My first post here...In Inkscape, I'm trying to do a fill on a couple numbers, the number '86' to be exact. I'm having a problem filling the letter with two different colors. I was reading a previous post from 2021, where I have to cut off the inner object from the outer object (using Path -> Difference) or (object -> lower to bottom), but that's all it seems to do is delete my stroke paths.

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This is what I'm working with...

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This is what it keeps doing, making the entire number white, including the pockets in the middle of the 8 and the 6...

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This is what I'm trying to achieve. For some that have been using Inkscape for quite a long time, I know this is probably child's play, but for me, new at it and trying to figure out how to do basic things, it seems difficult. I thought I could select...say the outer edge of the '8', and then also select the next offset inner line and be able to do a fill command of white color, again for the inner red fill, and again for the inner white fill, but it doesn't seem to work that way...

Anyway, I would appreciate any help

Thank you in advance.


2 Answers 2


The case is not a piece of cake because nobody here knows what you actually have there - maybe combined paths, groups, effects, photographed drawings or anything. You have succesfully hidden all essential data of your object structures.

The case would be a piece of cake if your shapes were simple like this:

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In the left there's my number 8. It contains 4 separate closed curves which do not have any groups nor effects, only plain thin black strokes with no fill. The parts are moved apart in the right only to show they are independent. I left out 2 curves of the inner white area to keep this simple.

In the next screenshot the number is selected and the Shape Builder is just used to mark the 2 areas between the curves which should be separately colorizable objects:

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If I guess right the shape builder is the closest really existing thing you wanted, but still haven't found. To fill areas between the curves there's available also the paint bucket, but its not useful for subpixel accurate work.

In the next image the outer shape has got yellow fill (white is not visible on white background) and the inner shape has got red fill. Just to show them separately the parts are moved apart in the right.

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The black strokes are still there. They can be removed. But it's useful to have a thin red stroke for the inner shape, because Inkscape's rendering would otherwise leave a 1 pixel wide partially transparent gap between the inner and the outer shape. It could be seen if there was something bright or dark behind.

As I said, I left intentionally 2 curves out. But in theory they are not needed. Only click with the shape builder also the holes. Do not fill the generated shapes, but give a wide stroke. Of course, there's less control over the actual form of the colored area.

The shape builder is available in Inkscape version 1.3. It's only a subset of the shape builder implementation in Illustrator, but it's still handy when compared to making path combination operations.

About the paint bucket: It can also used to generate filled areas between curves or otherwise differently colored areas. It works only in screen resolution. Essentially it's bitmap tracing of the rendered image on the screen. It's useful only in cases where the inaccuracy is no problem.


I suspect the problem you are having is because when doing a boolean operation you have to make sure you have two paths only. If you select more than two paths then a Difference boolean operation will fail.

Assuming all your pieces are separate closed paths, here's a method that will work on all versions of Inkscape using the normal boolean operations.

  1. Using Shift+click, select the two inner counters of the eight, and do a Combine operation using Ctrl+K. This will combine both pieces into a single path

  2. Select the outer part of the eight by holding down Shift+click to add it to the selection, and do a Difference operation using Ctrl+-

  3. Select a fill colour

  4. Repeat steps 1-3 for the outer eight pieces

  5. Select both pieces and remove the stroke if required

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Note: you could dispense with the Combine step, but then you would then need to do each Difference boolean separately, as you can only do two paths at a time.

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