful when a graphics table is used for drawing.
  • The Trace lightness icon needs to be active when you want to use the Engraving feature.
  • Thinning. Determines the width of the brush stroke at the start and end of the line.
  • Angle. Determines the quill's angle.
  • Fixation. Determines how much the angle will change when the draw direction changes.
  • Caps. Determines the shape of the brush stroke's ends.
  • Tremor. Adds a little random to the brush stroke.
  • Wiggle. Adds the unexpected.
  • Mass. Simulates the weight of the tool used, which has an impact on the stroke's shape.

Dip Pen setting of Calligraphy Tool

The ends of a line drawn with the Dip Pen setting are cusp.

Marker setting of Calligraphy Tool

With the Marker setting, the paths look smooth and their ends are rounded.

Brush setting of Calligraphy Tool

The setting Brush creates slightly rounded and uneven strokes.

Wiggly setting of Calligraphy Tool

The Wiggly setting allows you to draw very organic shapes.

Splotchy setting of Calligraphy Tool

When set to Splotchy, the result looks a bit like calligraphy.

Tracing setting of Calligraphy Tool

With the calligraphy tool setting Tracing, drawings that look like an old engraving can be created. The image below serves as a model.

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