Thursday, April 26, 2012

Chrome LinearGradientBrush

Wanted to create a way to show a chrome effect, without having several borders or paths layered on top of each other. My coworker (hey there Matt  ( ^_^ )/" ) suggested using brushes only to keep the number of UserControls down to a minimum.

It made sense, and I had to go back to my Adobe Illustrator days (since I am working in Blend right now creating XAML with the Properties panel) and remember that linear gradient fills can be created to look like chrome, using several gradients stops (for XAML it is called a GradientStop for each color and where it falls within the actual brush).

By working with the brushes, and using the gradient tool arrow - I was able to come up with a nice chrome style brush. I'll have to practice to get the chrome to look a bit differently, but this is perfect for what I need it for now.

First: I created a new UserControl to create the brush so I wouldn't accidentally change any of the elements in one of my current controls (which I have done several times before). I just called it LinearBrushCreator, nothing fancy but I know what it is for.

I filled the rectangle with a very basic black and white LinearGradientBrush, which is the default in Blend when you choose to fill the element with a gradient. The image below shows where the brush fill options are in the Properties panel. Select the item, and it will show the different properties that can have a brush applied to it. Since this is a rectangle it has a Fill property (element), if it were a border it would have the Background property for the fill of the shape.

Afterwards, I went to the toolbar and chose the Gradient Tool. When the rectangle is selected and you have the Gradient Tool (The white arrow that is second from the top, or right below the solid black arrow) chosen, there is an arrow that is displayed on the rectangle. This arrow shows the direction of the gradient, and there are points (the little circles) and these represent what color is at that specific GradientStop in the LinearGradientBrush.

Below is the Rectangle with the arrow showing the brushes direction and colors.

The easiest way I found to add and manipulate the colors on the brush is to use the arrow and not the slider on the Properties panel. You can zoom in and out on the arrow's point, instead of trying to move tiny boxes that represent the colors. 

The easiest way to add a GradientStop is to have the Selection Tool (Solid Arrow at the very top of the toolbar) chosen, then click on the arrow. This creates a new point (circle) that you can change the color on by using the Color Selection box in the Properties panel.

After several changes, and adding several points to the arrow, I was able to create a brush fill I was happy with and is consistent with the application's overall theme.

This image shows how many different points I used to create this fill effect.

Below is the finished XAML for this Chrome Brush design.

<LinearGradientBrush x:Key="MyChrome" EndPoint="0.5,1" StartPoint="0.5,0">
        <GradientStop Color="#FF181818" Offset="0.495"/>
        <GradientStop Color="#FFCACACA" Offset="0.46"/>
        <GradientStop Color="#FFF3F3F3" Offset="0.997"/>
        <GradientStop Color="#FFC8C8C8" Offset="0.788"/>
        <GradientStop Color="White" Offset="0.006"/>
        <GradientStop Color="White" Offset="0.966"/>
        <GradientStop Color="#FF242525" Offset="0.531"/>
        <GradientStop Color="#FF1D1D1D"/>
        <GradientStop Color="White" Offset="0.215"/>
        <GradientStop Color="#FF060606" Offset="0.463"/>
        <GradientStop Color="#FFF1F1F1" Offset="0.006"/>
        <GradientStop Color="#FFFBFBFB" Offset="0.401"/>
        <GradientStop Color="#FF96999B" Offset="0.458"/>
        <GradientStop Color="#FFCCCCCC" Offset="0.434"/>
        <GradientStop Color="#FFD0D0D0" Offset="0.002"/>

Now, going to try this again (MUCH later though) for a few different patterns that would work better on different controls.

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