Guitar Design With Inkscape

used to design my guitar ideas on paper. Then I started to use Photoshop and it worked much better for me, I could design, modify as much as I wanted and then print on multiple pages.

But Photoshop is a pixel-based software and is not ideal for guitar planning and design. Adobe Illustrator is a much better alternative for this task because it’s a vector-based design tool. However, Illustrator is costly.

Enter Inkscape

Inkscape is an open-source Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) editor similar to Adobe Illustrator and Corel Draw. However, unlike Illustrator, Inkscape is free!

Don’t let the word “free” fool you, Inkscape is a fully-featured tool.

That being said, Inkscape was never built for guitar designers so it’s not a perfect tool, there are many area that Inkscape can be improved, e.g. the measurement tool. But overall, Inkscape is a great tool and the one I choose to use.

Explorer Models With Inkscape

What Can You Do With Inkscape?

  • trace guitars
    • your own designs (for safe keeping and for modifications)
    • any guitar from the Internet
    • from a photograph
  • modify the design
    • using the Bezier curves tool
    • make changes to any part of the guitar easily
    • extend, scale, twist, straighten, curve, elongate, etc.
  • create a database of guitar designs and ideas
    • keep many design ideas of body, fingerboard, neck, headstock, bridge, etc.
  • be creative
    • create completely new designs
    • create hybrid designs (combine different elements from different guitars into one)
    • incorporate ideas from different guitars into your own
  • inlays
    • create any inlay design
  • print it only when your design is ready
    • using a regular printer, on multiple sheets
Trace of a Schecter guitar body. The opacity of the guitar body is reduced. The path is selected.
Trace of a Schecter guitar body. The opacity of the guitar body is reduced. The path is selected.

Link to Inkscape website

If you are new to this type of software, then it may take you some time to learn it. There are many tutorials online, but for the purposes of designing a guitar, focus on the Bezier pen tool and paths.

Let me know if you have any questions or comments.

About araz

I'm an ex research scientist, now building electric guitars :)

7 thoughts on “Guitar Design With Inkscape

  1. Hello. What I want to do should be fairly simple, but I’m having trouble figuring out how to do it. All I want to do is enlarge a pic of a guitar body to scale and print it into sections. I tried it with GIMP and failed there, so I want to try it with Inkscape. Can you help me?
    Thank you for any help you can give me.

    1. Hi Ron, I do that all the time with Inkscape, it’s very easy.

      Assuming you are strating from scratch:
      Step 1. download and install Inkscape from https://inkscape.org/en/download/
      Step 2. download and install this add-on called RealScale (follow the instructions for installation) https://inkscape.org/en/~Moini/★realscale-resize-by-line-of-known-length
      Step 3. open Inkscape (sometimes it takes a while when opening for the first time)
      Step 4. open your image into Inkscape
      Step 5. draw a line on the guitar, for example draw the scale length between the nut and bridge
      Step 6. select the that line, then select your image and open the extension dialog: Extensions -> Scaling -> RealScale… and follow the instructions.

      If you’ve never used Inkscape, then this may take you a some time to execute… but once you know how to do it, then it’s matter of seconds.

      If you only want to do this once and don’t want the hassle of the above steps, then I would be happy to do it for you… just send me the photo or the plan by sending me a message from the About Me page.

      Araz

  2. downloaded inkscape after watching the video as imagine it would help me alot… downloaded the extension and it refuses to load using my inkscape and i have the most up toi date version there is. i wish to use this programme to plan my builds properly but the lay out is nothing like the video and i can get anything to scale properly because the exstension doesnt work… need help here, this could keep me occupied for a long time. and thats what i want.

    1. Hi John,

      I don’t know how to help in this case!? The only thing I can say is, make sure you followed the installation instruction carefully for the extension…
      “Copy the files realscale.py and realscale.inx into the directory indicated in Edit -> Preferences -> System: User extensions”

      Araz

  3. raz, I want to take a basic Les Paul cutout image and shrink the body length and widths down to a smaller size. So basically if at the widest point on the lower bout it measures 13″: and the overall length was 15″ and I want to reduce it down to say 10.5″ wide by 13″ long, could you do this easily on Inkscape?

    1. Hello Alan,

      Yes this can very easily be done with Inkscape. Simple transformations like the one you described are basic features within Inkscape.
      Click on the image, then drag the handles around the corners to change the dimensions. You can also input the desired dimensions into the dialogue boxes…
      Use the measurment tool (ruler icon) to verify dimensions.

      Good luck with it.

      Araz

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