Another great improvement to inkscape that will be available in version 0.46 is the “Engraver’s Toolbox” functionality of the calligraphy tool. Here is an excerpt from the 0.46 release notes about the new functionality:

Several new features were added to the Calligraphic pen to make Inkscape capable of the ancient art of line engraving. Traditional engraving is a very labour-intensive process, and while for a long time it was the only practical way of reproducing lifelike images in black-and-white print, about a century ago it was almost completely displaced by automatic halftone screens. However, line engravings have their characteristic charm, and there’s no reason not to try to resurrect this art form with the help of Inkscape.

The following screencast demonstrates Tracking a path with CTRL and Tracing the background with the stroke width. Another visual example of this can be seen in this screenshot (i recommend checking out the screenshot before the screencast…)

You can also check out the release notes in the inkscape wiki

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