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Here's an image to help (the top is the original image, the bottom is after moving the white object to the front):

enter image description here

What I need is an object that is all of the white in the image. The problem is that the white space is created by stacking blue objects on top of white, so I can't just remove all the blue objects from the .svg file. How can I create objects of the visible white areas?

In the example image, that would mean that instead of white and blue stacked on top of each other, it would be a flat image - blue objects with white objects around them. If you move blue or white, there would be nothing behind it.

  • I know this can be done in illustrator, but clearly you are asking for inscape. However if you have access to AI, then select all your paths, expand them, and use the pathing tool to punch out the white from the blue, then delete the blue or white. Will find a link or going into more depth if AI is available to you. Otherwise, keep waiting for an Inkscaper. – user51113 Nov 20 '15 at 19:44
  • Are there only two layers or are they interchanging? Why do we see blue ellipses at the bottom where the upper image is black when you lift a white shape in the center? – user unknown Nov 21 '15 at 1:55
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  • Select all blue paths;
  • Go to Path > Union; this will join them in one big path;
  • Select both the white path underneath and the blue shape;
  • Go to Path > Difference; this will "cut out" the blue shape out of the white.
  • It might be easier to select everything and use the "Merge" command – First Draft Nov 21 '15 at 16:27
  • Thank you, it worked well. It's a shame though that I have hundreds of blue paths. I wish I could select by color. – Chris Anderson Nov 21 '15 at 23:06
  • Actually you can select all with the same color: Select one blue item, then go to Edit > Select same > Fill color. – Samuel Dellicour Nov 22 '15 at 19:20
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A totally different approach which works also (even if it's a bit odd) is to take a screenshot, import it into a new Inkscape file (File -> Import) and then do Trace Bitmap (it's in the Path menu). This creates a vector object on top of the selected bitmap.

I usually prefer the "vector" approach (as explained in other answers), but sometimes the Bitmap Trace is a kind of "quick and dirty" solution that works well.

More info on Bitmap Tracing in Tavmjong's manual chapter 20.

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