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How to Add a Fill to a Traced Image in Inkscape
  • By Nadine Spires
  • 10 Feb 2023
  • 10 Mins
  • Intermediate
  • Inkscape Tutorials

How to Add a Fill to a Traced Image in Inkscape

Discover how easy it is to add a color fill to a traced image in Inkscape in 4 steps

Once you know how to trace in Inkscape, the next step is to add a fill to the vector. Inkscape is a free open-source vector program and a great alternative to creating or tracing vectors. You can convert a JPEG to SVG and use these vector files in other programs like Affinity Photo and Cricut Design Space.

The designs used in this tutorial are these cute Valentine Coloring Cupcake pages from the Plus Hub. If you’re not a member, we have a FREE 30-day Gold Plus Membership trial just for you!

Looking for some color therapy inspiration? We have a fantastic selection of Mandala coloring pages that are just perfect! We also have tons of FREE design resources available on Design Bundles!

Step 1 - Trace the Bitmap in Inkscape

We need to trace the bitmap image to create a vector, and then remove the excess nodes. You could also use the User-assisted trace option but this can slow down the process.

Open your PNG or JPEG in Inkscape and then click on Path > Trace Bitmap. For simple black and white traced images, use the Single Scan option. Alternatively, use the Multicolor feature for color images.

Use the Single Scan option, and then select the Edit paths by nodes tool on the left-side panel. Next, click on the image to see the nodes. Drag a selection box around the areas you want to delete or select individual nodes.

In the image below, we had already deleted the majority of the nodes (images).

Delete excess nodes after trace - Inkscape tutorial

Resize the traced image to fit the page. Unlike raster images, vector designs can be resized without losing details.

Resize vector image in Inkscape

Unfortunately, we can't ungroup everything in this traced image. It doesn't appear to work that way but we do have a workaround that is just as good.

Step 2 - Add a Fill to the Traced Image

The tool, Fill bounded areas, works like a paint bucket tool but needs an additional step. You first need to click AWAY from the design so it’s not selected.

Areas are not always filled to the edge of the design. Zooming in does help but the areas must fill the screen. Any areas "cut off" when adding color will affect the fill as well. If there are still gaps, don't worry, we will share a fix in the next step.

Click on the “paint bucket” tool found on the left-side panel. Choose a color from the color palette at the bottom of the screen. Then, click over an area to add a fill.

We added a pink color fill to the top of the cupcake. Click over additional areas to fill with the same color, for example, the loop in the “L”.

Add fill to traced bitmap image in Inkscape

To fill the rest of the design, click away from the design using Select and transform objects tool, or “move tool”. Click back on the fill tool and select the next color from the palette. Fill the area and repeat this additional step for each new color and area.

Inkscape trace image - add fill to design

To fix the gaps, we need to remove the stroke and then add out Outset.

Fill issues with traced bitmap - Inkscape free how to guide

Step 3 - Remove Stroke Fill on Traced Bitmap

Each color in the design becomes a separate element, while the traced outline remains a single image. Click on the outline to select it.

If you are struggling to do this, click anywhere on the cupcake to select a color. Then Alt + click again to select the layer beneath. This should be the outline.

Sometimes trying to move the layer can be difficult as the program can’t differentiate between the layers. Use your arrow keys to shift it to the right side. You can then click and drag it to the side.

Next, select all of the color areas, go to Object > Fill and Stroke. Under the Fill and Stroke panel, click on the Stroke Paint tab and then click on the “X” to remove the stroke fill.

Remove stroke fill from traced bitmap in Inkscape

With the color elements still selected, right click > Group. To re-align everything, select both the grouped colors and the outline, then go to Objects > Align and Distribute.

The settings will open on the right-hand side. Click both the options Center on vertical axis and Center on horizontal axis.

Inkscape - Align designs horizontally and vertically

Step 4 - Use the Outset Feature in Inkscape

We will now add an Outset to fix the fill issue. It’s actually quite easy and works really well. Select the design and then go to Path > Outset.

Use Offset to fix fill issue with trace bitmap image - Inkscape

We zoomed in to show you the change. The Outset did a really good job at resolving the issue. You can now export the SVG file for Cricut or save the file format for other programs.

Fill issue resolved with Outset - Trace Bitmap fill in Inkscape

Save your design by going to File > Save As. Choose either Inkscape SVG or Plain SVG next to Save as Type. We then tested out the SVG cut file in Cricut Design Space.

Test file in Cricut Design Space - Inkscape JPEG to SVG

That's all there is to adding a fill to a traced bitmap. Create digital art work from your sketches with ease, add color, change up designs, or create color variations. The tracing option in Inkscape is not perfect, but provides a quick alternative to tracing digital designs.

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inkscape tutorial how to add a fill to a traced image in inkscape

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