I'm creating a vintage style design for a t-shirt with a weathered texture.

I heard that inkscape can't create print ready EPS files as it converts everything into raster files, then throw them all together into an EPS file (result=low quality).

The workaround is apparently to take your files to scribus. However, in order to do that, you need to delete clipping masks (which is very essential to my design right now) and create them manually instead. However, the type of clipping mask I'll have to recreate manually is a texture (see PNG below)scratch-texture.

When I use this as a clipping mask, save it in the default inkscape format (SVG) and open it outside of inkscape, I get a blank SVG file.

Realizing that the raster image is conflicting with the vector, I tried converting the PNG to a vector (trace bitmap), the result however looks something like this: enter image description here

I also tried converting it to a PDF and then to EPS using ghostscript, however, even as a PDF still, it looks like this: enter image description here

Once again, I get a blank SVG when opening it outside of inkscape.

When exporting it as a PNG however, everything looks perfect: enter image description here

Is there perhaps a workaround to this in the libre software? Or if nothing else another way of adding the texture?


As suggested by one of the answers, I tried using these settings in Trace Bitmap: enter image description here

The resulting vector (after changing the fill colour) was this:

enter image description here

However, this is the end result after setting the mask (i.e. Object > Mask > Set): enter image description here

I noticed that after exporting this as a png that the white areas are transparent, however, when creating an EPS file, they're white again.

  • 2
    I think that you should better define what a "Print ready EPS" is for your specific case. Why EPS (and not PDF or TIFF)? Which "print features" do "you" need? Depending on your exact needs, there might or not be a workaround or even a solution.
    – a.l.e
    Dec 11, 2019 at 9:24
  • Thanks for pointing it out, I edited it. Dec 11, 2019 at 9:43
  • 1
    This question is based on an incorrect assumption. An EPS made in Inkscape which contains vector work that has been masked using a clipping mask results in vectors, and is not rasterized. I checked an EPS made in Inkscape by opening it in both Scribus and Adobe Illustrator. What might be causing your problem is if you have any path effects applied to the artwork or if you are using a raster image inside the clip. Don't use these if you want to output vectors.
    – Billy Kerr
    Dec 11, 2019 at 12:34
  • Don't use a raster image for clipping if you want the result to look as if it were clipped by a vector image. E.g. vectorize your raster image. Features unsupported by the EPS file format are converted to raster, e.g. filters, blend modes, blur, partial transparency. Check if any of those exist in your file.
    – Moini
    Dec 11, 2019 at 12:35
  • @BillyKerr Path effects as in LPE should not be causing issues. Do you mean filters?
    – Moini
    Dec 11, 2019 at 12:36

2 Answers 2


I don't think you need to use a mask for this.

You don't need transparency for print work. Generally in printing, elements which are pure white usually mean no ink is applied in these areas, unless you specifically ask your printer to print it with white ink.

Anyway, here's how you could do it.

  1. Add a green rectangle

  2. Type some black text

  3. Import the bitmap image

  4. Trace the bitmap with these settings

enter image description here

  1. Delete the bitmap, but keep the vector texture

  2. Select the vector texture

  3. Change the fill colour to white

The result will look the same when saved as a PDF, or EPS. Everything will be sharp because its pure vector.

enter image description here

  • I tried that but the result was something that looked like an "inverted mask" in which the rectangle shows through the scratch areas (ie. they're transparent) but the rest is covered in white. Is there maybe another way to apply the texture than using the mask options (eg. grouping them)? Dec 12, 2019 at 8:04
  • Not sure I understand what you mean. I think what I did here looks similar to your example, but with no rasterization problem. Isn't that what you want?
    – Billy Kerr
    Dec 12, 2019 at 8:48
  • Yes it is, but the result produced another kind of problem I'm not familiar with. The scratches that are supposed to be white are transparent and the rest of the mask is white. I posted the results above. Dec 12, 2019 at 9:24
  • 2
    @BrigantiumXIX There's no need to set a mask. That's the whole point of my answer. In printing, white means no ink (i.e. transparent).
    – Billy Kerr
    Dec 12, 2019 at 9:46

This will not be an answer, but it is too long for a comment.

I heard that Inkscape can't create print-ready EPS files as it converts everything into raster files, then throw them all together into an EPS file (result=low quality)

You have some misconceptions here.

Can Inkscape create print-ready files?

Yes and no. The biggest limitation is that it uses RGB color mode because it is intended for graphics for the web, which are RGB. There are some workarounds but that is not the point.

But a lot of digital printers do not use CMYK files so the answer is yes.

Raster images are NOT a cause for low quality

Every photo on the planet is a raster image, and it is perfectly fine to use raster images and throw them all together in an export file.

The texture you got for the weathering IS a raster image. The point is, Is the work at the right resolution for the intended process?

You already have a result on a PNG file that "looks perfect" so use that file at the right resolution. If it is for digital print it is already ready, if it is for screen printing it probably needs to be screened anyway or have an additional process.

In fact, having it in raster can give you a glimpse of what details will not show at the final print.

And about the EPS file... I am not sure why you need that format.

  • The design I'm trying to apply this technique on is for a t-shirt. You mean I actually still don't need an EPS file if the printer is digital? Dec 12, 2019 at 15:28
  • Yeap, That is what I mean. But define the correct size and resolution. You can print a sample to see the end result, that is the advantage of digital after all.
    – Rafael
    Dec 12, 2019 at 15:53

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