Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in

Vector Graphics

Tom's Definitive Linux Software Roundup: Image Apps
By

This page rounds up applications used to create and modify vector images. For those of you who don't know what that is, vector-based images can scale to different resolutions without a loss of quality. This differs from the pixel-by-pixel bitmap images that are locked to the resolution at which they were created.

Vector graphics applications save files in the scalable vector graphics (SVG) format, instead of the familiar JPG or PNG formats used by bitmap image applications like the GIMP and Adobe Photoshop.

Inkscape (v. 0.47)

Inkscape is a popular and incredibly powerful free vector graphics application. While certainly robust enough for artists, Inkscape is the go-to FOSS app for designers. This app is perfect for creating logos and other corporate marketing literature, as well as clip art.

Though the user interface is jam-packed with toolbars, it doesn't feel clunky or cluttered. The menu bar houses every function of the application, though common tasks like copy/paste and zoom reside in the upper toolbar. A vertical toolbar on the left-hand side of the screen is used to switch between tools or change the function of the mouse cursor.

Another one of Inkscape's nifty features is a ribbon on the bottom of the interface, which provides quick access to your color palette. These palettes can be changed, modified, or created from scratch, and it's easy to switch between them on the fly.

Bottom line: Inkscape is a fantastic application on any platform.



Karbon14 (v. 2.2.2)

Karbon14 is the vector imaging component of KDE's KOffice suite. We were able to create a handful of simple shapes with a variety of gradients in a matter of minutes using Karbon14. The zooming function is incredibly fluid, and we were satisfied with the overall performance of this application.

Its feature set, on the other hand, is not comparable to Inkscape. Karbon14 doesn't sport nearly the number of tools and shapes as Inkscape, and its effects list is quite sparse. In fact, Karbon14 comes off more as a vector paint application on steroids than a vector image manipulation app.

The user interface is the standard KDE 4 layout, with fully movable panes filling most of the screen. Current users of any KOffice application should feel right at home in Karbon14. Criticism aside, Karbon14 is a good starting point for anyone totally new to vector graphics, or as an easy-to-use alternative for simple projects.



Xara Xtreme (v. 0.7)

Xara Xtreme used to be a proprietary application, but it was released to open source and ported to Linux several years ago.

Being a former commercial app, Xara's interface is polished and approachable, much like that of Inkscape. Toolbar layout is completely configurable, any of the bars can be shown, hidden, rearranged, or undocked from the main window. Multiple projects can be edited at once in new tabs along the top of the work area.

Anyone used to Xara Xtreme for Windows can make the switch to the Linux version without skipping a beat, and for free.



Skencil (v. 0.6.17)

Skencil is a light vector graphics application. Written in Python, this application will be alien in either GNOME or KDE.

The interface is simple, with the most basic functions housed in the main toolbar and a color selector along the bottom of the screen. Most shapes and tools suffered from ghosting trails in our test document, and any function beyond creating simple shapes was hit and miss.

Whether you're serious about vector graphics or not, Skencil is not the best choice.

Display all 55 comments.
This thread is closed for comments
  • 1 Hide
    jhansonxi , December 2, 2010 4:33 AM
    You forgot MyPaint.
  • -1 Hide
    jkhanlar , December 2, 2010 5:43 AM
    and scrot
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , December 2, 2010 7:20 AM
    darktable is a good alternative to existing products for both management and processing of photos...missing that one in this roundup.
  • 6 Hide
    sudeshc , December 2, 2010 7:32 AM
    dont know exactly why but i never tried Linux i guess its time to take a test drive, thanks toms for this article.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , December 2, 2010 7:34 AM
    I sedcond you, darktable is indeed great RAW software
  • 0 Hide
    dEAne , December 2, 2010 8:01 AM
    wow I didn't know these things, thank you a lot.
  • 7 Hide
    nvarras7 , December 2, 2010 8:23 AM
    Have been on Ubuntu since 10.04 was beta and haven't looked back!
  • -4 Hide
    nvarras7 , December 2, 2010 8:24 AM
    nvarras7Have been on Ubuntu since 10.04 was beta and haven't looked back!

  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , December 2, 2010 9:24 AM
    Definitive? How about programs like feh and gpicview?
  • 0 Hide
    LATTEH , December 2, 2010 10:44 AM
    i love linux! but then i look at my steam account and shed a tire D:
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , December 2, 2010 11:03 AM
    Great article. Its always hard to locate programs when friends ask for good free ones. This will help immensity. Now I'll just point them to this source. Thanks!
  • 0 Hide
    reggieray , December 2, 2010 11:03 AM
    Ubuntu rocks
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , December 2, 2010 11:40 AM
    Picasa is avaiable for Linux...handles RAW images and provides some basic editing capabilities and organization.
  • 0 Hide
    jamesontoms , December 2, 2010 12:32 PM
    Either I'm out of date,
    or Toms Hardware overlooked the three image viewers I use in Debian.
    I have used their features
    slideshow
    full screen

    a. feh
    feh -D 5 #gives a slideshow, changing every 5 seconds
    feg 0t #Uses the thumbnail approach
    n and p for next and previous image
    b. qiv
    -R #so you don't accidently delete a file within qiv ("u" to undelete)
    -s #start a slideshow
    +/- #zoom
    f #full screen

    c. xzgv
  • 0 Hide
    jj463rd , December 2, 2010 12:34 PM
    sudeshcdont know exactly why but i never tried Linux i guess its time to take a test drive, thanks toms for this article.

    Yeah give it a try.You can use the Try Ubuntu method or install it instead on a older secondary PC.It's definitely worthwhile and easy.I've been using it on a couple of systems since version 8.04.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , December 2, 2010 1:27 PM
    Since you're using Blender as an alternative to Maya, I think it's worth mentioning that Autodesk Maya 2011 64bit is officially supported in both RHEL 5.4 and Fedora 11, the latter being completely free.
  • 0 Hide
    ProDigit10 , December 2, 2010 2:03 PM
    Kolour Paint?
  • 0 Hide
    the_crippler , December 2, 2010 2:13 PM
    Really enjoyed the article and am looking forward to the sound one. I love the Gimp, and use it regularly. Some other apps on this list I hadn't heard of or realized a need for their function. Now I have some new software to try out when I get home.
  • 0 Hide
    Peciura , December 2, 2010 2:28 PM
    Time for virtual machine.
  • 0 Hide
    bounty , December 2, 2010 2:41 PM
    Since you go into doc scanning software, any OCR apps?
Display more comments