Making patterned letters or shapes using Inkscape

There has been some interest lately in making patterned letters.  These would look great cut in vinyl for wall art.  They could also be used like an illuminated letter for cards or scrapbook pages if a connected pattern was used.  I used a letter for my example, but this would work just as well for shapes.

  1. Make your background pattern.  I used a dingbat called Flower Ornaments for the pattern and repeated it four times.
  2. Make your letter (or shape)
  3. Convert the pattern and letter to Path
  4. If you are using Inkscape 0.47  make sure that all letters/dingbat characters are ungrouped (Object/Ungroup) before continuing.
  5. If you used more than one dingbat for the pattern, use Path/Union on the pattern pieces
  6. Place the letter where you want it cut from the pattern (I have my letter with a stroke and no fill so that I can see the pattern)
  7. If you want an outline, duplicate the letter (control D when the original letter is selected)
  8. Select the pattern and one letter
  9. Path/Intersection.
  10. Select the remaining letter
  11. Set the stroke to a width that you like
  12. Path/Stroke to path
  13. Select the patterned letter and the outlined letter
  14. Path/Union

12 Responses to Making patterned letters or shapes using Inkscape

  1. melaina says:

    Ive tried several fonts and I tried uploading them to Design Space but when they are imported as svgs they come in looking a whole lot thicker than they looked in Inkscape .. they also look hollowed out and not solid … if that makes sense. Please help and tell me what I’m doing wrong? thanks

    • HeatherM says:

      Hi Melaina,
      I’m not familiar with Design Space, but I would look at your work in Inkscape in Outline View to see the cutting lines. You may have a stroke on your work, and many programs don’t cut the stroke, just the vector portion.

      • melaina says:

        Design Space is used with the Cricut cutting machines … how would i go about viewing it in outline view in inkscape?

        How would i then remove the stroke if there is one on my work? Is there a way to put the outline and the pattern i inserted in SVG vector format?

        I did find out that if i converted it to print mode in design space it changed it back to the way it looked in inkscape … but i want it to cut the letters not print them. that is my ultimate goal id like to cut out the letters in chevron pattern that has an outline on the border of the letters

      • melaina says:

        ok i figured out the “outline view” and it looks right to me … for some reason when i import into DS it makes the pattern on the inside a lot thicker .. but looks normal in inkscape .. Im basically trying to just get the outline of the letters now and once in DS i can weld them to a pattern i was just trying to do those steps before importing into DS
        Thanks for your help and this tutorial is very useful but ill just have to do an extra step but it’ll be fine

        thanks again

  2. melaina says:

    Im running into an issue when I try to combine or attach the outlined letter to the patterned letter it fills the letter in solid … Am I missing a step .. I double checked and Im pretty sure i followed each step. Is there a video for this tutorial? Maybe if I see it in motion I can figure out what I’m doing wrong? thanks 🙂 melaina

    • HeatherM says:

      Hi Melaina,
      If I had to guess, I would guess that you haven’t converted the stroke of the outlined letter to Path. Newer version of Inkscape automatically put text into a group when you convert to Path. Either use Path/Union instead of Path/Object to Path, or ungroup the letter after using Object to Path.

  3. Kim says:

    That is so nice of you. Thank you very much. Your new Aussie friend, Kim.

  4. Kitt says:

    A friend of mine and I have been getting together and working through some of these tutorials. We were doing this one tonight. We would be doing the same thing and when we got through Step 7 and did Step 8-Path/Intersection, my friend’s computed completed the task correctly, but on my computer the patterned design that was outside the letter outline did not disappear. We tried switching computers to see if it was ‘operator error’ and it did the same. We tried trouble shooting, but nothing worked. The only thing we could see that was different is that her Inkscape version was .46 and mine was .47. Would there be an extra step or something to help version .47 make the intersection. Thanks so much! Kitt

    • imagesbyheatherm says:

      Hi Kitt,
      The most likely cause is that Ink47 automatically puts text/dingbats into a Group when you use Path/Object to Path. You need to Ungroup before you can use any of the Path operations. I have added a step in the tutorial for Ink47 users to Ungroup before doing the Path operations. Another option is to use Path/Union since that converts to Path without using Group. It does permanently weld everything selected that overlaps however.

  5. Carolyn says:

    A wonderful idea and like Laura said nice and easy to understand. I will direct people to this post as well.

  6. soraya says:

    Great tutorial!! Very easy to follow and great pictures.



  7. Laura says:


    This is a great tutorial to help others know some of the great ways to use Inkscape!

    I’m going to add you as a link to my blog because I love your work and you’ve been great on the SCAL forum, too! Your a fave!

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