How to make your own caution tape

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This article is part of the HOWTOs series.
Installation Usage PDF issues Imposition Other
Caution tape example.png
This article uses these graphical conventions
Tutorial template icon window.pngWindow 〉〉 Tab/Panel in Window


This tutorial shows how you can create your own "police/caution" tape.

Specific techniques used in this tutorial

  • Creating a diagonal gradient
  • Creating a pattern
  • Creating a shape from another shape
  • Using a pattern fill
Because of the way Scribus works with gradients and patterns this technique may not be good enough for high-quality/resolution work. Check the results by zooming in before printing.


  • Open Scribus and create a new blank document. (A4/Letter of any orientation will be fine.)

You'll need two basic colours for this tutorial:

  • Yellow
  • Black

Make sure you've got them in your list of colours.

The Gradient

  • First draw a square. (48pt by 48pt works well, but why not experiment later?)
  • Go to Tutorial template icon window.pngProperties 〉〉 Colors and click the "Line" icon.
  • Select "None" from the list of colours to remove the outline.
  • Now click the "Fill" icon.
  • Select "Diagonal Gradient" from the drop-down below the "Fill" icon.

At the moment you've just got two "colour stops" (triangles), one at each end of the colour bar. The red one at the left is currently active and the other is blue. You need to add some more.

  • Click anywhere just under the colour bar to create a new colour stop. (The cursor will include an addition sign.)
  • Drag the stop to the 25% position. The position is shown in the text field below the colour bar.
  • With the stop selected (coloured red) select "Black" from the list of colours.

You've created your first custom stop but you can't stop there (no pun intended).

Figure 1
  • Click to the right of the last stop and drag the new one back to the 26% position.
  • Select "Yellow" from the list of colours.
  • Repeat the above two steps - except for colour/position changes - for: 50%+Yellow, 51%+Black, 75%+Black, 76%+Yellow.
  • Select the right-most stop (at 100%) and choose "Yellow" from the colour list.
Figure 2

You should now have something like figure 1 in your "Fill", and your square should look like figure 2.

The Tape

  • Draw a rectangle. It doesn't matter how large but, for the purposes of this tutorial, make it a little smaller than the top half of an A4 page.
  • Go to Tutorial template icon window.pngProperties 〉〉 Line and set the Line Width to 20pt.
  • Choose menu ItemPath ToolsCreate Path from Stroke

You've now made a rectangular frame which you'll fill with your gradient.

The Fill

  • Select the filled square, not the rectangle.
  • Choose menu ItemSend to Patterns
  • Enter a name for your new pattern, e.g. "caution".

You've now created a new pattern that can be used to fill any shape in your document.

Patterns are kept with the document. They're not "global" to all of your Scribus documents unless you save them. See this page Pattern for more info.
  • Select the rectangular frame.
  • Go to Tutorial template icon window.pngProperties 〉〉 Colors and click the "Fill" icon.
  • Choose "Pattern" from the drop-down list. (This option doesn't appear unless you have at least one pattern.)
  • Select the "caution" pattern that you recently created.

You're almost there.

  • Still within Tutorial template icon window.pngProperties 〉〉 Colors change the X and Y Scaling factors to both be 50%.


And that's it.

If you don't want the black outline round the tape then just go to Tutorial template icon window.pngProperties 〉〉 Colors and set the Line Colour to "None", as you would to remove any other outline.

Try experimenting with the scale and angle of the fill until you get it looking just right for what you want. Try different colours too. For example, figure 3 uses a blue & white version of the pattern.

And you don't have to just use the fill on a rectangular frame either. You can use the pattern fill on anything that will accept a normal fill. Figure 4 shows text filled with the pattern after converting the text to outlines and combining.

Or - if you're feeling creative - how about combining the pattern fill, angled over to one side, with other shapes to make your own cute little bee, as in figure 5?

Or you could just create a thin rectangle for a single strip of tape. How you use it is up to you.

For the example at the top of this page the image from here was put behind the tape.

I hope you enjoy experimenting with these techniques.