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Design

Create a Baseball-Inspired Text Effect in Adobe Illustrator

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Difficulty:IntermediateLength:MediumLanguages:
Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

For all of you sports fans out there, this tutorial will teach you how to create a baseball-inspired text effect. You'll start by preparing the text, then with the help of the Bas Relief effect and the Inner Glow effect you'll easily add some dimension to it. Next, you'll create a vector texture and a Pattern Brush with which you'll add the characteristic baseball stitches. Next on the to-do list is the worn out and dirty look, for which you will use a built-in Art Brush. You'll finish with the grass background and the additional tufts of grass around the letters. Let’s jump in! 

1. Start a New Project 

Launch Adobe Illustrator, and go to File > New to open a blank document. Type a name for your file and set up the dimensions, then select Pixels as Units and RGB as Color Mode. Next, go to Edit > Preferences > General and set the Keyboard Increment to 1 px and while there, go to Units & Display Performance to make sure that the Units are as in the following image. I usually work with these settings, and they will help you throughout the drawing process. 

New document

2. Prepare the Text

Step 1

Grab the Type Tool (T) and type “SPORT” on your artboard using Cooper Black, Regular, size of 120 pt. Set the tracking to 50, then select Expand from the Object menu and Ungroup (Shift-Control-G)

Type SPORT

Step 2

Select all letters and add a 4.5 pt Stroke using the color of your choice. Now, select Expand from the Object menu and Ungroup (Shift-Control-G) in order to turn the strokes into fills. 

Focus on the letter “S”. At this point the letter should be composed of the black shape and the green shape (the border filled with the color of your choice). Select both shapes and press Add in the Pathfinder panel to unite them into a single shape. Repeat the same thing for the other four letters. 

Add stroke to text

Step 3

Select the letter “O” and go to Object > Compound Path > Release, then delete the smaller ellipse from the center.  

Release compound path

Step 4

Fill the letter “O” with the radial gradient shown, and use the beige color indicated for the rest.

Color the text

Step 5 

Next, select all letters and go to Effect > Stylize > Inner Glow, apply the settings shown and hit OK. I will refer to these letters from now on as: “original S”, “original P”, “original O”, “original R”, and “original T”.

Apply Inner Glow effect to text

3. Add Dimension to the Text

Step 1 

Select all the original letters, then Copy and Paste in Back (Control-B). Remove all existing appearances by pressing the Clear Appearance icon at the bottom of the Appearance panel. Now, fill these copies with black, and then go to Effect > Sketch > Bas Relief, apply the settings from below, and hit OK. At this point you can’t really see the result, but go to the next step.  

Apply Bas Relief effect to text

Step 2

If you make the original letters invisible (by pressing the eye icon next to each letter in the Appearance panel), you will be able to see the copies of the letters with the Bas Relief effect applied to them. For a subtler look, reduce the Opacity to 65% for each letter. 

Apply Bas Relief effect to text 2

Step 3

Turn the visibility back on for the original letters and set all of them to Blending Mode Overlay

Bas Relief effect result

Step 4

If you zoom in on one of the letters, you'll notice that the Bas Relief effect, although it’s great, gives us pixelated edges. Don't worry: we can fix this with a simple mask. First, select all the original letters, and then Copy and Paste in Back (Control-B). Set the copies that you have obtained to stroke-none, fill-none by pressing the Clear Appearance icon at the bottom of the Appearance panel. 

Next, focus on the first letter. Select the copy of the “original S” that you just made, along with the letter “S” that has the Bas Relief effect applied to it, and go to Object > Clipping Mask > Make (Control-7). In the Layers panel you should see the new group, which I've called “Bas Relief”, and the “original S” that always stays on top. 

Create sharp edges for text

4. Create the Texture

Step 1

Grab the Rectangle Tool (M) and draw a big rectangle over the letters. As a reference, mine is about 550 x 200 px. Select white as the fill color, then go to Effect > Texture > Stained Glass, apply the settings from below, and hit OK.

Apply Stained Glass effect

Step 2

With the rectangle selected, choose Expand Appearance, and then go to Object > Live Trace > Tracing Options. Make the changes highlighted below and hit Trace, then select Expand from the Object menu. Now, your texture is vector. 

LIve Trace

Step 3

With the texture still selected, take a look at the dimensions in the Transform panel. Instead of the existing dimensions (whatever they are), type 480 px in the Width field and 120 px in the Height field. This will not only make the texture smaller, but also the cells will become smaller, and this is what we want. 

Resize vector texture

Step 4

Set the texture to Blending Mode Overlay and 20% Opacity (1). Next, select “original S”, “original P”,  …, “original “T”, then Copy and Paste in Front (Control-F) all of them. Remove all existing appearances, and bring them in front of everything by going to Object > Arrange > Bring to Front (Shift-Control-]). With these five copies still selected, go to Object > Compound Path > Make (Control-8) (2). Now, select the new compound path (stroke-none, fill-none) along with the texture and go to Object > Clipping Mask > Make (Control-7) (3). 

Mask the vector texture

Step 5

Go to the Layers panel and locate the texture under the mask that you just made. Copy and Paste in Front (Control-F), change the fill color from black to white, and then move it 1 px up and 1 px to the left by pressing the Up Arrow Key/Left Arrow Key on your keyboard once. Set the Blending Mode back to Normal but keep the Opacity at 20%

Duplicate the vector texture

5. Create the Baseball Stitches Pattern Brush

Step 1

Grab the Pen Tool (P) and draw a petal-like shape, but flat at the bottom. As a reference, my shape is about 12 x 33 px, so quite small (1). Use the Rotate option in the Transform panel to rotate this shape -15 degrees (2), then go to Object > Transform > Reflect, check Horizontal, and hit Copy. Arrange the two shapes as in the image, with the two inner corners overlapping a little (3). Move some of the inner points to get a relatively straight line in the middle, as indicated by the guide line (4). Finally, draw two ellipses and send them to the back (5).

Create baseball stitch brush

Step 2

Before you continue, make sure that the two petal-like shapes are filled with the same color (purple) and that the two ellipses are also filled with the same color (green). Now, select everything and drag it into the Brushes panel to save a New Pattern Brush. In the window that opens, just type a name for your brush and leave the settings as they are. 

Create baseball stitch brush 2

6. Create the Stitches on the Text

Step 1 

Use the Pen Tool (P) or the Pencil Tool (N) to draw two slightly curved paths on each letter, as in the image. Use the color indicated as the stroke color, and set the Stroke Weight at 0.5 pt

Apply baseball stitch brush

Step 2

With the ten paths still selected, choose Add New Stroke from the fly-out menu of the Appearance panel. This will add a second stroke above the first, and you can now use the Baseball Stitch Pattern Brush saved earlier. Set the Stroke Weight at 1 pt, and then double-click on the brush applied in the Appearance panel to open the Stroke Options window. Type 20% in the Scale field and hit OK

Apply baseball stitch brush 2

Step 3

Now, let’s color the baseball stitches. But first, select all the stroked paths and choose Expand Appearance from the Object menu. Zoom in on the letter “S”, then select using the Direct Selection Tool (A) only one of the purple shapes and go to Select > Same > Fill Color. As a result, all the purple shapes will be selected, and you can fill all of them at once with the radial gradient shown.

Color the baseball stitches

Step 4

Next, select only one of the green ellipses, then go to Select > Same > Fill Color. As a result, all the green ellipses will be selected, and you can fill them with the radial gradient shown. 

Color the baseball stitches 2

Step 5

It’s time to add some shadows. Take the Pen Tool (P) or the Pencil Tool (N) and again draw two paths on each letter. Notice that one of the paths follows the inner side of the stitch and the other follows the outer side of the second stitch (1). Keep this in mind when you draw the paths.

Select a 1 pt black Stroke for these ten paths, then go to Effect > Blur > Gaussian Blur and apply a 1.5 px Radius (2). Set all of them to 40% Opacity for a subtler shadow (3).

Add shadow for stitches

Step 6

Next, we'll create some masks, and I’ll use the letter “S” as an example. Select “original S”, then Copy and Paste in Front (Control-F). Remove all existing appearances, and bring it in front of everything by going to Object > Arrange > Bring to Front (Shift-Control-]) (1). Now, select this copy of the letter, along with the two stitches and the two shadow paths (2) and go to Object > Clipping Mask > Make (Control-7) (3). You can name the resulting group "Stitches 'S'" in the Layers panel. 

Mask baseball stitches

Step 7

Repeat the previous step for the rest of the letters, and at this point your text should have clean edges. 

Mask baseball stitches 2

7. Create the Worn Out/Dirty Look

Step 1 

Take the Pen Tool (P) or the Line Segment Tool (\) and draw a straight path over each letter, as in the next image. Select black as the fill color, then navigate to Brush Libraries Menu > Artistic > Artistic_ChalkCharcoalPencil and find Chalk Art Brush. Use it to stroke these five paths and increase the Stroke Weight to 2 pt

Use Chalk Art Brush

Step 2

Select “original S”, “original P”, …, “original T”, then Copy and Paste in Front (Control-F). Remove all existing appearances and bring them in front of everything by going to Object > Arrange > Bring to Front (Shift-Control-]). Now, focus on the letter “S”. Select the copy of the letter that you just made along with the stroked path and go to Object > Clipping Mask > Make (Control-7). You can name the resulting group "Dirt 'S'" in the Layers panel. 

Repeat the same thing for the rest of the letters in order to get clean edges. 

Use Chalk Art Brush 2

Step 3

Select the stroked path over the letter “S” and set the Blending Mode to Overlay. Do the same for the other four letters. You can also reduce the Opacity a little if necessary. 

Use Chalk Art Brush 3

8. Add the Shadow

Step 1 

Select the original letters, and then Copy and Paste in Back (Control-B). Remove all existing appearances, and send them behind everything by going to Object > Arrange > Send to Back (Shift-Control-[). Use the color indicated as the fill color, and then go to Effect > Stylize and apply the Drop Shadow effect four times. 

Add shadow to text

Step 2

These are the settings for the four Drop Shadow effects: 

Add shadow to text 2

9. Create the Grass Background

Step 1

First, create a new Layer called “BG” under the layer with the text effect. Grab the Rectangle Tool (M) and draw a rectangle the size of your artboard, which in my case is 600 x 400 px. Select the color indicated as the fill color.

Create the grass background

Step 2

Copy and Paste in Front (Control-F) the same rectangle and change the fill color to black. Then go to Effect > Sketch and apply the Note Paper effect. This is just the beginning, but you can see the rest of the details in my tutorial Create a Vector Grass Text Effect, since this background is inspired from there. Basically, follow the explanations and settings from step 2 to step 6 and you will obtain the grass background.  

Create the grass background 2

Step 3

At the end of step 6 the background should look like this:

Create the grass background 3

Step 4

Draw another rectangle with the same size and fill it with a radial gradient from white to black. Set it to Blending Mode Multiply and 40% Opacity and the background is ready. 

Create the grass background 4

10. Add Additional Tufts of Grass

Step 1

Return to the layer with the text effect. Go to the Symbols panel, open the Symbol Libraries Menu, and in the Nature category, find Grass 1, Grass 2 and Grass 3. Drag them into your artboard, then press the Break Link to Symbol icon at the bottom of the Symbols panel in order to expand them. 

Multiply these tufts of grass, scale, rotate and arrange a few around the letter “S”. You can follow my example or do it as you want (1). I decided to mask the grass from the top and from the left because it didn't look natural, and for that I used a copy of the “original S”, just like before (2). Select the copy of the letter along with the tufts of grass that you want to mask, and go to Object > Clipping Mask > Make (Control-7) (3).  

Add tufts of grass

Step 2 

Here are the rest of the letters. In column 1 you can see the tufts of grass that I've arranged around the letters, in column 2 you can see the tufts of grass that I've decided to mask, and in column 3 is the final result. 

Add tufts of grass 2
Add tufts of grass 3

Congratulations! You're done. 

The baseball-inspired text effect is ready. I hope that you learned some new things that you can apply in future projects. Leave me some feedback or share your re-creation of this effect, because I would love to see it. 

Baseball text effect
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