Easy Cropping in Inkscape [Cut, Delete, or Select Images]

You can crop an image in Inkscape in ways similar to raster programs such as Photoshop or Gimp.

Use any of the following methods:

  • Clipping: Use shapes, objects, or paths to crop
  • Masking: Crop using any vector object, but also gradients and blur
  • Pattern: Use handles to crop and convert to path to sculpt your crop

In this step-by-step tutorial, I show you 17 ways in which you can use Inkscape to crop both pixel and vector images.

If you want to know more about vector graphics and what you can do with Inkscape, check out these definitive posts:

What Are Vector Graphics Used For? 

What is Inkscape?

Let’s get started.

Method 1: Crop an Image by Clipping

The clip operation in Inkscape lets you place a vector shape, object or path on top of an image in order to “clip” or cut a portion of that image according to the shape used.

It’s like using a cookie cutter to create a cookie from dough.

With clipping, you can crop in Inkscape by using regular shapes, objects such as text, or paths.

1. Clip Using Shapes

To clip an image (assuming you’ve imported your image to Inkscape), first create the shape you’ll be using to clip or cut your image. You can use squares, circles, stars, or any other shape).

Next, place the shape on top of the image in the area you wish to crop, and select both the image and shape, like so:

Clipping in Inkscape with an object

Note that the clipping shape or object always goes on top of the image to be clipped.

Now, go to Object > Clip > Set to apply clipping and crop the image.

The image is now cropped according to the shapes you use to clip (in this case, a square):

Clipping in Inkscape using a square or rectangle

You can also use circles:

Clip an image in Inkscape using a circle

You can use polygons and stars:

Cropping using a polygon

You can even use a vector object, such as text:

Cropping in Inkscape using text

In addition, you can use multiple shapes or paths for cropping images in Inkscape.

2. Clip Using a Path

Instead of shapes, you can also create your own path in order to crop in Inkscape.

One way to do this is to use the Pen Tool (or any drawing tool, such as Pencil) to carefully draw around the shape you wish to crop.

The more patient your are, the more precise the crop. Remember that you can also sculpt the nodes of the path for even more precision:

Cropping in Inkscape with a path

Now, you can go to Object > Clip > Set to crop your image:

Cropping drawing a path around an image

Method 2: Crop an Image by Masking

Masking works in a way very similar to clipping, but with some important advantages.

First, access the tool in Object > Mask> Set :

Cropping in Inkscape using Mask

Like clipping, you can use masking with shapes, objects, and paths, like so:

Inkscape Mask using a circle

HOWEVER, masking allows for gradients and blurs to modify the cropping in special ways. This means you can crop images with feathered edges or translucent areas.

This is the main rule with masking:

  • The part of an object with white fill or border will allow the object beneath to be visible.
  • The part of an object with black fill or border will block any part of the object beneath it.
  • Anything in between (all shades of grey) will become gradually transparent, with corresponding effects on the object beneath.

Let’s take a look at some examples of masking:

You can mask an object by using regular shapes or paths and using different shades of grey in their border or stroke.

Here, I’m using a thick grey stroke on a white circle:

Masking in Inkscape using a circle with grey stroke

Here, I use the calligraphy pen on the marker setting to draw a grey stroke over the image:

Masking in Inkscape with a path with grey stroke

Remember that you can use any shape, stroke, or path.

Furthermore:

You can play with shapes and shades of grey to create even more awesome image cropping, like this:

Cropping in Inkscape with masked strokes or objects

Just be sure to group objects (CTRL + G) before masking.

Here’s another great feature of masking in Inkscape:

You can play with gradients and blur to create interesting image cropping. Here, I’m using a simple gradient to mask my image:

Masking in Inkscape gradient effect

Next, I’m using gradients with different stops, applying black and grey to gradient nodes:

Masking in Inkscape gradient effect

Finally, you can you use masking, a shape, and a simple blur to crop an image in Inkscape, like this:

Masking in Inkscape gradient effect

Method 3: Crop an Image by Pattern

The final method you can use to crop an image in Inkscape is by applying a pattern to the image.

You can apply a pattern to an image or vector object by going to Object > Pattern > Objects to Pattern:

Cropping in Inkscape using pattern

Inkscape then creates a pattern of your image that you can transform by means of special handles similar to those used by the square tool.

To do this, first apply the pattern, select your image, and then select the squares tool to show your new editing handles:

Cropping in Inkscape using pattern

Now you can play a little with the nodes and handles to crop your image in interesting ways:

Using pattern and moving nodes for cropping

Cropping an Image in Inkscape is Easy

Cropping an image in Inkscape can be very convenient for several reasons:

  • It’s easy to apply
  • It’s convenient not to use a raster program such as Gimp or Photoshop, as you work in a vector program
  • It’s quick and efficient

Now you know 3 different methods to crop an image in Inkscape and 17 different ways you can use them.

Which one are you going to use and how?

About the Author:

Ruben Ramirez teaches Digital Media at the University of Puerto Rico and started Self-Made Designer for his students. He likes skateboards, guitars, and vector graphics.

Follow on Instagram: @iconocracia

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