Newbie Inkscape question

So if I have a bunch of Inkscape paths, and I want to erase the parts of one path that are “behind” another path, how do I do that? (I am trying to lightly score a background image without also scoring block text superimposed over it.)


Not knowing your file (next time you might want to post it) it sounds like you should be looking at the Path menu, specifically “difference” and “exclusion” and “union” and “division”. There are a lot of ways to do what you’re asking for, but they all boil down to these types of operations, which are sometimes called “path boolean operations”.

Post up that file and maybe it’ll be a little clearer, but for now this is as specific as I can get, sorry.


Duh, of course I should have posted the file. Sorry about that! It’s not done, but here’s an intermediate stage. (It’s part of trying to make a box with less air in it for a couple of games that are popular in our household.) I would like to score the blue parts, and engrave the green, without the blue “showing through” the green. (I know that I need to change the wide blue lines in the background, but I’ve got that in hand.)


Here’s a trick for posting SVGs…

See the 10x10 after the name below? That’s the actual display size that Discourse will use, based on the size of the file in pixels.


That’s too small! To biggerize it so that it’s easier to see (and click on), manually edit the size by adding a zero to both dimensions:



Scale it without any maths by just adding a comma and final desired scale after the actual dimensions:

![scale_example|10x10, 200%](upload://ukA9EG7ylnlxrv0Ch9WDe9jZurx.svg):

![scale_example|10x10, 400%](upload://ukA9EG7ylnlxrv0Ch9WDe9jZurx.svg):

![scale_example|10x10, 600%](upload://ukA9EG7ylnlxrv0Ch9WDe9jZurx.svg):

![scale_example|10x10, 800%](upload://ukA9EG7ylnlxrv0Ch9WDe9jZurx.svg):

Be careful – the maximum allowed scaling is 999% as shown here:
![scale_example|10x10, 999%](upload://ukA9EG7ylnlxrv0Ch9WDe9jZurx.svg):

Once you get above 1000%, the scale factor is no longer applied:
![scale_example|10x10, 1001%](upload://ukA9EG7ylnlxrv0Ch9WDe9jZurx.svg):
scale_example|10x10, 1001%

EDITED on 4/5/21 to correct typo in example above and explain the maximum scaling limit


Wow! wish I knew that months ago! huge thanks!

I have found that time spent “playing” in Inkscape and trying every command you can learn (and looking here and the Google when you cannot figure it out) will pay back bonuses big time when you intend to do things for real.

I keep all my floaters on a second screen (many issues on keeping them there some not resolved) and one is a list of objects in the drawing (all obscure names you can change but the change does not stick much) when you use the exclude the object higher on the list is the one that goes away replacing the lower ones, if there are several all go away but the last two and that last is the only one having an effect. therefore you need to union the several before you exclude, so only two objects are in the set.

For all the others try everything till you understand what is happening and if you have a second screen bring every floater that you can find up and put it there while working as it will make everything easier And clearer what is happening.

I have done that, actually, but haven’t been able to figure out this thing that I thought should be relatively simple. I was hoping someone here might be able to help.

I’m not sure I understand your second paragraph, but I’ll keep playing and see if I can get it to work. Thanks for trying!

1 Like

Many Inkscape pull-down choices raise sidebar pieces that you can pull off to be a smaller window. you can pop them in or out on the sidebar but they would take up the entire screen if all were out. By popping them out as floating windows and stashing them on the second screen you can watch them change as you work and get a better idea of both what is happening and what you can do that would change it. this has shortened my learning curve considerably and shown me possibilities I would never have imagined doing much less possible.


@elizabeth, I think that can be done from a vector standpoint, but when you have a pattern that intersects the text as many times as that one does, it might be a little bit tricky, or take a really long time to do. (Which is probably why no one has popped in here to explain how yet.)

What I would suggest doing as a work around, is to take a copy of the text, give it white fill, place it over the top of the very busy background pattern, and then rasterize that part of it. (Turn it into a bitmap.)

It means you’re going to be stuck engraving all of the background, instead of scoring it, but you have parts of that set up to engrave anyway, it probably won’t add a lot of time.

If you’re wanting to engrave the text as a solid, you can place a copy of it back over the modified background and it will set you up with a separate option for engraving. But it might look better just to leave the text un-engraved as the white part of the raster. If you wanted to score around it, you could take a copy of the text and give it a stroke but no fill, and line that up over the raster.

Hopefully that makes sense. :slightly_smiling_face:


OK what Jules said. I fooled with this yesterday and it was a bear, because of a few issues with how it is designed.

Before I start, a caveat: there is probably (DEFINITELY) a better way to do this, but this will work.

Step one, fix your svg, it has a couple of issues that will hurt us here:

Ungroup everything. Convert everything to paths (currently a mishmash of ellipses and rectangles and such.

OK so now we have a ton of path objects? Good!

Now, select the upper left corner blue tile. It’s a duplicate, you have 2 stacked on top of each other. I suspect this is from a previous tiled clone action, tiling clones puts a clone directly on top of the original object, irritatingly enough. I always delete that initial clone so this doesn’t happen later.

Now, once you have that dupe taken care of, lets focus on the words:

(The words are an ungrouped bunch of paths, yeah? Should be by now.) Select all your letters, and combine them into one path with control -K (path->combine).

Now you have one large path for the letters.

I am going to tell you the long way because it is simpler to explain:

Select all your blue tiles (be sure your words aren’t selected. I dragged a rectangle around the whole thing, then control-clicked on the red boundary and the words, deselecting them. Once just the blue paths are selected, combine that into a path with control-K . It’ll take a second, this is a big collection.

Now you should have three paths: words, blue tiles, and red boundary. Things are about to get a little slow and ugly (like Jules said), so I like to copy and paste everything into a second instance in the document in case I screw it up, I can then go back to the original without having to use the undo command (which will also be slow and ugly).

Take your new copy, and take a close look. Be sure the letters are on top of the blue tiles. If not, use the raise command (page up or menu, your choice) to be sure the words are on top of the tiles.

Select the words, and hit copy (control-C). Just copy, nothing else.

Now select both the tiles and the words, and select “cut path”. This will be slow, and when it’s done your blue paths will be torn apart into tiny pieces and the words will be gone, but most importantly, it’ll have cut where the boundary of the words is.

Do a “paste in place”, control-alt-v. This will place a new copy of the words right back where they were.

Now, push the pasted words to the back so you can see the blue tiles on top.

Remove the fill from your words, and add a stroke. (This will help visually, and if you’re trying to score like you said, you’ll probably want the boundary)

You should have hollow words, with a bunch of blue tile lines showing through.

Now get super fiddly and click on each element inside the letters, deleting them as you go. It’s tedious and nasty, but it will work.

I know that this is a lot of words with no pictures, but you get what you pay for with free support, and I’ve spent a good bit of time wrestling with it already :slight_smile: Hopefully it made a little sense!


Jules, evansd2, thank you both so much! This helps a lot.

1 Like

You know, it is strangely satisfying to do this. It’s sort of like weeding that way. The only thing that didn’t work exactly as you said was “paste in place,” but I was able to get it pretty close and then use the cut lines to get it exactly into the position I wanted it.

Thanks so much for your help!


You would love creating and adjusting gradient meshes!

1 Like

No problem. I wonder what went wrong with the paste in place? It generally does exactly what you’d think, drops a new copy exactly where the thing you copied was.

Anyway, glad it worked. Sometimes a bit of manual labor is the fastest solution with the most controllable result. :slight_smile: