Create a vector compass

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You’ll need to have a vector editing software like Inkscape or Adobe Ilustrator. Since I don’t have Illustrator, I’ll be showing you this tutorial in Inkscape because Inkscape is free!

1) Open up Inkscape and create a new document.

2) Create a small circle. Right click -> Fill and stroke. Make sure that fill color is white, and the stroke color is black. Go to stroke style and set the width to 2.5px.

3) Now select Stars and Polygon tool. At the change toolbar make sure you have the following parameters (Click to expand):
Change toolbar

The spoke ratio is a measure of how spikey the spoke needs to be. 0.160 is an ideal for the compass needle.

3) Create the star, making sure that CTRL is pressed, so that any rotation is based on 15 degree increments.


4) Now that the star has been created, it needs to be aligned with the circle. Select both. Press Shift + CTRL + A for Align and Distribute. Select Relative to -> Page and click on Align to -> Centre on Vertical Axis and click on -> Centre on horizontal axis. Both objects should be aligned with the center of the page now.


5)Now select the star and duplicate it using CTRL + D. Now using now press < to reduce the size. This is for the background set of needles. Reduce it until you are satisfied with the size. Now you need to rotate it while pressing CTRL until the background needles are perpendicular with the main needles. Now press End to send this to the back. You should have something like this:


6) Duplicate the original star and put this duplicate into a new layer, and scale down the duplicate until it looks something like this: step-6.png

7) Now hide the old layer.

8)We will now edit the nodes of the star. So we will need to convert the object to a path. Do this by Shift + CTRL + C.

9) Press F2 to edit path by nodes. Select the 4 bottom end points of the star and click Break Path at Selected nodes.


10) Now select the base vertices of a triangle and click Join selected endpoints with a new segment. Keep doing this until every triangle is complete as follows: You may need to break each triangle apart and rejoin them again later so that its vertices do not interfere while you are selecting new nodes. You should have something like this now:


11) Now select two base vertices and click Insert Nodes between Segments. Repeat this for each triangle. Each base segment is now has a new centre node like this image:


12) Now delete a single base corner node from each triangle until you get something like this:


13) Make the previous layer visible again,move the new layer under the old layer, and this time move and rotate each triangles of the new layer until you end up with this:


14) Create 2 big circles, and adjust the stroke settings of the outer circle like this:


15) Now create another circle, and a small rectangle:


16) Ok. There are actually two different methods to this. Its your choice, go and experiment with both. The effect I am trying to get is a circular array of the rectangle. You can either use the Clone tool or Pattern along Path. The clone tool is demonstrated here (thanks to scribbleed for the link) ->

Here’s what I did :

Select the rectangle and convert it to path. Now bring the rectangle to the top. I’ll show you why in a moment.

17) Now select the circle and the rectangle and go to effects->Generate From Path-> Pattern along path

18) Use the following settings (You may need to change the space between copies according to the size of your circle):


19) As you can see, the top most rectangle is neccessary for the Pattern along Path script to work as desired. You must have ended up with something like this:


From here onwards, you can choose color combinations that you like, and add the NSEW like my compass. You can always look at my compass for inspiration!

Final product

Hope you have enjoyed reading my tutorial! This is my first, and hopefully I have made the instructions very clear. If not, please leave in your comments and I will be happy to assist you. I’ve experimented with Inkscape many times and have created tonnes of artwork. If you have a specific tutorial in mind, please let me know.

New! – Download the SVG from here:

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