This tutorial is also available for Affinity Designer.
Vector Orientation – understanding a frequent problem
A very common question on social media groups for vector art are problems with difference and union. All of a sudden the substract won’t work. You want to cut a shape out of your design and it’s just not showing as cut out. A lot of the time this is due to vector orientation. Even though the vector shapes show both elements as one object but in the same fill colour. Most likely the issue is a different orientation of those two objects.
This is not a unique problem to Inkscape. The same problem shows in Affinity Designer, Adobe Illustrator or CorelDraw (just to mention the tools I am frequently using).
What’s vector orientation anyway? Vector shapes are a sequence of nodes – those little circles and squares when you switch to the node tool. These nodes define the position in relation to it’s neighbors and the angle the two are connected by. No angle means a straight line. The sequence (clockwise or counter-clockwise) of these nodes is the orientation.
Sadly Inkscape does show the orientation of the nodes only when you know where to find it. Inkscape’s Preferences (Ctrl+Shift+P) you can check “Show path direction on outlines” in the Tools -> Node section [ Thanks for pointing it out to me, Markus Conchita Kasalla ]. By ticking the option and turning on the ‘show path outline’ in the top row of icons, Inkscape will add red ‘half arrow’ pointing the direction the nodes are oriented.
It also helps adding a stroke to your design when you have difference/ union issues. At least it shows you the shapes without having to switch the display mode.