Inkscape is a fun, free and very powerful vector drawing program that runs on all major computer platforms: Linux, Macintosh and Windows. This program can give you endless hours of enjoyment, even if you're not an artist. And if you develop mastery of using Inkscape, someone wants to pay you money to create graphics for them.
One of the best ways of introducing youth and adults to Inkscape is via the many excellent screencasts that show and explain how to use Inkscape. A very well made screencast about Inkscape was uploaded to YouTube yesterday. This screencast explains how to create stellations using Inkscape. Stellations are pretty polygons created from other polygons. Here is a Wikipedia article that shows some pretty 3D stellations.
One of the things I like about this screencast is the use of text, rather than spoken voice, to explain things. YouTube member TogrutaJedi reminds us that you don't always need to use your voice to explain things well. In fact, text-explained screenasting opens up the realm of screencasting to the thousands of people who who prefer not having their voice recorded.
I can see youth who start making stellations with Inkscape start wondering what else this drawing program can do. Everyone needs a starting point, and I can't think of a better starting point than stellations. Even children as young as kindergarten or first grade might want to jump into creating stellations.
Older youth and adults might also want to check out the very informative Inkscape screencasts made by Richard Querin and HeathenX. Their screencasts are some of the best screencasts on the web. One of my favorites is Photo Popping Fun on YouTube. In this screencast you learn how to create a 3D looking photo from a 2D jpeg photo. In the process, you familiarize yourself with many of Inkscape's tools and techniques. It's useful to note that this screencast has a musical intro that goes on a bit too long -- more than a minute. When creating creating screencasts of your own, keep in mind that people who are viewing your screencast are not showing up for the purpose of the musical intro.
Would you like to practice some photo popping fun on some existing photos? I've assembled a bunch of fun jump photos -- photos of people jumping -- that are Creative Commons -- freely distributable. You can download this archive of photos from the Internet Archive. As you play with Inkscape, teach some of your friends. You may awaken an interest in them, too.
If I've whetted your interest in the kinds of graphics you can create with Inkscape, you might check out this YouTube video, Why I Love Inkscape Drawing Program, where I showcase some of the best Inkscape graphics I've found around the web. At the very end of that video you'll see a gorgeous drawing of an Easter Bunny. That drawing was created using Inkscape and was sent as a thank-you to the Inkscape programmers.
I'm keeping my eye out for other informative Inkscape screencasts and hope to blog about them here in PCWorld.com Community Voices blog. If you've created an Inkscape screencast that explains how to do something, please do send me an email, too. I've always got time to take a look.
One last note regarding Inkscape on Macintosh computers. The current version of Inkscape, 0.46, requires Mac OS 10.4 or higher and it requires that you have a free program named X11 on your Mac. New Macs come with X11 installed. If you own an older Mac, you may need to install X11 yourself from one of the install CD's.
If you're using Mac OS 10.3 (Panther), an older version of Inkscape might run well on your computer. You can find older versions of Inkscape on Sourceforge at this link. Files with the suffix dmg are the ones that run on Macs.
The author is an adjunct professor of education and a technology commentator in the Washington DC-area. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org