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4_7.1 PCB Art with Kicad and Inkscape

Marc Dusseiller edited this page May 27, 2018 · 1 revision

PCB Art with Kicad and Inkscape

PCB Art Design Workflow

What is required (for 1 layer pcb)

  1. Front Copper Layer (F.CU) / Required
  2. Front Solder Mask (F.Mask) / Optional
  3. Front Silkscreen Layer (F.Silk) / Optional
  4. Each (1-3) Exported in 600 DPI White Background
  5. Board Edge Outline Cut (this will be used for cutting the pcb shape) - need DXF Format / Required
  6. Drill Hole layer / Optional (if smd part only)

Simplified Workflow

  1. Design PCB in Inkscape (Copper, Mask, Silkscreen, Outline)
  2. Import Design to Kicad
  3. Define Drill Hole in Kicad
  4. Generate Gerber
  5. Submit to manufacturer eg Oshpark, PCBWay

Complete Workflow


1. Inkscape Workflow


2. Kicad Workflow (todo)

  1. New Project
  2. Create Library
  3. Create Footprint (Copper, Mask, Silkscreen) see "How to Import design from Inkscape to Kicad"
  4. Add Footprint to Library
  5. Create PCB using PCBNew
  6. Add Footprint to PCB
  7. Export Gerber Files

How to Import design from Inkscape to Kicad

  1. Open Bitmap2Component from Kicad

  1. Convert Exported Layer from Inkscape to Kicad Footprint With Format: PCBNew, Options: Negative, Board Layer: Front Silk Screen, Export to your Library .pretty folder

Note: Black = Ignored, White = Copper

  1. Since Bitmap2Component doesnt support exporting to Copper layer we need to Edit converted file with Text Editor of your choice and replace, F.SilkS (front silkscreen from step 2) to F.Cu (front copper) and save

_Note: We can also use this online tool instead of find and replace using text editor _

Gerber Layer / Kicad PCB layer visual explanation

How to automate all this shit

Development log

  • Svg2shenzhen is a fork of svg2mod, but tailored for making pcb art

  • svg2mod used in svg2shenzhen having difficulties processing hole inside path, (now looking other alternative)

  • The issue with automation is bitmap2component does not support command line argument, Fix: stripped down version of bitmap2component

  • Successfully remove bitmap2component dependency on wxwidget and compile it under OSX, Windows, and Linux!

  • Writing Inkscape extension as bitmap2component interface

  • Released alpha version of Svg2shenzhen next

Better workflow:

  1. Design in Inkscape, (Drill, Edge cut, Copper,Silkscreen, Masks)
  2. svg2shenzhen
  3. Open Pcb and preview in Kicad
  4. Generate gerber in kicad, or back to step 1


  1. No need to define library and footprint
  2. Get preview instantly (using fswatch or gulp)
  3. Auto generate soldermask if empty


  1. Need to learn inkscape
  2. in inkscape convert object to path
  3. no bezier support (there are workaround)


  1. GUI
  2. PCB Template Svg
  3. Tutorial
  4. Footprint template Svg
  5. Example PCB
  6. Compiled binary using pyinstaller (osx,windows)
  7. Test Manufacture!!



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