The Designmark Graphics blog
Quality tutorials for Inkscape and GIMP
Sticky notes on a website are a good example of a design technique called skeumorphism; using visual ideas from one sphere of reference and using it in another. Today we're going to look at one method for illustrating a pad of sticky notes using Inkscape. There are some basic shape-building and editing skills that you'll need for this tutorial, and we'll be ordering and positioning our image elements to try and give a feeling of depth, without complicating things too much.
Here's what we'll be aiming to achieve by the end of the tutorial:
Step 1 - Create the first sticky note
Start with a new Inkscape document and switch on the default grid with the # key. With the Rectangle Tool (R), draw a square which is around 185 pixels in both width and height.
In the Fill and Stroke panel (Ctrl, Shift and F to bring it up), set the fill colour to R = 243, G = 249, B = 93.
In the same box, change the fill from a solid colour to a linear gradient, and click the Edit button to make changes to the gradient fill. Set the second colour to R = 230, G = 195, B = 17 and make sure the Alpha slider is pushed all the way up to 255, which means full opacity.
Switch to the Gradient Tool with Ctrl and F1, then click and drag a line over the rectangle from the upper left to the lower right of the shape, re-directing the gradient to be a diagonal fill on what will be our sticky notepad's top page.
Step 2 - Make notes underneath the top one to add depth
Copy (Ctrl and C) and Paste in Place (Ctrl, Alt and V) to create a copy of our rectangle exactly in line with, and on top of, our original. Revert to the Gradient tool, then click and drag a gradient in the opposite diagonal to before: bottom-right to top-left.
With this duplicate shape still selected, copy it to the clipboard but don't paste yet. Instead, send this first copy to the back of the drawing by pressing End or using Object --> Lower to Bottom, then nudge it to the left and down slightly by pressing the left arrow and the down arrow once each on the keyboard.
Now Paste in Place to create a second copy in the original position, and repeat the above process, this time with two keyboard presses instead of one. In other words, send it to the bottom of the stack, press the left arrow twice, and the down arrow twice. Repeat this process if you wish, increasing the number of key presses by one each time, until you've got a neat stack of copies.
Step 3 - Use the Cut Path tool to splice the top page
Activate the Pen Tool (keyboard button B) and draw a line which runs diagonally across the bottom right of the pad's top page, making sure it extends past both edges. This line will be our cutting tool, so position it where you feel the page curl should start. Press the 'Home' key to make sure this is above all your other shapes on the page.
Keep this line selected and, holding down the Shift key, click on the page underneath it so you've got two objects highlighted with a dashed outline. In the menus, select Path --> Cut path, or press Ctrl, Alt and / to perform the cut operation and slice the shape into two parts.
Now, it looks like something's gone wrong here - both shapes seem to have disappeared, but don't worry, it's just that Inkscape doesn't know what fills to assign to the split shapes yet. Hop back to the Fill and Stroke box and choose a temporary fill colour for these two objects so you can see what I mean.
Click on the larger object (the main part of the page) with the Select Tool (F1) so that only it is selected. Back over on the Fill and Stroke dialog, click on the linear gradient fill option and, from the dropdown box on the right, find the option that is your original gradient. Inkscape may have made some duplicates from all the copying and pasting we've been doing, but more than likely it will be the bottom one in the list.
Switch back to the Gradient Tool and drag out a gradient from top-left to bottom-right on our top sticky note to get our nice gradient fill back.
Select the bottom corner piece of the note, then switch to the Node Tool (F2). Click and drag the bottom-right node up and to the left: back over the cut triangle and in front of the page we cut, to get this effect.
Step 4 - create the curled page corner
Now for the finishing touches. When Inkscape cut that square, it didn't leave us a "segment" between these two nodes; they're essentially just hanging there and the straight edge that's between them is Inkscape's 'best guess' at how it should look. If we don't join them together with a new segment, we won't be able to make any changes to the shape of this part.
So, select those nodes selected, by clicking on one, then holding down the Shift key and clicking the second. Then click on the 'Join selected endnodes with a new segment' button on the node toolbar.
Nothing has visibly changed, but try this next part without doing the above step and you'll soon find it's not possible! Now, with the Node tool again, click somewhere on the segment and drag it downwards and to the right slightly to get a smooth curve outwards and a curled-page effect. Don't overcook it, just a slight curve will suffice.
Repeat this moulding process on the other two sides of the curl to achieve a believable bend on the corner piece. Push these segments inwards slightly until you get this outcome:
Let's get that gradient from the start onto this shape again, then. On the Fill and Stroke panel, choose it from the bottom of the Linear Gradients dropdown box, and use the Gradient Tool once again to drag a fill from the tip of the curl to the larger side so that the darker edge is towards the lower right of the curled edge.
Step 5 - Add a drop shadow to create depth
Finally, Copy and Paste in Place this corner piece. Change the fill to R = 60, G = 60, B = 60, and on the Fill and Stroke panel reduce the opacity slider to about 35%. Move the Blur slider so that it's set to about 12.
Finally, press Page Down or select Object --> Lower from the menus to send this behind the corner piece but above the rest of the drawing. What you get is a neat effect - a shadow produced by our curled edge over both the top sticky note and the rest of the pad.
Of course, after that you could always get your Text Tool out and leave someone a note for a cheeky finishing flourish...
Excellent - that wasn't too difficult in the end, was it? How did you get on with that tutorial? Need to make yourself a note to remind you how to do it? Leave a comment in the section beneath this article if you've enjoyed it.
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