Drawing Realistic Lighting in Inkscape

In this tutorial, we’re going to use a blend of colors, blurs, and clever shapes to create a realistic lighting scene in Inkscape.

The Final Result

realistic lighting inkscape

1. Create a Background

Step 1

I have a 600px by 600px document, so let’s create a totally black square at that size for our background color.

draw black square

Step 2

Next, let’s create a gray rectangle and apply a 2px Blur via Fill and Stroke.

add gray table

2. Drawing a Light Source

Step 1

For a complex looking light source, we’re going to need multiple shades to blend. First, draw a perfect circle with the Ellipse tool at about 185px by 185px. Then give it a nice orange color and apply a 40px Blur.

orange highlight

Step 2

Next, draw another perfect circle at about 125px by 125px, give it a yellow color, and apply a 20px Blur. Position it over the orange circle also (use Object > Align and Distribute to be precise).

yellow highlight

Step 3

Now we need the white hot center. Let’s do another circle at 105px by 105px, white, and a 20px Blur.

white spot light

Step 4

Finally, let’s add some flare. Grab your Polygon tool and draw a star with 12 Corners and a 0.110 Spoke ratio. Also, instead of just white, let’s do a radial gradient with white in the center, but then fades out to a complete transparency on the outside.

add flare

3. Draw a Reflective Droplet

Step 1

Now that we have a light source, we should add a subject to receive this light – such as a water droplet. Go ahead and draw an ellipse like I have below.

draw an ellipse

Step 2

Now edit those nodes into a droplet shape, such as below.

shape into droplet

Step 3

We need to add a radial gradient to this droplet, but the colors will be a bit tricky. You’ll want colors similar to the light source since this is a reflection, so I’ll just list what I ended up using below.

  1. R: 255 G: 255 B: 255 A: 255
  2. R: 255 G: 201 B: 52 A: 178
  3. R: 255 G: 154 B: 0 A: 84
  4. R: 0 G: 0 B: 0 A: 0
  5. R: 0 G: 0 B: 0 A: 255

reflective gradient

Step 4

To create a glare for our droplet, duplicate the droplet and stretch one out as I have it below.

create a glare

Step 5

Now just place them on top one another like I have them below, select them both, and head up to Path > Difference.

path difference

Step 6

You’ll end up with a perfect sliver to use as a glare. Apply the same radial gradient we used for the droplet and position it like I have it below.

apply gradient

Step 7

Finally, apply a 10px Blur to blend it in some more. You should have something like this so far.

blur the glare

4. Draw a Reflective Shadow

Step 1

Now we need to add a shadow to our droplet. To do this, let’s duplicate the droplet again and flip it vertically.

duplicate droplet

Step 2

Then just put them in position, select them, and Path > Difference to get our shadow object.

path difference

Step 3

Position the shadow object under the droplet (again, you can use Align and Distribute).

shadow object

Step 4

Finally, apply that same radial gradient we’ve been using, position it like I have it below, and you should have a neat looking shadow for the droplet.

apply radial gradient

Step 5

For a final touch, I added a really small white stroke on the droplet to highlight it some more. With everything else in place, you should have ended up with a cool scene with pretty accurate, realistic lighting!

realistic lighting inkscape

That’s The End!

We learned a lot about blending certain colors and using some pretty advanced gradients to create some realistic lighting. Our end result turned out pretty good! Hopefully some of these techniques will “shed some light” on your designs. Thanks for reading!

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