There are so many different graphic design apps to try out there! From online options like Placeit.net to the tried-and-true Illustrator, you might find yourself trying different ones to see which fits your workflow best. One design program many people have problems with is Inkscape. Why does this application look and feel so bad?
Some people believe that Inkscape is a tool that is not worth the trouble. This is because the graphics quality can often be poor, and the user interface can be clumsy and difficult to use. There are other graphic design programs that may be better alternatives.
Inkscape is the perfect vector-drawing program. It’s fast, it’s lean, and it’s super easy to learn. However, as is the case with most software, Inkscape has its fair share of flaws that put many vector-drawing programs out of a job. In this article, we’ll explore the many reasons why Inkscape looks and feel so bad.
Why Designers Use Inkscape
The first reason why designers choose Inkscape is that it is free. In fact, Inkscape comes with a 30-day trial period, which allows you to try out the program without paying a penny. One of the major benefits of using a free tool is that it allows designers to experiment freely with new tools and techniques.
The second reason why designers use Inkscape is because they don’t have to deal with complicated licensing issues. A lot of vector design programs require users to pay for every copy of the software they sell. However, with Inkscape, there are no such issues: you can just download and install the software for free.
While these are great reasons to check out the app, the plethora of issues that designers have run into are cause for concern.
1. The Program is Slow
This may come as a surprise, as we often see people claiming that Inkscape is a breeze to use. However, in reality, it’s one of the slowest vector-drawing programs available.
This may come from the fact that Inkscape doesn’t use any of the advanced functionality of more advanced programs. This is fine for simple line work, but becomes an issue when trying to do more complex things like:
- Complex shapes
- Complex text
2. Line and Curve Paths are Overkill
One of Inkscape’s strongest selling points is the ease with which users can create line art. However, this is not the case for all users, as some prefer curve paths. The problem with curve paths lies in the fact that when you press the curve path button, you’re actually creating a box that contains the path.
To create a complex path, you have to create a separate vector for each direction. This can be time-consuming, so if you’re trying to do a lot of vector work, you may have better luck with another program.
3. Colors are Hard
Colors in Inkscape are limited, with only six available, with two of them being user-defined. Of these six colors, three are surrounded by a 24-bit “saturation mask”. This is the most limiting aspect of Inkscape, as only three colors can be used in any combination.
The other three colors are meant for special effects, such as darkening a color for adding a classy tone to a document. This means that there’s almost no room for optimization, and users are stuck with the coloring provided.
4. There are Too Many Ways to do the Same Thing
Inkscape has a lot of tools, but most of them are not very good. There are some tools that work well, such as the various shapes and paths. However, there are also many options to do the same thing with a different tool.
For example, you may want to draw a rectangle around objects in an image. To do this with Inkscape, you have to use two different editing commands: one for drawing a rectangle and another for creating an outline of the shape.
This is a common problem in all vector graphics programs. The way they work means that it’s hard to do something simple once and then repeat it over and over again.
5. The UI is Unresponsive
This may come as a surprise, as we’ve all been brainwashed to believe that the UI (user interface) of a program is crucial to its usability. However, the truth is that the user interface of a vector-drawing program is actually pretty irrelevant to the speed and efficiency with which your work.
Unlike with other applications, where you have to decide between loading slowly or crashing, with Inkscape you have no way of knowing which path you’ll take and which you’ll end up loading. This leads to a ton of stress for pro users, who have to decide every time they want to create a new design whether or not to take the slow, pixelated path or the fast, clean path.
6. The Undo and Redo Buttons are Awkwardly Placed
Both the Undo and Redo buttons are located awkwardly against the bottom edge of the screen. This is probably the most complained-about UI error, as it leads to users accidentally hitting the Undo and Redo buttons, creating mistakes that they will have to fix later.
When users are trying to use the Undo and Redo buttons, they may also accidentally click on other elements of the UI, such as the wrong \ or [ keys, or the wrong \character key. This can lead to users accidentally creating new work, as they feel they have to go back and fix the mistakes they’ve made.
7. Images can Render Blurry or Pixelated
This is probably the result of a combination of the previous two errors, as images created with Inkscape can sometimes appear blurry or pixelated when viewed on a computer monitor.
This is because there’s no color-coding or “anti-aliasing” involved when working with vectors. This means that the image data isn’t being properly “pushed” to the monitor, which can cause a subtle but significant issue.
To work around this issue, users can either “force” the rendering of the image to a “clean” monitor (by clicking the “force” button), or “normalize” the color temperature of their monitor to prevent the appearance of “shadows” or “highlights” within their images.
The final nail in the coffin for Inkscape is that it simply doesn’t last long enough as a program. Users are often left with vector work that has to be redone because the pathfinding was off, or the image is pixelated or blurry.
Unfortunately, this is a problem that affects almost all vector-drawing programs, so it’s something that will likely stay with Inkscape for the long term. That being said, it’s important to remember that there are plenty of options when it comes to vector-drawing programs, and there are some great programs out there.
If you’re considering Inkscape alternatives, we recommend Placeit.net, as well as GIMP, and the Adobe Suite.