Ade Malsasa Akbar contact
Senior author, Open Source enthusiast.
Friday, July 31, 2015 at 10:00

Inkscape can make letterpress effects by drop shadow and masking manipulations. It is a short basic tutorial so you can develop it yourself then. Prepare yourself, because Inkscape drop shadow eats many computer resources. I will show you how to create it. 


  • Inkscape 0.48
  • FreeSans font
  • Drop shadow
  • Radial and linear gradation

1. Background

First, create a grey rectangle with the dimension 744 x 450. This is the background. We should give it a linear gradation vertically.

2. Foreground Masking

Create a smaller rectangle on top of your background. Fill it red. Write a text with FreeSans bold font on top of red rectangle. Select the text and the red rectangle > menu Path > Difference. Now, we have a red rectangle mask.

3. Drop Shadow

Create drop shadow for the red rectangle. Ge it from menu Filters > Shadow and Glow > Drop Shadow. Give it values Blur Radius = 3.0, Opacity = 10, Horizontal offset = 6.0, Vertical offset = 5.0. You may decide the values yourself.

4. Foreground Radial Gradation

Create radial gradation for the red rectangle. Press G (Gradation) and select radial from gradation tool options on the toolbar.

5. Soft Edge Outline

Create soft edge outline for the foreground. Give it 1 px thickness, white color, and 20% opacity.

6. Finishing

To finish your work, resize your background until it is smaller than your foreground. Read bonus below to make this process quicker on slow computers.

5. Exporting

Select foreground > Ctrl+Shift+E > name it > press Export.

Our final result will be like this. 


  • Use menu View > Display Mode > No Filters so all drop shadows and another effects will be temporarily disabled. It is very effective to improve Inkscape speed when you are using drop shadow. 
  • Use Snap to Page Border so you can easily create the first background above. 
  • Give drop shadow effect more than once until you can get thicker shadow you want.