Inkscape Tutorial: Cute Digital Art

Introducting Inkscape

Inkscape is the free (no cost and open source) program for creating vector graphics. It’s like Adobe Illustrator, or CorelDraw, but free. If you’re just getting started with vector graphics, check out the links at the end.

This tutorial illustrates the 5 steps of making a picture “kawaii”, or cute, using Inkscape:


5 steps to Kawaii

The text of the tutorial and some Inkscape-specific tips:
I’m going to start with the following vector drawing, a rendition of my PC set-up at home:

  1. Curves in all the right places
    how to do this in inkscape:
    To add curves to squares, select the square tool and drag the little circle handles on your square shape.

    To add curves to polygons, use the node tool and place two new nodes on either side of the corner node. Then select the corner node and delete it, making a curve between the two new nodes.

    To add curves in general, change the stroke style of all shapes to “round join” and “round cap”.
  2. Soft, creamy colors.
    Even make the “stroke” a paler shade than simply black!
    How to do this in inkscape: On the menu bar, find “Object”>”Fill and Stroke”, this opens a panel for changing the colors.
  3. Add a face! And make strokes thicker.
    Find inspiration from the Kawaii Faces Reference, by Sugarlette on Deviantart. Make most stroke outlines the thickness of the mouth, I usually go with 2px.
  4. Pastel patterned background
    Making a background deserves it’s own tutorial. My general advice is use guides and lots of copy-pasting, simple shapes and monochromatic colors.
  5. White solid outlines (adding an “outer stroke”)
    There is no easy way to do this in Inkscape. My method involves several steps.

    • Group your main image into one object. Then make a copy.
    • Put a dark background beneath the copy. Make the fill and stroke white, and increase the stroke size.
    • Note: This may cause problems if you have areas that were previously unfilled, like the cords that hang below the desk in my image. Those can be fixed at the end.

    • Last step! Put the white copy beneath the original, but above the background. If any areas didn’t have fill in the original, select them individually and set the fill to clear.

Bonus cuteness!

You get extra points for cute animals, hearts, stars, rainbow colors, and sweet tasty foods.
I’d like to see how many things can be made cute. A chainsaw? A bowl of oatmeal? A naked mole rat? The possibilities are endless.

Intrigued? Check out:

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