I'm trying to make a stylized chain (the hardware kind, not a bike chain or jewellery) in Inkscape. Initially I gave it a flat effect, and this was easy to achieve. For the O-shaped links, I used rectangles with the corner radius set to half the width (on the right in the image below), and for the ones you see side-on, just a single stroke with rounded caps, the same length as the rectangle.

But after trying out this design, I've found the chain links need a bit of depth to show their shape. The side-on ones are easy to do with a linear gradient, lighter at the top and darker at the bottom, and you can see below I've done one this way. The O-shaped ones are more of a problem, because a single gradient isn't enough. There needs to be a gradient on the two long edges similar to the one I already have, but there also needs to be a radial gradient going around the bends, so that the top edges of the bend are lighter and the underneath edges are darker. I can't work out how to fit all those requirements together and get a smooth result.

screenshot of what I have so far

How can I achieve this effect in Inkscape? I'm not expecting it to be photorealistic, but I'd prefer a smooth gradient (to match the style of the rest of the image) rather than two-tone or something similar.

  • Just to clarify, I made the request in comment (which received 7 upticks). I edited the question not to request the image, but because this is less about how to make it then how to shade it. By removing Inkscape from the title it increases the number of views you'll receive since less people know Inkscape but nearly everyone knows shading.
    – Ryan
    Jun 18, 2014 at 16:34
  • 1
    +1 this is one of those tasks that seems like it's going to be easy, but has surprisingly many difficulties. To do it well, you'll need shadows from where links cross over too. On Illustrator I'd use a gradient mesh, from googling it looks like this is probably possible in Inkscape too. Alternatively, two-tone shading with solid highlights or shadows might be an option? Jun 18, 2014 at 16:47
  • @Ryan You're the site expect; I included Inkscape because I know it would be a lot easier with Illustrator's gradient meshes. I have an idea of what the gradient ought to look like: the problem is producing that effect in Inkscape, where gradient mesh support is experimental and disabled even in nightlies.
    – Dan Hulme
    Jun 18, 2014 at 17:03
  • Ahh then I apologize, your question wasn't clear by asking "How can I shade my chain links to make them look rounded?" Feel free to edit your question to clearly state which part you're have technical trouble achieving in Inkscape.
    – Ryan
    Jun 18, 2014 at 17:07

1 Answer 1


It is possible to apply a radial filter in "reflective" mode to have a peripheral shade:

  • Radial Fill - Reflective

    enter image description here

But alas we can see that the results are far from acceptable.

Better results can be obtained using a built-in SVG-specific filter effect. All filters have a basic preset but these can be customized using the Filter Editor. See below for some filters which may be suitable for shading chains:

  • ABCs: Specular Light

    enter image description here

  • Bevels: Deep Colors Plastic

    enter image description here

  • Bevels: Combined Lighting

    enter image description here

  • Bevels: Glowing Metal

    enter image description here

  • Bevels: Bright Metal

    enter image description here

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