How To Create A Christmas Wreath In Inkscape

Producing festive graphics is all part of the holiday season for many designers and artists so in this tutorial we'll show you  how to create a Christmas wreath in Inkscape. The initial steps may seem a little involved, but after a little preliminary work the wreath quickly takes shape.
By following this tutorial you'll learn how to add a shape to a path, select multiple paths and join them with the Union tool, as well as rotate items accurately with the Transform tool, and at the end of all that, you'll have your very own Christmas wreath to decorate. 
If following this tutorial seems a lot of work, you can instead download an EPS file of this Christmas wreath from our Kofi store.

Creating The Christmas Wreath In Inkscape

1/ To make Inkscape a little easier to use for this tutorial there's a few things I prefer to do before starting. Select File > Document Properties (Shift + Ctrl = D) to open the above window. Under the Page tab deselect Show page border.

2/ Now under the Snap tab drag the top slider all the way to the left. This will stop the edges of two items from snapping together. Often this leads to edges overlapping and looking bad.

These two steps aren't essential for this tutorial but they're steps I prefer to employ.

Adding A Shape To A Path

Adding a shape to a path is a  technique that comes in handy for other projects so is useful to know and keep in mind.

3/ Select the circle tool and hold down Ctrl and Shift as you drag out the shape so its perfectly round. The circle should have a fill colour but no stroke.

4/ With the circle selected hit Path > Object to Path (shift + Ctrl + C). Inkscape will now recognise the circle as a vector object rather than a shape.

5/ When selecting the paths edit tool (shaded in blue in the above image) the circle will now display four nodes. Select the one to the left and delete it by hitting the icon highlighted in blue.

Now select each node in turn and hit the icon highlighted in red. This will make each node a corner, although you may need to drag in the handles to get a well defined shape.

If you're not sure what each of the node tools do, whilst you're selecting the 'Make selected nodes corners' tool, hover the cursor over each to bring up a tool tip message. This will explain the name of each node tool and what they do.

6/ The circle we started with should now look something like the image above.

7/ Select the node to the right then hold down Ctrl  and drag it further to the right to form the shape above. This shape will be added to a path in a few steps time.

8/ Using the Bezier tool create a line that looks something like the line in the image above. The angle in the line is created by clicking at that point whilst drawing the line.

If you're unsure which is the Bezier tool, hover your cursor over each of the tools to the left of the Inkscape window and a tool tip will appear with the name of the highlighted tool.

9/ With the Paths editing tool selected click on the central node and then select the 'Make selected nodes symmetric' icon. Drag the handles of the central node to form a gentle curve, similar to the above image.

10/ Now select the elongated triangle shape we created then hit Edit > Copy. Now select Path > Path Effects (Shift + Ctrl + 7).

11/ The Path Effects panel will now be docked to the right of the Inkscape window. Hit the plus sign (highlighted in red).

12/ The above window will now open. Scroll down to the Pattern Along Path option and click Add.

13/ The docked Paths Effects panel will now look like the above image. As you can see the Pattern Along Path option has been added along with a few options.

Remember we copied the triangle shape we created. To add it to our line, make sure the line is selected then hit the clipboard icon (highlighted above in red) to paste it.

14/ The path we created with the bezier tool should now look like the above image. If your path shows just an outline use the Fill tool to create a solid path. You may also need to remove the stroke if the path has one.

The elongated triangle shape can now be deleted.

The width of the path can be changed by either using the option in the Path Effects panel (highlighted in blue in step 13), or by dragging the handle that appears as a small circle to the bottom of the path. Drag the handle gently in very small increments or the path will alter dramatically.

15/ If you need to, use the nodes at the top and in the middle of the path to smooth out the curve and make it less acute.

We have now completed adding the shape to the path, and we can use this to build up our Christmas wreath.

Uniting Multiple Paths To Form One Object

16/ By duplicating the path we have created and using the Unite Paths tool we can build up the appearance of a fir tree sprig to create the wreath with.

To begin with we'll need to rotate the path from its base, so we'll need to change the centre of rotation. Do this by clicking twice on the shape with the Selection tool, so the rotation arrows are visible.

Around the centre of the shape is a small cross hairs (highlighted in red, above). Click on this, and whilst holding down the left mouse button, drag it to the bottom of the shape. The shape will now rotate from this point and make it much easier for use to fan out a few copies.

17/ With the shape selected hit Edit > Duplicate (Ctrl D). Click on the path twice so the rotation arrows are visible, then grab and drag a corner arrow to rotate the path. Duplicate and rotate about five paths until you have something similar to the above.

18/ Drag your cursor over all of the shapes you've created then duplicate them. Before deselecting anything hit the Flip Horizontally button (highlighted in red, above).

19/ Making sure you still have the duplicate set of shapes selected, position them to form the shape above.

20/ Once the shapes are in place deselect them then drag your cursor over all the shapes so everything is selected. Go to Path > Union (Ctrl + +).

21/ Now all of the shapes have been joined to form one path. Thats pretty much the intricate work done and creating the wreath will now become much quicker.

Adding Colour

22/ To complete the appearance of a fir tree sprig we'll colour a number of duplicates of the unified path, starting with a light green for the first one, then use progressively darker  greens for each duplicate path. Altogether there will be four paths, so four different shades of green.

Select the path then hit Object > Fill And Stroke (Shift + Ctrl + F). The Shift and Stroke panel will now be docked to the right of the Inkscape window.

Inkscape provides a number of options for adding colour to a project and it is entirely a matter of personal choice which you use. Here the HSL option was used. Click in the green section of the top band then use the lower sliders to lighten or darken the choice of green.

23/ Once all four shapes have been coloured arrange them close together as above. Drag the cursor to select all four objects then select Object > Group (Ctrl + G) to group them together. Now create a duplicate of the grouped objects so you have something like the image above.

Using The Transform Tool to Rotate Objects

24/ We're now going to rotate the two items and group them together. First select the object to the right then hit Object > Transform (Shift + Ctrl + M).

25/ The Transform panel will now be docked to the right of the Inkscape window. Select the Rotate tab and enter the amount of rotation for the object, (highlighted in red, above) . In the drop down window make sure the degrees symbol is selected.

Here 30 degrees has been added but you may need to add a different angle of rotation depending on your design.

Select the Rotate Clockwise icon (shaded in blue) then hit the Apply button.

26/ Now select the duplicate object to the left of the one we just rotated. We want to rotate this by the same amount but in the opposite direction so without changing any settings hit the Rotate Counter-clockwise icon.

27/ The two objects should look something like this.

28/ Bring the two object together so they look similar to the above then group everything.

29/ Duplicate the grouped object and drag the duplicate below the original. Duplicate again and drag the object below the other two so all three are arranged similar to the above. Group the three objects together.

30/ Create a large circle with just an outline and no fill.

31/ We'll use this circle as a guide for the shape of the wreath, so start by placing the fir tree sprig object so its centre lines up with the circle. Make sure the circle is the top object by hitting Object > Raise To Top (Home).

The circle will be deleted later so its needs to be easy to select.

32/ Duplicate the object and position the copy along the circle as shown above. Only the top of the copy should be visible so if the lower part is above the original object, hit Page Down a few times to lower it.

33/ Continue duplicating the fir tree sprig object, positioning, rotating and hitting Page Down until a circle of objects has been created. The circle can now be selected and deleted.

34/ Drag the cursor over all of the objects to select them then make a duplicate. Now rotate the duplicate to add greater depth and texture to the wreath.

Your Christmas wreath is now complete and ready to decorate however you want. We hope this tutorial has been useful and you'll enjoy making more Christmas decorations with Inkscape. Merry Christmas to all our followers, and a Happy New Year.