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Quick Tip: How to Create Gradient Fills and Strokes in Inkscape


The first time you open Inkscape, it may take a while to finally discover gradients. When you do, they can be rather overwhelming and confusing at first. Check out this quick tip to learn some tricks with Inkscape's gradients, Gradient Editor, and Gradient Tool. While I'm using linear gradients in this tutorial, the same principles apply to radial gradients.

1. Create a Gradient With a Double-Click

This little tip allows you to apply a gradient on the fly. Originally, you'd have to open up Fill and Stroke and set the Fill to a linear or radial gradient to your object.

Step 1

To demonstrate, just draw a square with some sort of color. Then, select the Gradient Tool.

inkscape gradient tool

Step 2

Now with the Gradient Tool selected, just double-click on the object to apply a gradient. Easy enough!

double-click object

2. Create One Gradient With Multiple Objects

When you make a gradient in the Gradient Editor, it stays in that little drop-down menu. You can apply this same gradient to as many objects as you'd like.

inkscape gradient list

So if you go to edit that gradient, those changes will apply to every object with that gradient—even if those objects are not selected. Below, you'll see that I just changed one of the stop colors, which was applied to both of the objects with that gradient.

inkscape gradient editor

While this can be very helpful, sometimes you just don't want the changes to apply to every object with that gradient (perhaps you'd like to make just a very small adjustment to just one object).

The solution is to select the Gradient Tool and click the object that needs adjusting. This brings up nodes for each stop of the gradient, which can then be selected individually and changed using Fill and Stroke. This method does not alter the original gradient; instead, it creates an entirely new gradient with your changes.

select gradient nodes

3. Add More Colors to a Gradient

To add more colors in your gradient, you need to add more stops. Open that Gradient Editor and click Add stop. You'll notice that you now have three stops in the drop-down box. You can as many of these as you want and change the color of each.

add gradient stops

With more than two stops, you now have the Offset option available. The offset simply changes an inner stop's position, as you can see below.

adjust gradient offset

4. Useful Gradient Tool Hotkeys

It's worth noting there are some handy hotkeys for when you're working with gradients. You may find it quicker and easier to use these:

  • Hold Control while dragging nodes to snap the angle.
  • Hold Control + Alt to maintain the original angle while dragging nodes.
  • Hold Control + Shift to move around the center point while dragging nodes.
move around center

5. Create a Repeating Gradient

The Repeat drop-down box is located right under the Edit button when you select a gradient fill. Here's what the options do:

Repeat: none means that when the ends of your gradient are exposed, they'll just keep those end colors and repeat them until the end of time.

gradient repeat none

Repeat: reflected will instead keep reflecting the alternating directions of your gradient when the ends are exposed.

gradient repeat reflected

Repeat: direct will just keep repeating your gradient exactly how it is until it fills the entire area.

gradient repeat direct

6. Create a Gradient on a Stroke in Inkscape

You can apply gradients to strokes just the same as you can to the fill. Once you apply a gradient to the Stroke paint, you might notice that you now have two gradient sliders on your object. This is a great thing, because you can now use these to adjust both the fill and stroke paint gradients independently (shown below).

stroke paint gradient

Awesome! Have Some Gradient Fun!

We've gone over six pretty cool tips on using gradients in Inkscape. Gradients are an amazing feature that should never be passed up, so hopefully this should be enough to get you started in the world of gradients. Thanks for reading!

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