i'm new to vector graphics and inkscape, working on a project to help my kids think about geography.

i downloaded a generic blank world map with country outlines in .svg from wikipedia. i want to create overlays for each country we study that have layers for topography, satellite image, population density, etc. inkscape opens the .svg fine, and using "document properties" i see it has about the size i intended to work with -- each continent fits roughly on 8.5"x11".

then i used ctrl-v to paste a topographic map for a certain country that i copied from a png into a new layer. it appears at full resolution fine. i used low opacity to scale it down and move it to sit in the correct location. however, scaling down the raster loses a ton of detail/quality. if i understand svg correctly, i should be able to scale down raster images without losing quality -- i should always be able to zoom down to the original pixels, no matter how small they get. i need the original quality preserved, and hope to only lose quality when finally rendering on a particular printer/screen/etc.

is there any way to do this?

i'm on osx 10.13.6 and installed inkscape 0.92.2 2405546 using macports (x11, not xquartz).

  • I can't replicate the problem in Inkscape 0.92.3 on Windows. Perhaps it's a Mac specific bug or something. Scaling down a raster image works fine, without any degradation in quality.
    – Billy Kerr
    Oct 9, 2018 at 8:16

2 Answers 2


I was able to scale down without losing quality by importing the raster rather than pasting it in. I've posted a new question to ask why they are different.

  • i am the OP and posted this myself -- but this stackexchange requires i wait 24 hours to accept it. it does answer the question -- "use import instead of copy/paste" -- the results are different (but i don't know why). Oct 9, 2018 at 15:44

Raster images lose their quality when resized. The fact that you're using them to create fills in an SVG file doesn't change this.

Use Inkscape to create the fills or convert the PNG to vector. You can use Illustrator or Vector Magic to convert the PNG. Even Inkscape can do it but the quality of the result may not be satisfactory.


  • 1
    Scaling a raster image in Inkscape is only scaling the image size, not resampling the image. So the image should not lose quality.
    – Billy Kerr
    Oct 9, 2018 at 8:18

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