I'm trying to create a kind of a smoke trail for a rocket ship in a toon look. Something like in this image:

enter image description here

I thought combining the Inkscape a path effects Power stroke and Pattern Along Path would give me some starting point. I thought to combine two or more of them.

Currently I face the problem that the Power stroke is not "respected". By respected I mean my expectation was that the objects would "grow" along the path because of the Power stroke effect (see image below).

Any hint on how to let object instances grow along a path in Inkscape?

Any hint on how to achieve such an effect in Inkscape?

Inkscape power stroke example

  • @user287001 your answer was useful. I hope you repost it I want to try that approach you posted earlier. May 26, 2022 at 10:50
  • 1
    In your original question the model image link did not work. I guessed the expected look. Later the question was edited to contain a model image which does not at all resemble what I guessed. I removed the answer which was changed to a downvote magnet. This is the wrong guess i.stack.imgur.com/WBGSh.png
    – user82991
    May 26, 2022 at 11:18
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    Is it totally out of the question to simply draw the smoke trail shape by shape? I mean not everything has to be procedurally generated. Of course if you need to draw many trails with different shapes, it would be nice to be able to automate it, but if it's just one single trail, I think it would be faster and look better the old-fashioned way.
    – Wolff
    May 26, 2022 at 13:19
  • @user287001 thanks for the backup. I thought it was not "thaat" wrong at all. I just had some smoke trail in mind which doesn't need to match exactly like the liked image. (at)Wolff of course it can be done the "old-fashioned" way. I had the idea that it would be faster to use some path effects or similar thing to quickly have some results to play with and see what will best match the to the rocket ship. What old-fashioned approach do you have in mind? May 26, 2022 at 15:11
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    Quite honestly, automation is your enemy here. Actually creating it manually is a better option.
    – Scott
    May 26, 2022 at 18:06

1 Answer 1


As suggested in the comments its probably better to create the smoke trail by hand instead of using any procedural generated shapes. @s.ouchene suggested to use the spray tool of Inkscape. I gave it a try and I was happy with the result.

To my future self and hopefully to help others I add the steps how I eventually created that smoke trail for my rocket ship.

  1. To understand the Inkscape spray tool follow for example this tutorial
  2. Prepare a placeholder trail where the smoke should appear (green in the image)
  3. Create a circle with the lighter color of the smoke
  4. Spray "print" the lighter smoke trail first and arrange circles which don't look good
  5. Group all circles
  6. Create a circle with the darker color of the smoke
  7. Repeat step 4 with the new circle but only on the lower part of the smoke trail
  8. Group all darker circles
  9. For both circle groups for the fill color set 5.0% Blur

Inkscape smoke creation

The result with the rocket ship looks like the following image. All improvements critiques welcome (also not smoke related).

Rocket ship with smoke trail

Updated with @Wolff's comment integrated:

Rocket ship with smoke trail version 2

  • I think it's a decent result in comparison to how fast it is to make. Two things annoy me a bit. 1. In the bottom/outer side of the trail, some of the light gray circles are visible. It could perhaps look like a kind of backlight, but I think it's too narrow. So either make it wider or remove it by making the dark gray circles overlap. 2. The shadow is made up of dark gray circles, but it doesn't quite give the right 3D look. Instead it should be crescent shapes where the dark gray meets the light gray. Like the shadow on the planet. This would support the illusion of spheres of smoke.
    – Wolff
    May 29, 2022 at 19:09
  • Other observations (because you asked for it): 1. Smoke in space? Not sure that's a thing. 😀. 2. It would perhaps be nice if the smoke trail could continue behind the planet. I know it's tricky, but it can be done. 3. The space ship looks flat in comparison to the planet and the smoke. 4. I think the stars are a bit too "bold". They could be more thin and pointy. There could be fewer large stars and I think there could be more stars along (and across) the edge of the image.
    – Wolff
    May 29, 2022 at 19:22
  • Not my art, but your not so realistic scene earns a trail which doesn't try to approximate the common one . It should be imaginary as the rest of the scene. An example i.stack.imgur.com/a74aV.png It's a wide elliptical arc made a little turbulent with SVG filter Ink Blot. BTW Generally I cannot predict what the controls of SVG filters cause and this is not an exception. The effect settings were found accidentally when trying to solve a different case.
    – user82991
    May 29, 2022 at 21:13
  • @Wolff thanks, see the updated answer. Regarding smoke in space -> true this isn't real. I just don't think spectators would get that the rocket ship flew this way... Feel free to comment again with other observations. user287001 still trying to recreate the example you provided in Inkscape. I'm struggling with the result the turbulent filter provides me in Inkscape. It's not what I see you could make. May 30, 2022 at 6:03
  • It was not me. It was the programmer of the effect. The controls are too chaotic for preplanned design. I tried to generate unpredictable variations to text. The SVG filter dialog remembers and applies old settings to a new shape. I drew the shown curve, tweaked it to fit into your drawing and applied the effect without changing its settings. The stroke was converted to path before the filter was applied. The piece is only 20 mm wide. The distant end was trimmed with a clipping path and by drawing 2 small pieces to make it dive neatly behind the planet. i.stack.imgur.com/sa2NM.png
    – user82991
    May 30, 2022 at 8:15

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