Filed under: , , by: baabullah

One of the most frequently used technique by graphic designer is mirroring and duplicating. Because mirroring combined with duplicating is the only way to make each side of our work being symmetrical. In this tutorial, I'll try to explain a bit about how combination of both two basic techniques used in certain way when we works in inkscape to make our custom symmetrical shape. Hope this tutorial worth for beginner inkscape user. Enjoy! (Get PDF Version here).

Main Idea

The main idea in this tutorial is to make a half butterfly wing-like shape first, then duplicate and mirror it to make the simple butterfly shape.

And there is a step by step instruction....

Step One

Make a shape just like picture below with bezier tool (b).

Step Two

Pick the shape, then edit the nodes (f2) to make it like picture below.


Step Three

Now, we need to make the right side straight. To accomplish this step, simply drag a guideline from the left document ruler.


Then make a rectangle. Now lets snap the rectangle's left side to the guideline.


After that, punch the butterfly wing shape with this rectangle (ctrl+-). And now the butterfly wing shape will be like this...


Step Four

Half way done. Then duplicate the butterfly wing shape (ctrl+d). After that, drag it to the right. Don't forget to hold the ctrl button to do constrain dragging.


Step Five

Flip the right butterfly wing shape horizontally (h), then snap it to the guideline.


Step Six

Last step, select both and weld them together (ctrl++).


And below another examples using “butterfly technique”...



The butterfly technique (duplicating combined with mirroring) is only way to make a symmetrical shape in each side. If you practice it a lot, you'll improve your skill.

Get PDF version here


On February 19, 2009 at 12:27 PM , ryanlerch said...

where are the images?

On February 20, 2009 at 9:31 AM , baabullah said...

@ ryanlech
I'm sorry for inconvenience. The images already uploaded now. thank

On February 20, 2009 at 1:30 PM , Anonymous said...

I like being able to edit after I've added the mirror effect. This can be achieved if you use clone instead of duplicate, and don't join them together. It also requires being careful about lining up well with the mirror line.

On February 21, 2009 at 8:52 AM , baabullah said...

@ anonymous
hey buddy, you're right. but, at 50 percent. do join or do not joining, it's about choice and your need. do clone or do duplicate it's about choice and need too. Our imaginations it's our limits. :)
thank for visiting, though

On February 21, 2009 at 10:03 AM , antown said...

teknik pencerminan ini saya menyebutnya

On February 21, 2009 at 3:07 PM , baabullah said...

@ antown
thank for visiting.
but there is a basic principle that making mirroring and butterfly technique kinda different. have done read about "make one side straight" in step 3 and 4?

On February 22, 2009 at 1:42 PM , ryanlerch said...

reply to comment 3:

you can use clones to give the abilty to edit after the mirroring...

here is a tutorial:

On March 10, 2009 at 6:45 AM , LH said...

sometimes, is all about the habit. many people prever copy and paste, many people use clone, many people plan everything inside the brain and put it perfectly in the stage without having any trick... just plain simple curves... like an ordinary artist do with their paintings with a simple brush.
When everything is planned inside the brain, we don't even need any editing ability at all... is all about the habit indeed...

On November 21, 2009 at 2:59 PM , BrianMorin said...

I'm sure this is a powerful tool, but I have to figure out the nomenclature of the tools and key strokes, etc. I know this is a simple task, when you know how. Thank you for challenging me today.



On January 19, 2015 at 12:29 PM , wic said...

Helloo ! Thanx for tutorial...But I cannot loose the middle line..could you please tell that part again :)

On July 27, 2015 at 4:14 AM , Anonymous said...

I was going crazy trying to make a butterfly and then I found your tutorial. Thanks so much! It came out great!

On June 27, 2016 at 9:08 AM , MicrostockGuide said...

Useful for beginners! Do you mind if I add a link of this article and recommend further readung? :)