I am trying to make a reflection on the outer rim of letters, as if they were embossed in the paper they're printed on, or written with paint/glossy ink.

Such as this: enter image description here Credit Alex Trochut


enter image description here

Goal: (answer to @LukeD's comment): The goal is to give a volume effect to a design (previously made in Illustrator for example, or based on glyphs from a font) to "flesh it out" with its reflections.

I usually start from a .svg, which gives problematic topology when converted to mesh... So beveling doesn't work, neither does subsurf.

Also, beveling isn't what I want, because the whole surface of the paint is round, not just the edges.

Maybe there's a way to fill a .svg path with a metaball-type mesh? Or a way to "inflate" it? (I think in 3ds Max there is a thing called "push" that is similar, but I couldn't find an equivalent for blender). Ideally, one way to do it would be to be able to "inset" the upper faces; shrink or extrude it towards the offset "middle" of the shape as illustrator does:

enter image description here

Here's a .blend to experiment with:

Here is what I have tried so far:

Subdivision, then displacement modifier from the black and white flattened image (edgy reflection):

enter image description here

Subdivision, then displacement modifier then Corrective Smooth modifier (not too bad, but over 1M faces for just 1 letter):

enter image description here

Using a svg curve (inner) instead of outside path then extruding/depth (ok result, but I am trying to get this result from a svg path of the outside of the letter):

enter image description here

Using an offset path made in Illustrator and connecting the inside and the outside curves into one mesh, then subsurf (only possible for simple shapes):

enter image description here

Fluid simulation with extruded edge of the svg path as collision object and a plane beneath as second collision object (ok result, the best so far depending on resolution):

enter image description here

Things I haven't yet tried (still experimenting): shrinkwrap, cast modifier (would that work, if a shape other than sphere or cuboid was applied?), applying different effects to outside edges.

  • $\begingroup$ I think the only way to do it properly is remeshing it manually. $\endgroup$
    – mugnozzo
    Feb 1 '17 at 14:13
  • $\begingroup$ Do you need this for one time project or you want to reuse it often? Do you need it to be part of bigger 3D scene, or you just want to replicate it for still image? $\endgroup$
    – cgslav
    Feb 7 '17 at 11:30
  • $\begingroup$ @LukeD I answered by editing the original question ;) Ideally I need to be able to do this often, as variations on a logo $\endgroup$ Feb 7 '17 at 20:11
  • $\begingroup$ @MicroMachine but is Blender essential in this situation? From what I've read here you have Adobe apps and this kind of effects is pretty simple to replicate in PS. I've managed to make it in Blender by manual retopo of the curve. Effect is great but need some work. $\endgroup$
    – cgslav
    Feb 8 '17 at 13:34
  • $\begingroup$ To raise the centre of a mesh text I have used the compositor to modify an image of the text, to achieve that gradient peak in the middle. Here I used it to make an ink bleed effect blender.stackexchange.com/questions/62843/… $\endgroup$
    – 3pointedit
    Feb 8 '17 at 13:36

Is this the result you were looking for? It is made from your blend file and the lighting, etc. was just sort of thrown together to give you an idea, but if this is what you want then I can edit this answer to show you how I got there.

ink writing



This whole process began with the blend file you provided in your question...

After opening the blend file, I chose to work with the letter/symbol on the right-hand side (The one which is a curve in edit mode, not a mesh).

In the curve settings, I changed Extrude to 0 and Bevel to 0.

Curve Settings

I then gave it a Solidify modifier of Thickness 0.008 with an Offset of 0.

Solidify Modifier

I then added a Remesh modifier with an Octree Depth of 5 and Smooth Shading checked.

Remesh Modifier

This was followed by a Smooth modifier set to Repeat 20.

Smooth Modifier

And lastly a Subsurface modifier set to 2.

Subsurf Modifier


It is entirely up to you as to how you want your background to appear, but as I wanted it to be white, I placed a white plane behind the symbol because if I made the world color white then it would affect the final render. You don't have to use a white plane, it is more efficient to just use the compositor, but I was didn't bother taking the time. However, my process gives a slight shadow around the symbol so it would have been better to just use the compositor. Like I said, the background is entirely up to you.


Next comes the material setup, which I thought would be simple to just mix a diffuse with a glossy shader... but I was wrong! The glossy shader didn't work quite as sharply and as smoothly as I desired, so I transferred to a Toon shader. Below is my node setup for the material... feel free to play around with different settings as you wish. The diffuse color will change the overall color of the symbol, but be aware, tweaking some of the settings in the Toon shader can destroy the color from the diffuse, so be careful. I found lower values produced the most desirable outcomes.

Material Setup

Don't bother editing any values until you have added the lighting, as you will not be able to see any glossy reflections until the lights are in place.


Finally, the lighting! This is probably the hardest part. I found that using 2 planes with Emission materials of strength 25 gives fairly good results in most cases, but in all respects the placement and size of these lights determines where your glossy sections will be. Careful time and patience must be taken on this step as you may not get the desired result first try, but here is the locations of the 2 planes and camera which I used for the render above.


Lighting 1


Lighting 2


Lighting 3


Now that everything is set up... Render it! :D

After following the steps above (and having a little fun by duplicating the symbol and turning it blue), I came up with the final render:


Hope this helps you with your project! Good luck!

  • $\begingroup$ Nice! That's very close indeed! How did you do? $\endgroup$ Feb 8 '17 at 6:02
  • $\begingroup$ @MicroMachine I have edited the answer... Hope it helps! $\endgroup$
    – christai
    Feb 8 '17 at 10:17
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I'm not sure how to make the edges smooth like in the reference image... I think blender just handles curves a bit funky when solidifying because if you go ahead and subdivide it straight away it turns super jagged and ugly... So you have my solution instead, a gel-like structure still editable as a curve. $\endgroup$
    – christai
    Feb 8 '17 at 10:23
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ You're welcome! Glad I could help! :D $\endgroup$
    – christai
    Feb 16 '17 at 3:33
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Nah all good, I don't care too much for my rep, I'm just happy to help out whoever I can $\endgroup$
    – christai
    Feb 17 '17 at 7:52

Here's another approach you could try:

  1. Make sure your text object is extruded slightly, then convert it to a mesh by pressing AltC.

  2. The mesh object will be a total mess. Use a Remesh modifier to subdivide it a bit more uniformly. You need quite a high level of subdivision here; in the image below, the middle object was subdivided with an octree depth of 6, but 7 would have been better.

  3. Apply the Remesh modifier, enter edit mode and convert the object into a 2D shape by deleting one side of the object. Adjust the normals if you need to.

  4. Now the slightly tedious part — you have to select all the vertices around the outside edges of the object. With vertex or edge select enabled, you can pick up multiple vertices by Alt clicking on the outer edges. Takes a while though...

enter image description here

  1. Save these vertices as a vertex group. Exit edit mode and add a Cloth modifier to the object. Then go to the Physics tab, select "Pinning", and select your vertex group in the space below.

  2. Change the Structural stiffness to something much smaller (e.g., 0.1).

  3. Finally go to the Scene tab, make sure gravity is active, and change the direction so that it works in the direction you want the text to bulge out. Press the Play button in the timeline, and hopefully you'll see something like this:

enter image description here

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I think the "pixelated" edges could be avoided here if you inset <kbd>I</kbd> the outer edge a bit. The same thing would happen closer to the center but the curvature there is smaller so maybe it won't be so visible. $\endgroup$
    – qwazix
    Feb 12 '17 at 21:12

enter image description here

Here is an attempt using the experimental displacement feature.

  • Uses a heightmap for the elevation (generated in photoshop using the inner glow overlay mode). In this one i used it to control roughness too (through color ramp to revert the glow).

  • Diffuse map (for the cyan color)

Its probably not the cleanest solution but its incredibly fast to generate/setup. Lighting is not perfect and could easily match the example better.

enter image description here



  • $\begingroup$ This is a good start, BK, thanks! What is the "PBR Uber" node? I can't find it, did you make it? Eventually, do you think something similar to the inner glow could be done to a svg path? Ideally I would like to keep the vector side of the svg path rather than rasterize $\endgroup$ Feb 1 '17 at 22:18
  • $\begingroup$ You could apply the inner glow with Illustrator and rasterize it as last step, but always depends on your final application. This workflow uses texture only. The PBR Uber is the result of Andrew Price's (blenderguru) tutorial and few other additions. $\endgroup$
    – BK.
    Feb 2 '17 at 1:31

It is not exactly the same effect as the example form Alex Trochut, but here is a very quick approach to make an emboss effect on any plane surface (mesh, text or svg), without any change in the geometry.

It uses Cycles.

enter image description here

The setup is the following :

  • Set a diffuse shader on your initial object/surface
  • Duplicate it and set a transparent shader on this duplicated object. This transparent shader will have to be not totally transparent (a little gray or any color)
  • Array the duplicate so that you obtain 2, 3 or more layers, slightly separated (as visible on the lower right corner of the image above)
  • Put these transparent duplicates in front of the original (the one with diffuse)
  • Add a sun light : this sun will give the orientation of the emboss effect

At this step, you can obtain something like what can be seen on the bottom center of the image above.

Now, eventually, use the compositor to obtain more contrasts or other (compositor on the lower left and compositor result on top of the image).

Playing a bit more, you can try :

  • Several colors for the transparency (no array here, but individual objects each with a different transparent material color)
  • Change the transparency by glass materials and change IOR to tune the result
  • In these last cases, eventually change the light paths presets in the rendering panel in order to avoid noisy effects
  • Several sun lights
  • $\begingroup$ That's a good suggestion, but your answer results in an object that is mostly flat on top with rounded corners, while the question asks for a round top $\endgroup$ May 5 '17 at 19:53


The above is the result of the following steps:

I first started by converting the text to path and then simplifying the path in inkscape before importing to blender. Especially your font needs that a lot: it has unneeded sharp nodes and too many nodes in the curvy places.

The simplify command in inkscape was too aggressive so I needed to use path effects with the following settings

simplify settings

It also helps to union the path at this point to avoid artifacts later.

Inside blender, I used the curve bevel to create the bulging effect and then set the offset to counteract the growth of the letters (see image above for values) until just before starting to get artifacts

This creates a nice edge bevel but still leaves us with a a flat portion in the middle. This can be fixed with a nice bump map.

Back to inkscape, I had to Path > Inset (I'm sure there is a similar thing in AI) and then blur the result.

In the above image I converted to mesh and then UV unwrapped the text but this is unnecessary. Just replicate the above node tree on the curve but connect the Generated output of the Texture Coordinate node to the Vector input of the Image Texture.

This process produces the second "This is a test" instance. Honestly though, if you don't really need blender for any other 3D element on your final scene, and you're just trying to do the effect above you are probably better off with a 2D tool. This is for example the result of three Inkscape filters.

svg approach

  • Metallized Ridge
  • Relief Print, and
  • Glowing Bubble

With some tweaking using the filter editor they should do what you want.


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