Today I will be talking about using Layers in Inkscape. For tatting diagrams, we won't be doing anything too complex with layers (assuming you are working with two dimensional tatting). I imagine that layering would get very complex if you want to diagram a three dimensional pattern. I do not have experience in this area, but I have provided a very basic example of diagramming layered rings at the bottom of this post.
I like to use layers for two reasons:
1) To keep my numbers and diagram separate, so that I don't inadvertently pick up my diagram when trying to move numbers, and
2) To place a photo of my finished tatting on the bottom layer, so that I have something to draw on top of
Everything you need can be found on the Layers menu at the top of the screen:
Of particular importance:
1) Add Layer: Use this any time you want to add a new layer to your project
2) Lock/Unlock Current Layer: Also available on the toolbar and layers side menu. Locking a layer will prevent parts of your diagram from moving when you are not working on them.
3) Move Selection to...: Use this any time you want to move items from one layer to another. Select the item that you want to move before clicking on this menu function.
4) Raise Layer/Lower Layer/Layer to Top/Layer to Bottom: Topmost layers will overlap items on bottom layers. Use this part of the menu to re-organize your layers as necessary.
5) Layers...: Use this to open up a side menu for layers.
Note that almost all of these functions can be accessed by opening up the layers side menu. Go to Layer-->Layers... on the main menu to open the side menu:
The eyeball icon toggles between making the layer visible and invisible (I never use this). The lock icon toggles between locking and unlocking your layer (I use this all the time). Hover your mouse over the other icons to see what they do.
Separating Numbers and Diagram
Before I knew about layers, I had some very frustrating experiences with trying to move numbers around, only to pick up pieces of my diagram instead. You can avoid this frustration by placing your numbers on a separate layer from your diagram. You will also need to lock your diagram in place to prevent it from moving.
First, draw your diagram. When you are finished, click on the lock icon at the bottom of the screen to lock this layer into place:
Now, on the main menu, go to Layer-->Add Layer
Title this whatever you want. I've called mine "Numbers"
I'm keeping the position "Above current" because I'd rather have my numbers overlap my diagram than the other way around. On my "Numbers" layer, I can add numbers and move them around freely, without worrying about picking up the diagram below:
I can use the icons at the bottom of the screen to lock and unlock layers, as well as switching between them:
Drawing on top of a Photo
I first encountered this idea at InTatters. I believe it was Jane Eborall who mentioned that she drew on top of photos to make diagramming easier.
To draw on top of a photo, you first need to have a photo or scan of your finished tatting saved to your computer. Try to use a photo that is from a bird's eye view, as flat as possible.
To open up this photo in Inkscape, go to File-->Import on the main menu:
Find your file on the computer and click "Open". You will then get a pop up window with the following boxes checked. Press "OK" to continue:
Your photo will probably be huge, so you will need to resize it. To resize, hold the CTRL button on your keyboard as you move the rectangular box inward to make the image smaller. (Click here to read more about resizing)
Your photo should be on a layer of its own, placed below all other layers. You will probably want to change the opacity so that your photo is slightly transparent. This will enable you to see more clearly as you draw your diagram, instead of having the photo obstruct your view.
Opacity can be changed on the Layers side menu, or on the Fill and Stroke menu under "Stroke Style". (Tip: Use the Layers side menu if you want to change the opacity of everything on that layer. Use the Fill and Stroke menu if you only want to change the opacity of a few items on the layer).
Below is a screenshot of opacity on the Layers side menu. I've turned mine down to 75%.
When you are finished importing your photo and turning down the opacity, remember to lock this layer into place. This will prevent you from moving the photo as you are drawing your diagram.
Now, add a new layer on top of the photo layer. This will be you diagram layer.
Begin drawing your diagram as usual. Here are a couple of screenshots of in process drawing (I use Guides to keep everything straight):
After you are finished drawing your diagram, you can unlock the photo layer and delete the photo. You can also remove the photo layer entirely if you'd like.
Basic Layered Patterns
I haven't designed any layered tatting patterns, but I know there are quite a few out there. To diagram such a pattern involves creativity. You might combine various methods from this tutorial series, along with methods of your own to achieve the desired result.
Here is a very basic example involving layered rings. I won't provide too much detail, but hopefully it's enough to act as a jumping off point for your own explorations.
On the top layer, I have created a simple six ring flower. On the bottom layer, I have created a larger six ring flower, which has been rotated by 30 degrees.
Each ring in the bottom layer has been cut into two pieces, using the method from a previous post (Click Here). This enabled me to use dashed lines with 75% opacity on the inner segments, and solid lines with 100% opacity on the outer segments. (Opacity was set on the Fill and Stroke menu).
When I place the top layer on the bottom layer, I get this:
I actually worked these two layers on top of each other as seen directly above. (They were only separated after everything was finished, to show you what each component looks like). I used the Lock Layer function to prevent the bottom layer from moving as I worked on the top layer, and vice versa.
The finished diagram is meant to represent a six ring flower with another six rings layered on top. Since I've never actually tatted layered rings, I don't have a photo to go along with it. Yet, I hope it will provide ideas for those of you attempting to diagram such patterns.