Instructional arrow graphics with gradients

  1. Create the geometries/arrows you will apply the gradient texture to. It often helps to draw more than what you need and then erase the parts you don’t want.
  2. Create an image that is a gradient from a solid color to transparent. Images sized 1024 x 1024 pixels work well.
  3. Import your gradient-textures as Images (Not Textures, Not Matched Photo). Position and explode. The images will project when sampled with the Sample tool. Images with transparencies will be applied to both front and back surfaces by default.
  4. Sample your exploded textures with the eye-dropper tool (with paint bucket tool active, hold command on a mac, or alt on windows) Apply the sampled textures to your arrow shapes. Erase geometries you no longer need, hide the arrow edges, and turn them into components. Position as necessary to help communicate your idea!
    gradient arrows.skp (431.4 KB)

Very nice effect, @chamberz. The only thing I would question is having the arrows cast shadows, as though they were ordinary objects made of some substantial, opaque material. I would more picture them as made of light themselves, or perhaps of thought energy, neither of which casts shadows.

Actually, if I may add, I have always found it a little odd to use the cast shadow feature at all with modeled objects that you would never, or at least not ordinarily, see sitting out in the sun. Small, mechanical objects, like the cold cream jar chamberz has depicted, would most typically be seen sitting on a table or a counter indoors, so you wouldn’t see a harsh cast shadow. I would be inclined to turn off cast shadows and to check the Use sun for shading checkbox to create indoor lighting effects.

No big deal. Just saying.


Good points Gully! Here is addendum steps #5 and #6:

  • Right-click on components/groups you would prefer not cast shadows and open the Entity Info dialog. You may need to expand the secondary selection pane. Deselect Cast Shadows.

  • To disable shadow-casting on the ground, open Shadows dialog from the Window menu item. Deselect On Ground. Optionally check Use sun for shading and turn off shadows for a different display effect.

Awesome tutorial. Thank you!!