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Kaz219 2009-02-18 05:27 AM

White Shadow
is there a way to create a white shadow around a text?

I'm adding labels to lines, and the labels are difficult to read, when written black on black lines. Since the background is white, using a white font color is not an option. Is there a way to add "outline" a font with a white "halo" or "shadow"?

For now, I'm gonna use an outlined font, but I couldn't find one which looks simple. They're all quite fancy.

The perfect solution would be to outline the text just line the street names in google maps: some sort of white halo around the text, very tight.


Kaz219 2009-02-18 06:32 AM

I found the shadow inspector (thought it was only for shapes), where I can set the color. Unfortunately, it doesn't help. The white shadow is not casted on the line, so the text still look like striked through...

Outlined fonts are really not lisible so I give up and use a white background with 80% of opacity for the text. Still not great, since the bakcground is much too big and sometimes overlap with other objects. Most of all when the text is vertical.

Kaz219 2009-02-18 06:37 AM

Or maybe somebody knows of a font with a white "outlining"?

JKT 2009-02-18 10:03 AM

To have shadows lie over other objects, you need to click the following button in the Shadows inspector pane:


The object (be it text or anything else) will have to be in front of the one below for it to work, such as your line.

JKT 2009-02-18 10:07 AM



Kaz219 2009-02-18 10:33 AM

1 Attachment(s)
Thank you for the answer. The white shadow was so light I thought it wasn't working.

My problem is that the text in the attachment is barely readable. The white shadow (no offset, middle value for blur) is almost unnoticeable.

Any idea how to make it readable? Some way of making the shadow thicker? I don't want to a background, which would overlap with the neighbours.

Brian 2009-02-18 11:18 AM

2 Attachment(s)
Question: Does the text need to be directly on top of the line? If you open the Geometry inspector, you can change the offset so the text isn't sitting directly over the line, which would make it more legible without requiring complicated shadow effects.

The other alternative would be to make sure your text labels have an opaque (rather than transparent) background color.

To do this, select the text in your line label and select
Format -> Fonts -> Show Fonts
depending on what version of the OS you're running, the panel that appears may look a little different from what's shown here:
but the one with the help tag is the control you're looking for.

Double-click it, and the color panel will appear.

You can use the slider at the bottom to make the opacity 100%, which means the line beneath the text will be hidden.

That help at all?

zaxaz 2009-02-18 01:22 PM

I tried to reproduce your issue but perhaps I'm not understanding your issue clearly? I see no issue with visibility of text labels on lines using black lines and black text. Can you be more specific or provide an example?

JKT 2009-02-18 03:10 PM

One way to increase the intensity of the shadow is to copy and paste the object onto itself multiple times, so that each copy overlays the other, then group them to form one object. The shadows are additive so doing this makes them richer without altering the blur levels.

Kaz219 2009-02-19 12:40 AM

Thank you for the replies. I wanted one solution, now I have two =)

The stacking trick works very well, I need to stack around 10 to 20 times the text, and then playing with the blur slider gives me the effect I want. The only drawback is that the text seems fat, but that's a detail.

The geometry inspector does also the job, I prefer it when I have place to put the text next to the line without having the line which the label is referring to becoming ambiguous.

Thank you very much!

priceless 2009-02-19 06:43 AM


I've played around with this too -- the shadow, without offset, isn't strong enough for what you want.

Ideally there would be a "size" slider for the shadow so you could scale it out a bit as well as blur it.

Two ideas from me:

1. Shadows can have colour AND opacity adjusted in the colour panel, just like other fills -- make sure your shadows are at 100%. That will help a bit more.

2. Depending on the font you are using, you could align two copies -- one underneath that is bold, white and has the white shadow and the one on top that isn't bold, and is the colour you want. This, with some kerning, creates a bit more outline. Not a great solution, and my tests this morning worked, but not perfectly.

-- Morgan

Kaz219 2009-02-20 02:54 AM

That's a cool idea too! So I need to use fixed width fonts for that one, right?

Another question about this line labels: is it possible to change the default for adding a label to a line? I want to make it per default "slightly offset, no background, parallel to the line".

I've played with the text tool favorites but no success so far: it seems to only remember the font, size, color and such things.

Joel 2009-02-20 10:48 AM

There's no way to set any positioning default for the line labels created, however it sounds like a pretty good idea, so I've filed a feature request for it in our tracking database.

Kaz219 2009-02-21 02:57 AM


Kaz219 2009-02-26 05:22 AM

wrap up
So, in case somebody is interested in a wrap up, the best solution for me was (here is the case of black text with white shadow):
– creating one text box with the black text
– duplicate it, change the font color to white in the duplicate
– make 20 copies of the duplicate (10 may be enough for you, I use 20)
– superpose everything while making sure the original text box stays in front
– group all and add a white shadow using the shadow inspector.
– Still in the shadow inspector, set the shadow offset to 1pt horizontally (better aligned like this, don't know why) and 0pt vertically
– click on the "shadow immediately beneath this object" button in the shadow inspector
– play with the "shadow fuzziness" slider to get the effect you want (for me, it is around 20-30% fuzziness)

– quite a lot of work for one text field.
– no batch text editing for a group of text boxes.
– no possibility to use the group of text object as a line label: when the line moves the group won't follow, so you'll need to move it manually.

If anybody has some suggestions for the drawbacks, I'd be glad to hear about it...

Kaz219 2009-12-14 02:25 AM

2 Attachment(s)
Is it planned to add this "thick white shadow" in a future version ? (Is there some place where this "feature request" database is viewable, so I could check what the status of a feature request is, btw?)

Instead of linearly decreasing opacity of the shadow, it should be 100% up to a certain (very small) distance around the "0% blur shadow" of the object, and then a very fast gradient to 0% opacity. (see example)

I have no idea how difficult it would be to implement this, but I do think this is a very very usefull feature, as it makes text readable independently of the background color: the current shadow feature doesn't allow to read black text on black background (see example).

Kaz219 2011-12-15 03:18 AM

Bump. Any news here?

Basically, I want the same as what is used in google maps to make the text readable independently of the background. Very useful for line labels for example, it removes the need to have a filling and unhides a big part of the line thus.

xiamenese 2011-12-19 03:17 PM

[QUOTE=Kaz219;55336]Or maybe somebody knows of a font with a white "outlining"?[/QUOTE]

AW Conqueror Carved Two is an outline font, white with a black outline. I haven't played with it at all though you might be able to set the outline to white and the fill to black. The other thing is it's all caps, but that might not be what you want.

Kaz219 2011-12-20 12:23 AM


that’s a good idea, but it doesn’t work. Fonts have only one color as far as I know:

In the case of the Conqueror Carved Two, I can choose the color of the outline, but the inside of the letter will have the same color as the background, which doesn't help me:
– either I put it in white and it’s readable on a non-white background but then it’s not readable on a white background
– or I put it in black, but that doesn’t help when overlapping black lines.

But thanks anyway!

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