Last week I talked about drawing gears with Inkscape (for a Fedora 10 theme proposal, but not only), now it's the time for a promised follow-up: let' put some color on the gears.
I want to make the gears golden (or bronze, there is not much difference in the process) to express the value and at the same time match the intended steampunk style. The start is exactly where I left the image, black outlines on a transparent background:
The first step is to define the color, and metallic is not a color, the metallic look of a surface is given by light reflection, so we will use a multistop gradient (a gradient with more than two colors). For gold it should contain a succession of lighter and darker shades of yellow, maybe also a bit of orange, for bronze also yellows with a shade of green (copper oxidation is green), for steel it should contains greys, the chrome is also greys but more reflective (more contrast, from almost black to almost white), silver is less reflective grey and so on.
Here is my gold:
Then take one wheel and apply the gradient to it:
For a 3D look add a drop shadow (duplicate, make it black, move a few pixels down and right, move it under the wheel, add a bit of blur and maybe decrease the opacity):
The gear does not say on air, we'll put on a background, and I used the same golden gradient for the sake of simplicity, you can use a different one, maybe darker:
Add some more gears (all your golden gears). Note the usefulness of the drop shadow, without it it would be hard to set apart the gear from the background, now they are distinct objects:
To make the image more vivid (and because so looks the pocket watch I'm using as a reference, I add some steel gears. Start this by defining the gradient (multistop, greys, with a shade of blue):
And apply the gradient to some wheels:
Here is one trick to get some of the wheels richer, not that plain and boring: add a groove - two smaller circles, aligned to the center of the gear, filled with the same grey gradient, the larger in an opposite direction, the smaller in the same direction as the rest of the wheel:
Put the steel gears in the device (just take care to not couple steel gears with gold gears: steel with steel and gold with gold):
Now for some axles: small circles, made from gold, steel, ruby or sapphire (if you remember my attempt to cheat and put more blue). Do not forget the drop shadow and consider a white highlight:
Place the axles in the center of the gears and we are set:
But I often have a tendency to go overboard and will do now the same: add some screws holding the device. They are easy to do: create a steel circle, substract a rectangle to create the groove, add a darker steel rectangle, the bottom of the groove, rotate the screw to a random angle (we don't want all the screws to have parallel grooves, that would be repeating and boring), fix the gradient and add a drop shadow. Maybe a hole: a larger circle colored with the same gradient as the background but with an opposed orientation. (I increased the zoom level in this step for a clearer illustration)
Distribute the screws evenly (or randomly it you feel like too) and it's done:
Now wait for another follow-up, probably next week, when I will try to color is an old drawing on old paper or blueprint style.