Inkscape Filter Effects

Written by zach dexter
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Inkscape Filter Effects
An illustration done with vector graphics (vintage style image by Alexey Klementiev from Fotolia.com)

Vector graphics enable you to create images using lines, shapes, colours and gradients that can be enlarged or shrunken without any degradation in quality. This makes using vector graphics ideal for a task such as designing a logo. Inkscape is an open-source vector graphics editor equipped with filter effects that can be used to quickly alter the appearance of your image. Filter effects require some experimentation to fully understand and appreciate, but some of the basic effects are fairly intuitive.

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Diffuse Lighting

Light reflecting off rough or uneven surfaces is known as "diffuse" lighting. This filter gives your image a sense of texture. The filter's dialogue box allows you to select the colour of the light ("Diffuse Color"), the difference between the peaks and valleys of the object's surface ("Surface Scale"), the strength of the light source ("Constant"), as well as the type of light source ("Light Source"). When this filter effect is applied, the resulting image is opaque.

Specular Lighting

Light reflecting off a smooth surface is known as "specular" lighting. This filter effect gives the impression of a mirror-like surface. The settings for specular lighting are mostly similar to diffuse lighting, except for the "Exponent" parameter. This parameter sets the object's "shine." The higher the value employed, the shinier the object will appear. When this filter effect is applied, the resulting image has varying opacity, becoming fully opaque only in areas where specular highlights fall.

Compositing

Say you have two images, A and B, that overlap. "A over B" specifies that A covers B. "In" mode specifies that only that part of A that covers B should be displayed. "Out" mode specifies that only that part of A that does not cover B should be displayed. "Atop" mode specifies that only B and the part of A that covers B should be displayed. "Xor" mode specifies that only the parts of A and B that do not overlap should be displayed.

Colour Matrix

This is useful for turning a colour image into black-and-white or sepia and for removing a specific colour from an image. The matrix itself is four-by-four columns representing red, green, blue and alpha (opacity) input values. Each row represents a specified amount by which each input colour value is multiplied to get the output value. For example, if the first value is "0.35," that tells the filter to multiply the "red" value of each pixel in the image by 0.35.

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