Review of Inkscape 0.48 Illustrator’s Cookbook

18 May 2011

After a slight delay, I’ve had time to settle in to reading Inkscape 0.48 Illustrator’s Cookbook (my very brief overview post on the book) by Mihaela Jurković and Rigel Di Scala. I’ll get the basics out of the way first, so here’s the full chapter list for the book:

  • Chapter 1: Creating and Editing Objects
  • Chapter 2: Editing Colors
  • Chapter 3: Speeding Up Your Workflow
  • Chapter 4: Creating and Editing Clones
  • Chapter 5: Live Path Effects
  • Chapter 6: Extensions
  • Chapter 7: SVG Filters
  • Chapter 8: Putting it All Together
  • Chapter 9: Raster and Almost Raster
  • Chapter 10: Web Graphics Preparation
  • Chapter 11: SVG in Websites
  • Chapter 12: Draw Freely

For those who aren’t familiar, Inkscape is a free, open source vector graphics (specifically SVG) editing software. If you’re new to Inkscape, don’t let the 0.48 version number put you off: you’ll find it surprisingly feature-complete.

Content of the book

As you can see, the book covers quite a range of topics in its 325 or so pages; chapters I found particularly interesting relate to Inkscape extensions (chapter 6), which provides walkthroughs of the various extensions Inkscape provides for graphic manipulation (spirographs, barcode rendering, etc).

Inkscape 0.48 Illustrators Cookbook

Inkscape 0.48 Illustrators Cookbook

I found some of the recipes in Inkscape 0.48 Illustrator’s Cookbook a bit on the odd side (for example, ‘Designing plate rims using layers’ in chapter 3), but whilst the end result may be odd, the concepts it explains are often important, and – importantly – explained clearly and explained in a way that is easy to grasp, even to those readers who may be totally new to Inkscape.

There are, however, some very thorough and impressive Inkscape artworks in there too (chapter 9’s ‘Creating a photorealistic mobile phone’ particularly caught my eye), and some interesting stuff too, especially related to SVG images for use on the web; obviously more theoretical than practical applications, but interesting nonetheless.

Style of the book

As with all of Packt’s ‘Cookbook’ format books, the book’s content is broken down in to ‘recipes’, each with an achievable goal at the end of it that the reader can follow through. The book is written in an easy-to-follow, informal style and there’s quite a liberal use of screenshots to help reassure you’re following the steps in the book correctly, and getting the results the author is.

Overall impressions of Inkscape 0.48 Illustrator’s Cookbook

Even after just an initial flick-through, I was impressed by the breadth and depth of the content Inkscape 0.48 Illustrator’s Cookbook covers. On reading it deeper, I remained impressed – due to its more general nature this book covers a lot more content than the Inkscape 0.48 Essentials for Web Designers (for which I acted as a technical reviewer). Interestingly – though perhaps not surprisingly given as there is another book solely focused on it in the publishers’ repertoire – this is the area of Inkscape 0.48 Illustrator’s Cookbook that I think is the most disappointing; ‘Web Graphics Presentation’ (chapter 9); the recipes in this chapter are, in my mind, too brief to be of much use to beginners, and presumably unnecessary for more advanced Inkscape users, though at least they pay due heed to modern CSS/HTML practices such as CSS sprites!

If you want more information on the book, check out Packt’s pages on Inkscape 0.48 Illustrator’s Cookbook. There’s a free sample chapter available for download too.


Finally, a little disclosure: Packt gifted me the book (worth £27.99 / $44.99 – hardly bank-breaking!) in exchange for this review. As with previous reviews, though, I’ve spoken my mind on the content and the way the content is covered.