Inkscape is an open-source vector graphics editor similar to Adobe Illustrator, Corel Draw, Freehand, or Xara X. What sets Inkscape apart is its use of Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG), an open XML-based W3C standard, as the native format.
In contrast to raster (bitmap) graphics editors such as Photoshop or Gimp, Inkscape stores its graphics in a vector format. Vector graphics is a resolution-independent description of the actual shapes and objects that you see in the image. A rasterization engine uses this information to determine how to plot each line and curve at any resolution or zoom level.
Contrast that to bitmap (raster) graphics which is always bound to a specific resolution and stores an image as a grid of pixels.
Inkscape can import and display bitmap images, too. An imported bitmap becomes yet another object in your vector graphics, and you can do with it everything you can do to other kinds of objects (move, transform, clip, etc.)
While Inkscape does not have all the features of the leading vector editors, the latest versions provide for a large portion of basic vector graphics editing capabilities. People report successfully using Inkscape in a lot of very different projects (web graphics, technical diagrams, icons, creative art, logos, maps).
- Mesh Gradients are now supported.
- Many SVG2 and CSS3 properties are now supported (e.g. paint-order, mix-blend-mode). Not all are available from the GUI.
- The new Object dialog allows to select, label, hide and lock any object in the drawing from a dialog that lists them all
- Selection sets make it possible to 'group' objects together regardless of document structure
- Guides can now be locked to avoid accidental movement
- Several new path effects have been added, among them Envelope/Perspective, Lattice Deformation, Mirror and Rotate Copies
- There are several new extensions (e.g. a seamless pattern extension) and a new filter (colorblindness simulation) included in the release, many old extensions have been updated or got new features
- Spray tool and measure tool received a set of nifty new features
- Interactive smoothing for lines created with the Pencil tool
- BSplines (and more) are available for the Pen tool
- Checkerboard background can be used to more easily see object transparencies