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What method can be followed to accomplish a star trail effect in Inkscape?

Star-trail photo, Wikipedia

This is what one sees when looking at night-time photographs with long exposure times, if you point the camera towards Polaris, you might see something like it.

The starting point: some small circles that represent stars, and one of them is chosen as the point around which everything rotates:

Starting point with dots in the sky

Can this be turned into a star-trail using tools available in Inkscape? Or perhaps some low-level SVG manipulations?

2 Answers 2

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I wouldn't start with single stars to be honest. Doing it the way you suggest would likely end up creating literally thousands upon thousands of separate SVG circles, which is not efficient and would likely cause the software to crash or slow down considerably.

However, you could do it with arcs of a circle instead, repeatedly duplicating, scaling and rotating around a common centre. Once you've done a few, group them, change the rotation centre back to the origin, duplicate the group, rescale, rotate, and repeat.

A quick example

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After a few iterations

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And a few more

enter image description here

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This is only a partial answer that will create random trails (as open paths).

You can start by drawing a circular arc covering the angle you want (about 80 degrees in your reference picture). Use snapping and ctrl and shift so that the center of the arc is your center point (I used 2 guides for the center point instead).

Then select twice to get the rotation handles, and drag the rotation center to your reference rotation point.

Now use the "create tiled clones" tool to create lots of random similar arcs: Select the number of rows and columns (you will get rows times columns random trails). Then select -100% as shift X per column and shift Y per row, so that all clones maintain the same center of rotation. Then select 100% as random shift X and random shift Y (this keeps aspect ratio). And 100% as random rotation. Click Create and this will give you a random set of arc trails, all covering the same initial angle (which you can later change in the original path if you wish).

enter image description here

Color randomization won't work on strokes, only fills. So maybe you can turn your original stroke into a closed path with no stroke paint and a color fill.

You can also control blur randomization when doing tiled clones.

Vaguely related, there is a tutorial from Logos by Nick for blending shapes into curves. This technique creates a gazillion copies of the original, but may suit your use case.

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