Drop Shadows

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Revision as of 23:05, 3 September 2012 by Gpittman (talk | contribs) (The Power of Properties)
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Scribus as of the writing of this article does not have a built-in drop shadow method. Certainly, one can use Gimp or Inkscape to create some drop shadow-like effects, then import as an image. Here I'd like to show a method which you might consider, created entirely within Scribus.

The Challenge

We are going to use gradients to accomplish this. The difficulty is that, if we wanted to create this for a rectangular object, as most content is, there is no suitable gradient that works in this fashion, where we have horizontal fading at the vertical edge and vertical fading at the horizontal edges.


The Solution

I will warn at the outset that this is hardly a perfect method, but what we will do is to create a square template from triangular elements, and arrange the gradient in each part so that we end up with the edge gradients all going in the correct direction. It's a bit of work, but what you will have at the end is a grouped object you can save in your Scrapbook, then reuse and resize as needed, sort of a make once, use many approach.

Here is what we want to create:

Dropshadow element3.png

which is made from 4 triangles, and since this is a square, these are all right triangles, with hypotenuses the same size. We will only actually draw 2 of them, then copy. We want particular orientations for these, and here is one:

Polygon triangle.png

The other should show a rotation of 60°. Make one of each, and as I illustrate here, size and proportions are arbitrary as you create them:

Dropshadow element.png Dropshadow element1.png

The Power of Properties

What can we say about the right triangles we want to create? They're special because they're right triangles, but even more so because the sides are equal. What that means is that if we stand each one on its hypotenuse, the height is exactly one-half the base. Since I usually work in units of points, I adjusted the triangle to the left above so that height was 250 pts and width was 125 pts. For the other, the width was 250, and the height 125.

Placement is going to be critical, but with Properties it's easy. Pick round numbers for X-Pos and Y-Pos and match the values for the two triangles:

Dropshadow element2.png

And it doesn't get any harder to finish. Select these two frames, then select Item > Multiple Duplicate (not Duplicate), make one copy and leave the positions for horizontal and vertical shift at 0. It looks like nothing has happened, but that's because you have a copy of each right on top of the originals. Hold down Shift and select each type (you only want the top layer). Now flip horizontally, and then flip vertically (doesn't have to be in that order, of course), and you've created your basic shape:

Dropshadow element3.png