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Text Effects

Create a Bending 3D Text Effect in Adobe Illustrator

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In the following tutorial you will learn how to create a 3D Text Effect in Adobe Illustrator. In addition to using the 3D tools, you'll layer letter shapes to create color shifts with gradients and highlights. You'll also work in subtle patterns controlled with Opacity Masks.


Step 1

Create a 600 by 620px, RGB document and start with the background. Using the Rectangle Tool (M) create a shape the size of your artboard. Fill it with a linear gradient, as shown in the following image. Take a closer look at the gradient in the image and you'll notice some white numbers above the gradients sliders. Those numbers stand for Location percentages.


Step 2

Select the shape from the previous step and go to the Appearance panel (Window > Appearance). Open the fly-out menu and click on Add New Fill. This will add a second fill for your selected shape. Make it black, lower its Opacity to 3%, change the blending mode to Multiply, then go to Effect > Artistic > Film Grain. Enter the data shown in the following image and click OK.


Step 3

Select the Rectangular Grid Tool and simply click on your artboard. Enter all the data shown in the following image and click OK. This will add a nice grid. Select it, add a 0.25pt, black stroke and then place it above the existing rectangle.


Step 4

Reselect the Rectangle Tool (M), create a new shape the size of your artboard and place it above the grid. Let's focus on this new shape. Pick the Direct Selection Tool (A), select the bottom, left anchor point and move it 350px to the left. Select the bottom, right anchor point and move it 350px to the right. Now your shape should look like a trapezoid (image #1). Select it along with the grid and go to Object > Envelope Distort > Make with Top Object. In the end your grid should look like image #3.


Step 5

Reselect the grid, lower its Opacity to 10%, and change the blending mode to Multiply. Now go to Effect > Artistic > Film Grain. Enter the data shown in the first image and then click OK.

Reselect the Rectangle Tool (M), create a shape the size of your artboard and fill it with the linear gradient (shown in the second image). Select this new shape along with the grid and go to the Transparency panel (Window > Transparency). Open the fly-out menu and click on Make Opacity Mask. Now, your shape should look like image #3. Finally, lock all the shapes created so far.


Step 6

Now, let's add the text. Pick the Type Tool (T) and add the first word (Vector). Use the techno overload BRK font with a size of 180pt and set the color at R=0, G=178, B=180. Next, select the Vertical Type Tool and add the second word. Use the same font, size and color, but enter -200 in the tracking box. Select these two words and go to Object > Expand.


Step 7

Now, you should have two groups with the expanded words. Select the "VECTOR" group and hit Shift + Command + G to ungroup it, then select the other group and go to Object > Compound Path > Make. Select the resulting path along with the "T" from "VECTOR".

Pick the Selection Tool (V), click on the border of the "T" (it should get emphasized), then go to the Align panel (Window > Align) and click on the Horizontal Align Left and Vertical Align Top buttons. In the end your shapes should be aligned as shown in the third image. Select one of the "T" shapes and delete it, then select all these letter shapes and go to Object > Compound Path > Make.


Step 8

Select the path made in the previous step and go to Effect > 3D > Extrude & Bevel. Follow the data shown in the following image and click OK. Make two copies of this shape (Command + C > Command + F) and make them invisible. You'll need them later. Now reselect the original shape and go to Object > Expand Appearance.


Step 9

Select the group resulted from the previous step and hit Shift + Command + G once. Now you should have a group for each expanded letter. Go to the Layers panel, drill down into these groups, find the top letter shapes and move them out. Select all these shapes, fill them with a darker color and move them into the top of the Layers panel. This way you will distinguish them easier from the rest of the shapes.


Step 10

Create the two gradients shown in the following image and save them into your Swatches panel. You will use them a lot in the following steps. Again, pay attention at the gradient images. The yellow numbers stand for Opacity percentages.


Step 11

Now let's take care of the rest of the shapes. Let's start with the first letter. Select the shapes shown in the first image and click on the Unite button from the Pathfinder panel. Make sure that the resulting shape is filled with R=0, G=178, B=180 and then add three new fills and use the linear gradients saved in the previous step.


Step 12

Select the shapes shown in the first image and click on the Unite button from the Pathfinder panel. Add a new fill for the resulting shape and use Gradient 1.


Step 13

Move to the second letter. Unite the shapes like you did with the previous letter, then add new fills and use the saved gradients. Most of the time you will need two Gradients (left and right) and a Gradient 2 (middle).


Step 14

Continue with the next letter. Unite the shapes and add the saved gradients.


Step 15

Next is the "T." First, create the gradient shown in the following image, save it, and name it "Gradient 3." Now unite the shapes and add the saved gradients as shown in the following image. The slider for gradient 3 is not very clear because of the other sliders. The extra, zoomed image might be helpful.


Step 16

Continue with the "O." Again, unite the shapes and add the saved gradients as shown.


Step 17

Next is the "R." Once again, unite the shapes and add the saved gradients.


Step 18

Move to the "U" and follow the same steps.


Step 19

Focus on the second "T," unite the shapes, then add the saved gradients. Again, you will need Gradient 3.


Step 20

Finally, we'll work on the "S." First, create the gradient shown in the following image, save it and name it "Gradient 4." Now unite the shapes and add the saved gradients as shown.


Step 21

Here is how your work should look like so far. Now let's focus on the dark, letter shapes. First, duplicate the top "VECTOR" shapes. Select these copies and go to Object > Compound Path > Make.


Step 22

Go to Edit > Preferences > General and enter 0.5px in the Keyboard Increment box. Duplicate the path made in the previous step (Command + C > Command + F). Select this copy and hit the up arrow once. Reselect the copy along with the original shape and click on the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Fill the resulting group of shapes with white and change its blending mode to Overlay.


Step 23

Move to the "U" shape. Select it and make two copies. Select the top copy and hit the up arrow twice. Reselect these two copies and click on the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Delete the very thin shapes and then select the remaining path. Fill it with the linear gradient shown below (image #2) and change the blending mode to Overlay. Save this gradient in your Swatches panel. You will need it again for the next two steps.


Step 24

Move to the "T" shape and make two copies. Select the top one and hit the up arrow three times. Reselect both copies and click on the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. You will get a group with two shapes.

Next you need to divide the left shape. Pick the Pen Tool (P) and draw a shape like the one shown in the second image. Select it along with the left shape and click on the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Now fill these three shapes with the linear gradient saved in the previous step and change their blending mode to Overlay.


Step 25

Finally, make two copies for the "S" shape. Select the top copy and hit the up arrow four times. Reselect both copies and click on the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Fill the resulting shapes with the freshly saved gradient, then change the blending mode to Overlay. Select the shapes created in the last four steps and group them. Double-click on this new group (in the Layers panel) and name it "Light."


Step 26

Here is how your work should look so far. Again, duplicate the top "VECTOR" shapes, then select these copies and go to Object > Compound Path > Make.


Step 27

Duplicate the path made in the previous step. This time hit the down arrow once. Reselect the copy along with the original path and click on the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Fill the resulting group of shapes with R=0, G=112, B=132. Now lower its Opacity to 50% and change the blending mode to Multiply.


Step 28

Move to the "U" shape. Select it and make two copies. Select the top copy and hit the down arrow twice. Reselect these two copies and click on the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Fill the resulting group of shapes with R=0, G=112, B=132. Lower its Opacity to 50% and change the blending mode to Multiply.


Step 29

Go to the "T" shape and make two copies. Select the top one and hit the down arrow three times. Reselect both copies and click on the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Fill the resulting group of shapes with R=0, G=112, B=132. Lower its Opacity to 50% and leave the blending mode at Normal.


Step 30

Once again, make two copies for the "S" shape. Select the top copy and hit the down arrow four times. Reselect both copies and click on the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Fill the resulting group of shapes with R=0, G=112, B=132, and lower its Opacity to 50%. Select the shapes created in the last four steps and group them. Double-click on this new group (in the Layers panel) and name it Dark.


Step 31

Reselect all the letter shapes and go to Object > Compound Path > Make. Be sure that the resulting shape is placed below the "Light" and "Dark" groups (in the Layers panel), then fill it with the linear gradient shown below. Double-click on this shape (in the Layers panel) and name it "Text."


Step 32

Add four new fills for the text shape. For the first three fills use the linear gradients shown. Now select the remaining fill from the Appearance panel. Make it black, lower its Opacity to 5%, change the blending mode to Multiply. Go to Effect > Artistic > Film Grain. Enter the data shown below (image #4) and click OK.


Step 33

Now, because of the Film Grain effect the edges of text are a bit pixelated. It might be hard to notice it, especially because of the background, yet it's better to mask them. Duplicate the text shape (Command + C > Command + F). Select this copy, go the Appearance panel, keep only one fill and make it white. Select this white shape along with the original text shape and go to the Transparency panel. Open the fly-out menu and click on Make Opacity Mask.


Step 34

Duplicate the masked shape from the previous step. Select this copy, open the fly-out menu of the Transparency panel and go to Release Opacity Mask. Keep the white shape and delete the other one. Now you need replace the flat white with a nice built in pattern. Open the fly-out menu of the Swatches panel and go to Open Swatch Library > Patterns > Decorative > Decorative_Modern.

Reselect the white shape and click on the Optical Squares 2 pattern. Now that you added the pattern for your shape, lower its Opacity to 30% and change the blending mode to Overlay. Finally, bring this shape to front (Shift + Command + Right Bracket key).


Step 35

Duplicate the shape made in the previous step. Select this copy, raise the Opacity back to 100%, change the blending mode to Normal and fill it with the linear gradient shown below. Select this fresh shape along with the patterned one and go again to the Transparency panel. Open the fly-out menu and click on Make Opacity Mask. This will make the pattern gradually fade away.


Step 36

Turn on the visibility for one of the copies made in the eighth step. Go to the Appearance panel and open the Extrude & Bevel effect. Click on the More Options button, check the Draw Hidden Faces box, then click OK and go to Object > Expand Appearance. Again, you will get a group with a lot of subgroups and shapes.

This step will require some patience. Drill down into these groups and find the bottom letter shapes. Move these nine shapes outside the group and delete it. Select these shapes, go to Object > Compound Path > Make, then move the resulting path behind the other text components.


Step 37

Select the shape made in the previous step. Fill it with R=0, G=112, B=132. Now pick the Selection Tool (V) and drag the bottom line approximately 2px down.


Step 38

Reselect the shape from the previous step and go to Effect > Blur > Gaussian Blur. Enter a 2px radius and click OK. Duplicate this shape. Select this copy and move it between the grid and the background rectangle in the Layers panel. Replace the fill color for this copy with R=209, G=211, B=212. Open the Gaussian Blur effect from the Appearance panel and raise the radius to 10px radius.


Step 39

Select the gray shape from the previous step and go to Object > Path > Offset Path. Enter a 5px radius and click OK. Select the resulting path and hit the down arrow seven times. Now fill it with R=220, G=220, B=220. Now open the Gaussian Blur effect and raise the radius to 15px.


Step 40

Turn on the visibility for the other copy made in the eighth step. Select this copy, Bring it to Front (Shift + Command + Right Bracket key), then open the Extrude & Bevel effect from the Appearance panel. Go to the Surface drop down menu and select Wireframe, then click OK, and apply Object > Expand Appearance.


Step 41

Duplicate the patterned shape. Select this copy, unmask it and keep only the mask (the shape with the gradient). Replace the gradient with a flat black, then Bring the shape to Front (Shift + Command + Right Bracket key). Select it along with the group resulted from the previous step and go the the Transparency panel. Open the fly-out menu, click on Make Opacity Mask and uncheck the Clip box. Finally, select this masked group, lower its Opacity to 30% and you're done.


Conclusion

The final image is shown below.

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