40

How can I shade a path witout filling? In particular, I wand to draw a curved arrow that starts colored blue and ends colored green, where in between it gradually changes its color. I can't find a way to shade a path without filling it.

The following code does not work, as it shades the filling area, although it compiles.

\documentclass{article}
\usepackage{tikz}
\usetikzlibrary{calc,automata,patterns,decorations,decorations.pathmorphing}
\usetikzlibrary{fadings}
\begin{document}
\begin{tikzpicture}

\draw[path fading=south,very thick,top color=blue!80!white,
      bottom color=green!80!white,->] (0,0) .. controls +(0,-1) and +(0,1) .. (1,-2);

\end{tikzpicture}
\end{document}

Example image

5

4 Answers 4

15

Here's a quick attempt to automate percusse's solution:

curved arrow whose colour is a blue-to-green gradient, from top to bottom

Here's the main file:

\documentclass[tikz,border=5mm]{standalone}
\usepackage{tikz}
\usepackage{fade-no-fill}
\begin{document}

\begin{tikzpicture}
  \draw[style=help lines] (0,-2) grid[step=1cm] (2,0);
  \path[
    fade path but don't fill={
      very thick,
      transparent!20,
      ->
    }{
      top color=blue!80,
      bottom color=green!80,
    },
  ] (0cm,0cm) .. controls +(0cm,-1cm) and +(0cm,1cm) .. (1cm,-2cm);


  \begin{scope}[x=0.5cm,y=0.5cm]
    % Circles, each with a distinct fading
    \foreach \i in {1,...,5}{
      \pgfmathsetmacro{\j}{18*\i}
      \path[
        fade path but don't fill={
          very thick,
          transparent!\j,
        }{
          top color=green!80,
          bottom color=blue!80,
          shading angle=45,
        },
      ] (1+\i,-\i) circle (\i mm);
    }

    % Circles, with a global fading
    \path[
      fade path but don't fill={
        very thick,
        transparent!60,
      }{
        top color=blue!80,
        bottom color=green!80,
      },
    ] foreach \i in {1,...,5}{
      (\i-1,-\i-3) circle (\i mm)
    };
  \end{scope}
\end{tikzpicture}

\end{document}

You will need to paste the following code into fade-no-fill.sty, which uses the spath library from the TeX.SX package. You will therefore need to download spath.dtx, run it with pdflatex spath.dtx and copy the resulting spath.sty in the same folder.

\usetikzlibrary{intersections}% for "name path".
\usetikzlibrary{math}%
\usetikzlibrary{fadings}%
\usepackage{spath}% for "use path", from the TeX.SX package
                  % at http://bazaar.launchpad.net/~tex-sx/tex-sx/development/files
\usepgfmodule{oo}% for spath
\usetikzlibrary{arrows.meta}% needed so that bounding boxes correctly include arrows.
% Copied from https://tex.stackexchange.com/a/26386/5699
\tikzset{
  use path for main/.code={%
    \tikz@addmode{%
      \expandafter\pgfsyssoftpath@setcurrentpath\csname tikz@intersect@path@name@#1\endcsname
    }%
  },
  use path for actions/.code={%
    \expandafter\def\expandafter\tikz@preactions\expandafter{\tikz@preactions\expandafter\let\expandafter\tikz@actions@path\csname tikz@intersect@path@name@#1\endcsname}%
  },
  use path/.style={%
    use path for main=#1,
    use path for actions=#1,
  }
}
\tikzset{
  fade path but don't fill/.style 2 args={
    preaction={save path=\tmppath,},
    postaction={
      /utils/exec={
        \coordinate (oldbb-ne) at (current bounding box.north east);
        \coordinate (oldbb-sw) at (current bounding box.south west);
        \pgfresetboundingbox
        \begin{tikzfadingfrompicture}[name=tempfade]%
          \pgfresetboundingbox
          \pgfoonew \thepathsav=new spath(\tmppath)
          \thepathsav.use path with tikz(draw,#1)
          \coordinate (temp-fade-bb-ne) at (current bounding box.north east);
          \coordinate (temp-fade-bb-sw) at (current bounding box.south west);
          \coordinate (temp-fade-bb-center) at (current bounding box.center);
        \end{tikzfadingfrompicture}
        %
        \useasboundingbox (oldbb-ne) rectangle (oldbb-sw);
        %
        \tikzmath{
          coordinate \ctempfadebbcenter;
          \ctempfadebbcenter = (temp-fade-bb-center);
        }
        \tikzset{tempstyle/.style/.expand once={#2}}
        \path[
          path fading=tempfade,
          fit fading=false,
          fading transform={
            yshift=\ctempfadebbcentery,
            xshift=\ctempfadebbcenterx,
          },
          tempstyle,
        ] (temp-fade-bb-ne) rectangle (temp-fade-bb-sw);
      },
    },
  },
}
1
33

I don't remember why the scaling was happening but please let me know the missing detail or fix it so I can delete this. ( Stolen from How to draw multiple lines inside the circle )

Something along these lines can be a very impractical but a possible way to do it. I can't think of anything clever how to automate it other than the obvious tedious way.

\documentclass[tikz,border=5mm]{standalone}
\usetikzlibrary{fadings}%

\begin{tikzfadingfrompicture}[name=custom fade]%
\path(-0.2cm,0.2cm) rectangle (1.2cm,-2cm); % Arrow line is an overlay!
\pgfinterruptboundingbox
\draw[very thick,transparent!20,->] (0cm,0cm) .. controls +(0cm,-1cm) and +(0cm,1cm) .. (1cm,-2cm);
\endpgfinterruptboundingbox
\end{tikzfadingfrompicture}


\begin{document}

\begin{tikzpicture}
\draw[style=help lines] (0,-2) grid[step=1cm] (2,0);
\draw[path fading=custom fade,
      top color=blue!80,
      bottom color=green!80,
     ] (0,0) rectangle (1cm,-2cm);
\end{tikzpicture}

\end{document}

enter image description here

7

I think that this answer is worth including to this old question. I simply draw the arrow twice fading from different ends.It presumably only works because of newer versions of TikZ.

\documentclass[tikz, border=1 cm]{standalone}
\usetikzlibrary{fadings}
\begin{document}
\begin{tikzpicture}   
\draw [blue!80!white, very thick , ->, path fading=south,
  postaction={draw, green!80!white, path fading=north}]
  (0,0) .. controls +(0,-1) and +(0,1) .. (1,-2);
\end{tikzpicture}
\end{document}

Blue to green fading arrow

9
  • I would even say because of a very recent version of TikZ, as it actually does not work in my TeX Live 2021 installation.
    – Archange
    Sep 18, 2021 at 5:28
  • @Archange: Strange. What goes wrong? Can you run this more than a year old code?: tex.stackexchange.com/q/597927/8650 Sep 18, 2021 at 18:09
  • So on the TeX Live 2019 distribution that comes with Ubuntu 20.10, this does not seem to work - I'm just getting a green arrow.
    – DCTLib
    Sep 18, 2021 at 20:01
  • @DCTLib How long time ago did you update your packages? According to this, your installation is at its very limit of when to expect having problems: tex.stackexchange.com/a/46140/8650 Sep 18, 2021 at 20:49
  • 1
    @hpekristiansen Thanks for pointing at the viewer being the likely culprit. So it does not work with evince/any poppler based viewers I guess (no shading, green arrow). It works in Chromium, but not in Firefox also (only blue arrow with shading). mupdf based viewers seems OK too. I’ll try to open an issue at poppler as soon as I have time to properly investigate this.
    – Archange
    Sep 19, 2021 at 8:19
6

In Metapost, it is possible to get the "envelope" of a path using envelope. One can then fill in the path with a linear shade.

\starttext

\startMPpage[offset=1mm]
  path p, q;

  p := origin{dir -90} .. {dir -90} (2, -2);
  p := p scaled 1cm;

  q := envelope pensquare scaled 3bp of p;
  draw q;

  q := q xshifted 2cm;
  linear_shade(q, 0, blue, red);
\stopMPpage
\stoptext

which gives

enter image description here

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