Inkscape tip: make arrow head's color match that of its body
July 16th 2007

I have encountered the problem more than once, and it is a bit annoying to say the least. Basically, when you build a path/arrow in Inkscape, it starts as a black curve by default. You can edit it to put a marker in either or both ends (Click on the curve, then Object->Fill and Stroke->Stroke Style), to make an arrow, for example.

Now, the problem is that if you change the color of the body of the arrow, the head will remain black, as documented, for example, in A Guide to Inkscape, by Tavmjong Bah. Not nice, uh? The solution is given in the same site, and consists on using a plugin. To do so, select: Effects->Modify Path->Color Markers to Match Stroke.

If you are a Debian user, you might encounter a problem: a window pops up saying The module requires PyXML. This has been reported as a bug, and also happens for Ubuntu. The solution is to install the python-xml package, which is not always installed by default when you install Inkscape, it is just "suggested". This means that when you install Inkscape (aptitude install inkscape), aptitude will tell you something like "The package python-xml is recommended, but it is not going to be installed", and will go on happily. If (like me) you ignore the suggestion, you will not have the python-xml package installed, and some extensions, like the above, will not work (however this allows the users that do not want to use the plugins to have a lighter instalation, if they so wish).

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18 Responses to “Inkscape tip: make arrow head's color match that of its body”

  1. Anonymous on 20 Aug 2007 at 18:43 pm #

    Can you tell me please, in which version of Inkscape the Effects menu apears ? I tried to follow your advice but i can't find the Effects menu. I'm using Inkscape 0.43 for Windows XP
    Thank you,

  2. IƱaki Silanes on 22 Aug 2007 at 16:32 pm #

    I can not assure what is the earliest version in which I've seen it. The Etch release of Debian (stable) has Inkscape 0.43 too (DistroWatch seems to say that it's 0.44, but my package manager says 0.43), but I am using Lenny (testing), with Inkscape 0.45.

    Inkscape 0.45 certainly does have a "Effects" menu (between "Text" and "Whiteboard"). I'd swear 0.43/0.44 also had it, but memory might be failing...

    I'm so glad to hear of someone using free software tools on Windows. I hope Inkscape is doing fine for you. Let me strongly encourage you to try Linux. I use Debian, and with it keeping the latest version of the programs installed is a breeze.

  3. Anonymous on 28 Aug 2007 at 14:43 pm #

    Thanks for the tip.

    I liked Inkscape very much exactly because it is quite intuitive and simple. But this trick is just horrible.

    Anyway, your tip helped a lot.

  4. JMotard on 14 Dec 2007 at 21:26 pm #

    Thanks , suggestions worked well (change arrow head collor through plug in)

  5. isilanes on 06 May 2008 at 17:48 pm #


    Jamie Bullock Says:
    May 6, 2008 at 2:43 pm

    Thanks for the tip!

    BTW, on Ubuntu 8.04 (hardy) I had to install the python-lxml package rather than python-xml.

  6. PheP on 18 May 2008 at 16:50 pm #

    Thanks for the tip !

    Jamie's right, on Debian, form lenny on, you've got to install the python-lxml package, too.

  7. denitsa on 13 Oct 2008 at 13:54 pm #

    Hey! Thanks for that entry. It was very useful for me since I spent some time trying to figure out how to make an arrow. Now I know.

  8. Matt on 09 Apr 2009 at 22:32 pm #

    Thanks for the tip, selecting "Color Markers ..." also worked when selecting multiple arrows of different colors.

  9. Bastian on 18 Apr 2009 at 0:17 am #

    Just to align myself with all the others: thank you very much!
    You saved me a lot of time.

  10. angelos on 22 Apr 2010 at 16:01 pm #

    Under inkscape 0.47, ubuntu 9.10 karmic: Extensions>Modify path>Colour markers to mark stroke.

  11. andres on 26 Nov 2010 at 0:39 am #

    Thank you! How can I make the arrow a different colour now?

  12. Tricity on 11 Jan 2011 at 6:35 am #

    This seems to be still a bug in version 0.47. The only difference is that the "Effects" menu is now renames "Extensions" as documented in the Inkscape handbook. Angelos pointed this out earlier, but maybe it is worth stressing this again:

    Extensions -> Modify Path -> Color markers to match stroke

    In direct response to andres: Draw your line with arrow head. Color the line to the color you desire - the arrowhead remains black. Now SELECT your line, THEN choose "Extensions" from the menu, then "Modify Path", finally "Color markers to match stroke" - done.

    Kudos to the Inkscape developers for a great software program!

  13. Rodrigo on 29 Dec 2011 at 21:39 pm #

    Hi folks,

    I found a solution and posted in my blog:


  14. Daniel on 02 Jan 2012 at 18:28 pm #

    Thanks Rodrigo, this is exactly the solution that is described above in this blogpost from 2007. It is nice that you provided pictures for those of us unable to read English ;-)

  15. Christian on 11 Jun 2013 at 1:55 am #

    Thanks for this hint!

    Just never try it if you're using a gradient or something for the arrow. Inkscape will crash and burn. Emergency save won't work.

    And Daniel: nice one ;)

  16. Claudia on 09 Dec 2013 at 5:47 am #

    Hey, thanks for this tip. It was really useful. ^^

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  18. Neuquino on 23 Aug 2015 at 17:58 pm #

    I'm using Inkscape 0.91 r13725 and the option it is not there. The menu Effects has been changed to Extensions, but in the Modify Path that option does not appear.

    I'm using Ubuntu 15.10.

    Any idea if there is another way to achieve this?

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