Working with Selection Tools in Inkscape

Moving, Scaling and Transforming Objects

Select and Transformation tool which more likely to call as Selector is a very basic tool in inkscape. Although this is a basic tool it is use a lot while drawing or desain something on the inkscape workspace. Especially for Drag & Drop, scaling, moving and shifting objects.

You can find this tool at the topmost of the toolbar. You can use F1 button on the keyboard as well. If you are using other tools but selector, you can simply press Space button to get back using Selector.

1. selector tool on inkscape

When you click on an object, there will be eight arrow-shaped handles appear around the object. For example: this recrangle.

2. inkscape selector handle

You can now move the object anywhere on the work area by dragging it. Press Ctrl to restrict movement to horizontal and vertical.

3. restrict movement horizontally and vertically in inkscape

You can also Scale the object by dragging any of the Handle. Press [Ctrl] to preserve the oroginal aspect ratio.

4. scaling object on inkscape

Click on the object again, the Handle will change to Rotate and Skew mode

5. rotate and skew mode in inkscape

Rotate the object by dragging corner handles.

6. rotating object in inkscape

Press Ctrl to restrict rotation to 15 degree steps. Drag the cross mark to position the center of rotation.

7. rotating object every 15 degrees in inkscape

Skew (shear) the object by dragging non-corner handles.

8. skewing object in inkscape

(Press Ctrl to restrict skewing to 15 degree steps.)

9. skewing object in inkscape restrict 15 degrees

While in Selector, you can also use the numeric entry fields in the Controls bar (above the canvas) to set exact values for coordinates (X and Y) and size (W and H) of the selection.

10. numeric fields of coordinates in inksape

Selector works on single object, multiple objects, grouped objects and also imported image such as PNG or JPEG images.

Moving and Transforming by keys

One of Inkscape’s features that set it apart from most other vector editors is its emphasis on keyboard accessibility. There’s hardly any command or action that is impossible to do from keyboard, and transforming objects is no exception.

You can use the keyboard to move (arrow keys), scale (< and > keys), and rotate ([ and ] keys) objects. Default moves and scales are by 2 px; with Shift, you move by 10 times that. Ctrl+> and Ctrl+< scale up or down to 200% or 50% of the original, respectively. Default rotates are by 15 degrees; with Ctrl, you rotate by 90 degrees.

However, perhaps the most useful are pixel-size transformations, invoked by using Alt with the transform keys. For example, Alt+arrows will move the selection by 1 pixel at the current zoom (i.e. by 1 screen pixel, not to be confused with the px unit which is an SVG length unit independent of zoom). This means that if you zoom in, one [Alt+arrow] will result in a smaller absolute movement which will still look like one-pixel nudge on your screen. It is thus possible to position objects with arbitrary precision simply by zooming in or out as needed.

Similarly, Alt+> and Alt+< scale selection so that its visible size changes by one screen pixel, and Alt+[ and Alt+] rotate it so that its farthest-from-center point moves by one screen pixel.

Note: Linux users may not get the expected results with the Alt+arrow and a few other key combinations if their Window Manager catches those key events before they reach the inkscape application. One solution would be to change the WM’s configuration accordingly.

Multiple selections

You can select any number of objects simultaneously by Shift+clicking them. Or, you can drag around the objects you need to select; this is called rubberband selection. (Selector creates rubberband when dragging from an empty space; however, if you press Shift before starting to drag, Inkscape will always create the rubberband.) Practice by selecting all three of the shapes below:

11. selecting multiple objects in inkscape

Now, use rubberband (by drag or Shift+drag) to select the two ellipses but not the rectangle:

12. selecting multiple overlapped object in inkscape

Each individual object within a selection displays a selection cue — by default, a dashed rectangular frame. These cues make it easy to see at once what is selected and what is not. For example, if you select both the two ellipses and the rectangle, without the cues you would have hard time guessing whether the ellipses are selected or not.

Shift+clicking on a selected object excludes it from the selection. Select all three objects above, then use Shift+click to exclude both ellipses from the selection leaving only the rectangle selected.

Pressing Esc deselects any selected objects. Ctrl+A selects all objects in the current layer (if you did not create layers, this is the same as all objects in the document).

Reference: Inkscape Basic

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