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Inkscape Tutorial - Raised Lettering Effect

Date/Time Permalink: 01/26/09 01:18:29 pm
Category: Graphics Tutorials

A while back I saw a search come in for "Inkscape bump-map". While a bump-map filter as such does not exist in Inkscape, there is a way to get shapes to have a raised 3D appearance. We'll use lettering for this example.

Start with a large canvas - I'm using 800x800 here. I have Inkscape's name written here in the canvas font at 144 point-size, and I increased the size some more after that. We'll see why size is a factor later.

Set the font to the darkest shade of the color you're going to use. With the shape still selected, Ctrl-D to duplicate it. Now set the color on this duplicate to just a shade lighter. Next, we're going to create a "path inset" - to do this, hit "Ctrl-(" - hold down the control, shift, and 9 keys to get the left parenthesis. You only need one inset step at a time, so only hit it once. Then, use the arrow keys left and up to nudge the lighter, inset shape slightly to the upper-left corner of the darker bottom shape.

screenshot 1

Now we just keep repeating these four steps:

  • Duplicate the shape.
  • Set the color lighter.
  • Inset the path.
  • Move it up and left.

For about five or so iterations. Our last step is to repeat this one more time, but go a couple more shades lighter and inset the path two or three times, to give a highlight effect. When you move this layer, hold the Alt key down to get it to move in smaller steps.

screenshot 2

You'll notice by now that most of the shape disappears when you inset it. This is why you start with a shape much larger than what you'll need, because it would be very difficult to make the inset take this many steps at a lower resolution.

This next step's optional if you want a shadow. Select the darkest, bottom layer and Ctrl-D to duplicate, then move it up out of the way of your text. If it isn't a path already, hit Ctrl-shift-C to turn it into a path. With this path selected, pick "effects - generate from path - blur edge".

screenshot 3

You should set this dialog to about a blur width of 5.0 and steps of 5. Hit OK, give it a minute, and it will finish with the shadow on top of the path. Select the shadow (it is automatically grouped from a stack of lighter layers, similar to how we did our highlight), hit the 'End' key to move it to the bottom layer (so it will be behind the letters) and move it down. Move it slightly to the right and a little lower so the shadow agrees with the letter's highlighting. You can also delete the other path copy.

Drag a selection box around the whole thing and hit Ctrl-G to group it all together, then shrink it down (either the left-angle bracket key "<" or the 'transform' dialog's 'scale' tab). You're done!

When you export a scaled model to a flat image file, you get this:

finished raised lettering

This technique gives the bump-mapped and shadowed effect you would use to give a 3D appearance to a shape in a raster editor, but with a much crisper, more defined look. For making the layers blend a little better, you can also set the transparency lighter for the fill colors of the top layers.

Ta-ta, for now...

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