I'm trying to make a tileable background in Inkscape with some simple objects. Example:

original background

But it's hard to see how the starts will look after the image is tiled, so I would like to see 9 copies of the image while being able to edit the image. Cloning works really well for rotating, scaling and recoloring the stars, but when I move the original star, the cloned star does not move:

cloned background

Is there a way to make the position move as well? For example, if I move some original star 5 pixels to the left, all the cloned stars move 5 piles to the left as well, like they do with color, scale, etc?

Also, an easy to way to add a new opbejct to the tile would be appricieted as well, right now I eighter have to delete the clone tiles and recreate them or ame new cloned tiles just for the new object every time I want to add a new object to the image.

3 Answers 3


It is possible with a work around.

Create the star inside a square with no fill and no stroke. Group the square and the star.

Clone the group.

Then you can double click the clone source to enter the group, then select the star, and when you move the star 9 pixels, it will move 9 pixels in the clone. You can even move it outside the invisible square.

For example:

enter image description here

While you are inside the clone group, you can add additional stars.

For example

enter image description here

  • Perfect, I tried grouping but I didn't know about the double click.
    – kajacx
    Nov 5, 2018 at 21:34
  • 1
    @kajacx Also note that double clicking outside the group will exit the group.
    – Billy Kerr
    Nov 5, 2018 at 21:59

Actually, you can have your clones do exactly what you're describing.
The default behavior in Inkscape is for the clones to not move when the original is moved.
But if you go to the Edit > Preferences dialog (or Shift-Ctrl-P), in the Behavior > Clones section, the first item is "Moving Original".
There are three options:
Move in Parallel (which is the one you are wanting)
Stay unmoved (which is the default)
Move according to Transform (which can get really funky if there's a complex transform that's been applied to the clone. For example if you have rotated a clone, that will be in the transform (which can be seen in the XML editor) and the rotation will factor in to how the clone moves when you move the original.
Keep in mind that if you set the clones to move when the original does, that applies to all clones. So if you have clones of your clones, your clones are also "originals" for that next generation of clones, and those clones will move too, by whatever amount and manner is determined in your drawing. The results can be unexpected sometimes.

As far as your question about adding an extra object to your set of clones, it depends on what kind of adding you want to do. It's true that an object can only have one set of tiled clones, but there are easy options for different needs:
If you have tiled a 3x3 array of clones and decide you wanted a 4x3 set, simply change the Tiled Clones dialog to 4 rows, select your original, and then click the Remove button, then the Create button.

  • As long as you have your original object selected, the Tiled Clones dialog can remove them and recreate, along with any changes you make to the settings.
  • When you select the original, the Tiled Clones dialog will tell you how many tiled clones it has (bottom left corner of dialog). This is true no matter what other cloning or manipulations you've done since you tiled it.
  • Remember the original will be under the first tiled clone, so just clicking on it will select the first clone, not the original. Two easy ways to select the original are to Alt-click on the object (which allows you to select objects under an object) or to select it in the Objects dialog.
  • If you've changed settings for tiling some other object in the meantime, you'll need to change back to the settings you want for this tiling. If you are tile-cloning many objects in a drawing, keep track of your settings (on Shift tab, Color tab, etc.).

(Obviously, if you have some Randomizing set in the dialog, it will not repeat the exact placement when you Remove and Create again.)

On the other hand, if you are manually arranging the clones or just want an extra clone that you place where you want, just clone (not tile-clone) your original.
Just select the original and hit Alt-D (or Edit > Clone > Create Clone).

  • You can do this as many times as you want, no limit, even if you have already tile-cloned the object.
  • Or you can clone one of your clones if you want.
  • You can also Tile-clone one of your tiled clones you made. Or clone a tiled clone. Or tile-clone a clone. :-)

There's a template that comes with Inkscape, specially made for pattern creation.

File > New from Template: Seamless pattern. It works similar to the method described by Billy Kerr, just that it's already prepared for use, and comes with instructions.

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