Inkscape: Book Cover

Sometimes I do some graphics work as a side job. This book cover has taken a while to do (fifteen revisions), but I’ve very pleased with it. Made in Inkscape using Ubuntu 10.10.

Doing this piece I found there are a couple of pieces missing from Inkscape for doing production work, perhaps this is why so many people use Scribus-ng. The normal workflow from what I have seen is to make artwork in Inkscape and then transition to Scribus for the nitty gritty of doing production.

I also did the structural editing of the book contents. That is using LibreOffice to haddle all the titles, paragraphs and types as class styles instead of ad-hock ms-word inline styles. Also dealing with the pagination and a bunch of other production issues. LibreOffice was an ok tool, but a lot of the interfaces are confusing and could do with some more design being brought in on them.

Your thoughts?

10 thoughts on “Inkscape: Book Cover

  1. As a graphic designer for many years, I agree that their are production issues in inkscape. I would like to hear what your issues were and your work-arounds. I use all open-source software for personal and church work, but I cannot yet use OSS at a professional production level, without having to do double the work.

  2. Basically the majority of the issues concerned text control, text flow. A lot of other issues were solved by using layers correctly and learning how to organise my work in a way that made it easy to do things.

    What issues did you have?

  3. That’s a very solid piece of work, balanced and appropriate, as far as I can tell from the title.

    Yeah, the main shortcoming of Inkscape in such a setting is text styling and flow. What fun if you want to set some type in a block differently …

  4. In defence of the Inkscape developers (of which I’m _not_ one, so their take on things might be a bit different to mine), I think a lot of the problems with text handling can be traced back, in part, to limitations in the SVG format.

    SVG 1.1 is seriously lacking in text markup and layout options. I think the theory was that in the W3C’s idealised XML world you would just use XHTML in a mixed namespace document.

    That ideal never really panned out, so they started to work on better text specifications for SVG 1.2. Inkscape implemented some of this (their flowed text code in particular), only for the W3C to then pull that from the specification. Having been stung once, I suspect the Inkscape devs have decided to wait until specs are (close to) finalised before implementing such things in future.

    Scribus doesn’t have these problems because it uses a proprietary, albeit open, file format. Other vector editors (such as Illustrator) also use proprietary formats that they can extend at will. Inkscape as a design choice, is limited by what the SVG spec allows.

    I’m not saying that there is no room for improvement – there definitely is – but the Inkscape devs are also not free to implement whatever functionality they can dream up, unless they can also code it in a way that degrades gracefully down to SVG.

  5. @MarkC – Having both written svg by hand and been involved with Inkscape development, I can safely say that text in svg is messed up. But, there are functionalities which for inkscape would be mechanical transformative actions for text and not stored directly (except in the inkscape namespace) as an example lets do justified text:

    Each text line is one tspan, take all tspans and find the total width of the text, for each tspan set the word spacing to the proportion of total width less that tspan’s width. Done. There isn’t a justify option in svg, but there is in inkscape.

  6. As I said, there’s definitely room for improvement. I was just pointing out that a lot of the “why doesn’t Inkscape do X when Illustrator does” comments fail to take into account that Inkscape is constrained by the limitations of SVG.

    Yes, it’s possible to work around a lot of those limitations by mapping Inkscape functionality to SVG, but once implemented those mappings need to be supported into the future. And with ongoing promises of better text support in future versions of SVG, I can understand that the developers might be reticent to code their own functionality and mappings in the interim.

    Ultimately Inkscape is an SVG editor and a vector graphics program. The former limits its technical capabilities, while the latter softly bounds its functional capabilities. In much the same way as the commercial world has both InDesign and Illustrator, so the FOSS world has Scribus and Inkscape. Better text tools would be nice in Inkscape, but the line has to be drawn somewhere: I certainly wouldn’t want to see it become a full-blown DTP program.

  7. Hi Martin, tx for sharing this 🙂
    /me likes a lot!

    I’ll comment on the authorship/advocacy side of this.

    I think you could deliver a bit more information, perhaps an URL / QR code to reach the enigmatic “Doctor Mo” (ie – credits). Perhaps publishing the source and licensing it freely may also encourage other designers to build on your work – depends how you feel about this too.

  8. @Fabian – I like your idea of a QR code. I’m not sure about building on the work since it’s a creative work and commissioned too, these are factors where you have to be careful not to give away the identity of the thing. Of course it’s not a complex design so taking inspiration from it is easy to.

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