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I'd like to stack multiple objects (e.g., circles touching one another in a vertical tower, or rectangles and circles alternating in a tower) but can't work out how to do it. Conceptually, the problem seems to be the same as distributing objects with zero space between them but so far I have only been able to do that by:

  • precisely calculating the total notional height of the stack from the component objects
  • placing the highest and lowest objects accurately
  • distributing all the objects within the space defined by the outer objects.
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  • There should be problems only if snapping cannot be used straight in the fly. Such cases: no snap available to stroke edges or no node in the exact wanted snapping point or too many unwanted snapping possibilities which cannot be turned OFF. These need workarounds. Inkscape have got some changes, which affect those workarounds, so all old tricks are not perfect today. Mar 19 at 11:38
  • Hi. Can you show an example of what you are trying to do, or what went wrong? Take a screenshot, and share it here. The default snapping options should allow you to do this. see example. You may have to tweak the snapping options or reset them in the advanced snapping mode.
    – Billy Kerr
    Mar 19 at 18:50

2 Answers 2

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Quite by accident, I discovered the answer.

  1. Create the objects
  2. Using the Align tab (Ctrl-Shift-A) align the objects vertically in the way that you want them to stack (e.g., with the vertical centres aligned)
  3. Move the objects so that they are in the order that you want from top to bottom. More specifically, allow the objects to overlap, but ensure that they are nonetheless in a discernable order.
  4. In the section marked Remove overlaps in the Align tab, set the vertical and horizontal values to zero. Click the button to the right of the H and V values. Note, this moves the objects apart to achieve a particular result, so if they are already separated, the objects will not be moved closer together!

You might have to iterate the process if the objects either did not overlap sufficiently, or overlapped in an order that was unwanted. However, I have found that it typically takes only a single attempt, and only very very rarely requires more than two attempts.

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Placing a rectangle and a circle so that they touch in single point and are aligned is easy if you have snaps ON. Not all snaps are needed, these snaps are enough:

enter image description here

Actually Inkscape assumes that the circle has a node at 18 o'clock and snaps it to the midpont of the top edge of the rectangle.

Strokes cause snapping problems if you want to snap at the edge of a stroke like in the next image:

enter image description here

The snapping happens easily as shown in the left. One possibility to get the snapping to happen like it's in the right is to duplicate the shapes and apply to the duplicates Path > Stroke to Path. Strokes become closed filled areas. You can move the original and the duplicate together and they snap like shown in the right.

Delete the duplicates if you do not like them hanging around.

In old Inkscape versions it was easy to change the bounding box to contain the stroke, too. Then it was possible to use snap to bounding boxes. In recent Inkscape it's not handy, but leaving the stroke automatically out of the bounding box reduces other error possibilities so much that at least I like the current practice.

In the next image there's 2 shapes. They are in their original places in the left. Let's assume one wants make them touch each other just in one point and that point is the highest one for the blue shape and the lowest one for the orange shape. It's done in the right:

enter image description here

They are moved to abutt, but they do not snap right. Eyeballing is OK for art, but many of us do not like it. High zoom in reveals there's actually a gap:

enter image description here

If there's snap to path ON they will touch easily, but they may overlap or at least the touch point is not the highest and lowest.

Making the contact perfect so that it snaps at the wanted point needs inserting a node to the wanted contact point. Let's do it to the orange shape. Start by dragging a horizontal guide from the ruler to a little lower than the wanted contact point:

enter image description here

Turn ON all node snaps and snap to guide lines. Move the ruler to snap to the lowest point of the shape:

enter image description here

The reference point of the guide moves automatically to the wanted contact point.

Now it would be tempting to select the shape and to try to double click the guide reference point with the node tool to make a new node to the right place. It's useless, the place of the node will be wrong. It might be good enough, but it's not as accurate as possible.

Draw a line with the pen starting from the guide reference point. The direction of the line is not important:

enter image description here

Send the line to back, select the orange shape and double click at the starting point of the line with the node tool. The tool snaps and the new node is in the right place:

enter image description here

Use the same guide and line to insert a node to the top point of the blue shape. After doing it the shapes snap perfectly:

enter image description here

If there's too many possibilities to snap when you move an item and you cannot turn OFF the harmful snap options, because you also need some of them to make a node to snap do this:

  • select the object you are going to move, do not select anything else
  • select all nodes of the selected item by dragging over with the node tool
  • move with the node tool just that node you wish to snap, the others follow.

Another possibility is to shut down temporarily (=close the eye) harmfully snapping other objects in the objects panel.

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