Home / Blog / Make an Easy Shiny Plastic Button in Inkscape: Use the Free Vector Line Graphic Application to Produce a Graphic

Make an Easy Shiny Plastic Button in Inkscape: Use the Free Vector Line Graphic Application to Produce a Graphic

Inkscape is a free open source vector line graphic application that can be used to produce images that can be resized depending on what they are being used for without any loss of quality. Being released under an open source licence, Inkscape offers an alternative to Adobe Illustrator for Graphic Designers needing to operate on a budget.

You can read more about Inkscape in this overview of Inkscape.

This alternative article on producing a glossy button covers producing a shiny graphic with the free image editor Gimp, but it should be noted that as that produces raster images, the graphics are not suitable for being resized.

Producing a Shiny Button Graphic

After opening a new document in Inkscape, click on the Rectangles and Squares tool in the tools palette and draw a rectangle on the page. This rectangle has three visible handles which can be used to adjust the rectangle.

The small circular handle at the top right corner can be dragged down with the result of making all the corners rounded to change the rectangle into a lozenge type shape.

With the lozenge still selected, go to the Edit menu and select Copy, followed by Paste in Place, which pastes a copy of the lozenge directly in front of the first object.

The next step is to make the front lozenge a little smaller than the one behind. This is done by changing to the Select tool, which is represented by the pointer graphic in the tools palette, and clicking on the front lozenge. Eight double-headed arrows appear around the lozenge and, while holding down the Shift and Ctrl buttons, click on one of the corner arrows and drag it inwards a little.

Holding the Shift button makes the transformation pivot on the centre of the lozenge and holding the Ctrl button makes the object keep the same proportions as it’s being transformed.

Now the Gradient tool can be used to give the effect of a shiny surface to the lozenge. Click on the smaller lozenge and select the Gradient tool from the tools palette. The Gradient tool can now be used to click on the lozenge just inside the top border and keeping the mouse button clicked, drag a vertical line to about halfway down the height of the lozenge.

In the bar above the drawing window, there will be an Edit button and clicking this will open a dialogue box that can be used to tweak the gradient fill. By default, the gradient will open with the last used color being faded to transparent.

For this exercise it is necessary to add a stop to the gradient, by simply clicking the Add stop button. Next the down arrow above the Delete stop button should be clicked and the bottom stop in the drop down list selected. This now needs to be changed from being fully transparent to a solid color and this is done by dragging the slider arrows on the bottom slider, labelled with an ‘A’ (this is the Alpha channel adjustment slider), fully to the right.

Now select the middle stop from the drop down menu and again slide the Alpha channel slider to the right. This now produces a gradient profile with 3 stops all of the same color and opacity. To produce the shiny effect, click on the HSL (Hue, Saturation, Luminosity) tab and then slide the Luminosity slider to the right, which will lighten the color of this stop.

The color of this stop can be adjusted and the position of the ‘highlight’ can be moved by adjusting the Offset slider. The gradient can be further adjusted by clicking and dragging the grab handles that appear at the ends of the gradient line.

That completes the production of a shiny button graphic in Inkscape and this can now either be used in a design wholly produced in Inkscape or can be exported and imported into another application, such as the free open source desktop publisher Scribus.


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