Making the Rings of Saturn

Inkscape Tutorial

Let’s have some fun with a simple and quick tutorial on how the achieve the rings of Saturn in Inkscape. The urge to write the tutorial (and have some fun) wins. I rather treat myself to a quick tutorial than reply to a backlog of emails. Sadly, that will have to happen later. For now, we look at the stars and do a planet in Inkscape. Not just any planet but the most interesting one visually – Saturn.

Note:
The standard beginning of my tutorial seems to be a circle – such a versatile little thing – and then I duplicate and transform it. I am just not sure if I mentioned some quick way to do the duplicate and keep it in place. Duplicate a shape (CTRL-D). Hold CTRL and SHIFT while scaling the object – the scale will keep the proportions and scale based on the pivot point. (Holding just CTRL keeps the proportions and scales based on the lower left corner.)
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Getting started…

Let’s get started with a simple version of a Saturn style planet with a simple one shape ring around it.
2Dgameartguru - rings of Saturn

Let’s start with three circle…

Select the two biggest circles and combine them with a Path/ Exclusion (CTRL+^).

Scale down the ring’s height to get a ‘perspective view’ on the ring.

Duplicate the circle for the planet and convert it to a path.

Bring up the lower node of the duplicate and adjust the nodes on the side (making them corners first) to avoid any overlap with the lower part of the ring while keeping the upper part unchanged.

2dgameartguru - rings of Saturn
2dgameartguru - rings of Saturn

Select the modified shape and then the ring and combine them with a Path/Difference (CTRL+-).

You might have to bring the ring to the front (Page Up) to be on top of the planet.

Add another few circles to the planet and a shadow on the ring and we get our basic Saturn shape planet.

2dgameartguru - rings of Saturn
I added the pattern of the planet (bunch of squashed and slightly differently shaded circles) and the shadow shape (one circle with another circle cutting out the sickle shape via a Path/ Difference) to a mask. I did the same with the shadow of the planet on the ring.
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Adding More Detail

Next up, the same thing with more elaborate rings. Let’s face it,  it’s the same thing. You just take the intial (‘unsquashed’ ring) and make it more complex by combining several rings of increasing sizes into one object.

2Dgameartguru - rings of Saturn

Let’s do this again with a more complex ring and a bunch of circles.

Starting from the outside in select two circles and combine them to a ring until you end up with a bunch progressively smaller rings.

Combine those rings with a Path/Union (CTRL++) bring the planet in position, scale the ring and create the duplicate shape.

Combine the modified planet shape with the ring via the Path/Difference (CTRL+-).

2dgameartguru - rings of Saturn
2dgameartguru - rings of Saturn
I added the pattern of the planet (bunch of squashed and slightly differently shaded circles) and the shadow shape (one circle with another circle cutting out the sickle shape via a Path/ Difference) to a mask. I did the same with the shadow of the planet on the ring.

Ultimately, you can add a more realistic look by adding a circular gradient and more detail patterns to the planet. Breaking the rings apart (Path/Break Apart (SHIFT+CTRL+K)) allows you to assign different colours to different rings and vary the opacity to the rings.  Finally, I added some small objects and their shadows on the rings for a bit of detail.

I hope you enjoyed this as much as I did. Give it a try… As usual, it’s a lot easier than it looks once you worked out how to do it.


Get the source art (svg file) of this tutorial for free!