I would like to create a bevel effect in Inkscape. I am going for a very subtle bevel, that looks something like this one which was created in Photoshop:

bevel example

First I tried the bevel filter in Inkscape, but there is very little control and most of the bevel types are unsophisticated. The closest one I could find to what I'm after was the "combined lighting" bevel filter. However, like all the bevel filters, it has no options to control the depth or width of the bevel, or to control the direction of the light source. The default light source comes from the top left, but I need it to be from almost directly above. This is what it looks like:

inkscape bevel filter

I can build a crude bevel manually by adding 4 shapes around the square I want to bevel, which, in a simple example looks something like this:

crude manual bevel

But this method is crude, as there is no subtle gradients at the corners, and in any case, it would be maddening to apply this method to a complex shape like this one:

enter image description here

So, how can I get a nice subtle bevel effect like the first image in Inkscape that I can save as an SVG?

  • Somethings aren't as easy as a 1 button or 1 menu item selection. Even in Illustrator, to do this right you have to do it by hand.
    – Scott
    Commented Oct 19, 2012 at 8:01
  • 1
    @Scott: Who said anything about asking about a "1 button or 1 menu item selection". This is the second time you've told me that, and frankly, it's a little tedious that you keep making that assumption. Let me be clear for hopefully the last time: I am willing to do whatever it takes, no matter how complicated, I am just looking for guidance on how. What's wrong for looking for guidance? So next time you want to offer this tired and misplaced advice, save it for someone for whom it actually might have relevance.
    – Questioner
    Commented Oct 19, 2012 at 15:26
  • Sorry if my assumption was wrong, but text such as "it would be maddening to apply this method to a complex shape like this one" seems to mean you actually KNOW the answer, but don't want to do the work.
    – Scott
    Commented Oct 19, 2012 at 15:51

3 Answers 3


There is Filters -> Filter Editor. This is a weird GUI, and I can see a benefit to a total redesign, but anyway... The editor shows a diagram with "Gaussian Blur", "Specular" and so on. Click on any one these, which represent steps in the filtering process, to see some controls (maybe).

The "Specular Lighting" and "Diffuse Lighting" steps have an "Azimuth" slider which if set to 270 makes the light come from above (meaning that in the two dimensional sense). (Zero deg is right, angle increases clockwise.) Increasing the Elevation makes the light appear come more from the viewer's position (perpendicular to the plane of your drawing or monitor screen) which diminishes the contrast of bright/dark edges.

I've fiddled with the Gaussian size (labeled as standard deviation) and other parameters. I sorta came close to your ideal example, but couldn't actually get there. It is a pain, but maybe some more fiddling will do the job. Then, how does one save the settings for later use on other shapes, other projects?

Update: I'm getting somewhat good results using Combined Lighting. This has two Gaussian Blur steps - both start with radius 6.0, change both to 2.0. For both Diffuse and Specular steps, change Azimuths of both to 270, and their "Constant" settings to 0.7 (default was 1.0). For Diffuse, "Surface Scale" to 1.0 (it was 4.0) Specular Exponent was reduced to 8 (forgot to note the default). I may have screwed with other settings, but I think I got all the important ones here. Note that if my so-called default values differ from yours, it's from past wayward experimentations.

  • 1
    One other thing that I've noticed is difficult with the Inskcape filters is that when you apply two, they seem to impact each other. I found that when I first applied a drop shadow, then applied a bevel, the drop shadow would disappear. And, as you say, the interface makes it very difficult to determine what exactly is happening.
    – Questioner
    Commented Oct 19, 2012 at 15:31

Extensions > Modify Path > Edge 3D

For those that may still need a nice edge with little work.



If you need simple bevels, just go to Filters -> Bevels. And select the option you like.

The image shows how it looks:

enter image description here

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