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Thursday
Feb072008

Visio 2007 Trick: 3-Point Gradient Fills with Transparency

A Question

How many shapes are required to draw the image below in Visio?

image

The Answer

5 shapes.

No groups, no wierd geometries. Just 5 shapes.

What I want

I want rich, smooth, multi-color gradient fills with independent transparencies for each color.

I could get what I want by drawing multiple shapes. That can work. But, sometimes it's irritating. The shapes have to be perfectly aligned, you'll have some selection wierdness, etc. Simpler to have 1 shape.

What is a  3-Point Gradient Fill with Transparency?

Before I show the steps. Let me give you a clearer understanding of what I mean.

First, here is a conceptual drawing the 3-point I really want to draw:

image

Now, without getting into the explanation, the gradient we'll be able to draw will be more like this:

image

So visualize it forming like this:

image

Implementing 3-Point Gradient Fill with Transparency

We are going to use a combination of the normal shape fills and the SHADOW feature to draw a 3-point gradient.

It's not perfect, it doesn't do everything you'd expect in an application like Illustrator, but I'm sure it's more than what you've seen with Visio so far.

Just so that the goal is clear: here is what we will end-up with:

image

  • ORANGE in the upper left
  • LIGHT BLUE in the upper-right
  • DARK BLUE in along the bottom

Steps

  • Launch Visio
  • Create a new document
  • Draw a rectangle

image

  • Select the rectangle, right-click, and choose Format / Fill...

image

  • The Fill dialog will appear

image

  • Set the colors appropriately (pay attention)
  • Set the Fill / Pattern to 36

image

  • Set Fill / Color and FIll / Pattern Color to the color you want for the upper left (ORANGE)

image

  • Don't touch the transparency for now
  • Set the Shadow / Pattern to 28

image

  • Set Shadow / Color to the color you want along the bottom of the shape (DARK BLUE)
  • Set Shadow / Pattern Color to the color you want at the upper right of the shape (LIGHT BLUE)
  • Click OK
  • Here is what you have now

image

  • Turn on the shape sheet via Tools / Options / Advanced / Run in developer mode and click OK to close the Tools / Options dialog

image

  • Select the shape, right click, and select Show ShapeSheet
  • Find the FIllBkgndTrans cell and change the value from 0% to 100%

image

  • You'll notice the change in the shape once you finish making this change

image

  • close the shapesheet window

image

  • A closer look

image

  • Select the shape
  • Form the menu, select Format / Shadow ...

image

  • The Shadow dialog launches

image

  • Under the Size & Position section, click the black dot in the middle of all the arrows

image

  • A close-up of the black dot to click

image

  • Once you click the dot, the Shadow dialog will look like this

image

  • NOTE: when you click on the black dot, the Shadow / Style changed to "13: Offset, custom" (this is expected)
  • Click OK to close the Shadow dialog
  • What we have created is a single shape with a three-point gradient.

image

  • If you edit the fill and shadow transparencies, you can vary the transparencies as needed

That was hard, how can I create another one?

  • Just duplicate the object and edit the colors in the Fill dialog to get what you want.

What about an existing shape? How can I copy the effect?

  • Use the format painter button

image

How do I create the picture are the beginning of the post?

image

  • Duplicate this shape 4 times for a total of five shapes.
  • Resize and stack three on top of each other and modify the colors via the FIll dialog.
  • Make the other two into vertical columns, set the colors and the transparencies
  • Play with the patterns and transparencies. You'll get some nice combinations!

Summary

  • A single shape that avoids selection weirdness and keep the file size manageable
  • An easy way to change the colors
  • Trivial to generate a different gradients, you only need to use the shapesheet the first time: Create this shape once, save it as a file, if you ever want another gradient just reload, duplicate, change colors via the UI as desired.

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Reader Comments (1)

This was very useful and easy to follow. Exactly what I was looking for. Works with Visio 2003 too.

Thanks!

January 2, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterDarren

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