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Create a Christmas, Knitted Text Effect in Adobe Illustrator

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Gift

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This post is part of a series called Christmas Illustration Content.
How to Create a Holiday Themed Typography Piece in Adobe Illustrator
How to Create a Paper Quill Holiday Greeting in Adobe Illustrator

In the following steps you will learn how to create a knitted text effect in Adobe Illustrator. For starters you will learn how to setup a simple grid and how to create a set of art brushes. Next, using these little brushes, some basic grouping techniques and two Transform effects you will create the main knits. Moving on, using a bunch of Transform effects and a simple rectangle you will create the knitted background and text. Finally, taking full advantage of the Appearance panel and using two raster effects along with some basic blending techniques you will learn how to add the subtle fabric texture.


1. Create a New Document and Setup a Grid

Hit Control-N to create a new document. Select Pixels from the Units drop-down menu, enter 600 in the width box and 673 in the height box then click on the Advanced button. Select RGB, Screen (72ppi) and make sure that the Align New Objects to Pixel Grid box is unchecked before you click OK.

Enable the Grid (View > Show Grid) and the Snap to Grid (View > Snap to Grid). You will need a grid every 1px, so simply go to Edit > Preferences > Guides > Grid, enter 1 in the Gridline every box and 1 in the Subdivisions box. You should also open the Info panel (Window > Info) for a live preview with the size and position of your shapes. Do not forget to set the unit of measurement to pixels from Edit > Preferences > Units > General. All these options will significantly increase your work speed.

Knitted Text Effect

2. Create Four Art Brushes

Step 1

Pick the Ellipse Tool (L) and focus on your Toolbar. Remove the color from the stroke then select the fill and set its color at R=141 G=198 B=63. Move to your artboard and simply create a 2 x 9px ellipse, the Snap to Grid should ease your work.

Make sure that this green shape stays selected, open the Brushes panel (Window > Brushes) and simply click the New Brush button (pointed by the little, blue arrow in the following image). Check the Art Brush box an click OK to open up the Art Brush Options window. Enter the properties shown in the following image, name it "green" then click the OK button. In the end your green art brush should show up in the Brushes panel.

Knitted Text Effect

Step 2

Make sure that your squeezed circle is still selected and replace the green used for the fill with R=255 G=222 B=23. Using this yellow shape, create a second art brush and name it "yellow".

Knitted Text Effect

Step 3

Make sure that your squeezed circle is still selected and replace the yellow used for the fill with R=246 G=72 B=48. Open the Appearance panel (Window > Appearance) and add a second fill for this orange shape using the Add New Fill button (pointed by the little, blue arrow in the following image). Select this new fill, set its color at white (R=255 G=255 B=255) and go to Effect > Path > Offset Path. Enter a -0.5px Offset, click OK and return to the Appearance panel.

Make sure that the white fill stays selected, open the Transparency panel (Window > Transparency), lower the Opacity to 50% and change the Blending Mode to Soft Light. Using this orange shape, create a new art brush and simply name it "orange".

Knitted Text Effect

Step 4

Make sure that your squeezed circle is still selected, focus on the Appearance panel, select the bottom fill and replace the existing color with R=246 G=192 B=168.

Keep focusing on the Appearance panel, select the white fill, go to the Transparency panel and increase the Opacity to 100%. Using this beige shape, create a new art brush and simply name it "beige". Once you can see all four art brushes inside your Brushes panel you can remove the squeezed circle from your artboard.

Knitted Text Effect

3. Create the Main Stitches

Step 1

Pick the Pen Tool (P), create an 8px, vertical path and focus on the Appearance panel. Make sure that there is no color set for the fill then select the stroke and add the "orange" art brush from your Brushes panel. Keep focusing on this little path, switch to the Direct Selection Tool (A), select the bottom anchor point and simply drag it 3px to the right. In the end things should look like in the second image.

Reselect the path made in this step and go to Object > Transform > Reflect. Check the Horizontal box and click the Copy button to create a horizontally flipped copy. Select this newly created path and simply drag it 2px up and 4px to the right. In the end things should look like in the fourth image. Select both shapes made in this step and Group them (Control-G). Move to the Layers panel, double-click on this new group and simply name it "Orange".

Knitted Text Effect

Step 2

Reselect your "Orange" group and make a copy in front (Control-C > Control-F). Move to the Layers panel, double-click on this new group and rename it "Beige". Select the two paths inside this second group and replace the "orange" art brush used for the stroke with the "beige" art brush. Make sure that your "Beige" group is selected and drag it a few pixels to the right as shown in the following image.

Knitted Text Effect

Step 3

Reselect your "Orange" group and make a copy in front (Control-C > Control-F). Move to the Layers panel, double-click on this new group and rename it "Yellow". Select the two paths inside this third group and replace the "orange" art brush used for the stroke with the "yellow" art brush.

Reselect your "Beige" group and make a copy in front (Control-C > Control-F). Move to the Layers panel, double-click on this new group and rename it "Green". Select the two paths inside this fourth group and replace the "beige" art brush used for the stroke with the "green" art brush. Make sure that your "Yellow" and "Green" groups are selected and drag them a few pixels down as shown in the following image.

Knitted Text Effect

Step 4

Reselect your "Green" group and go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Enter 1 in the copies box, drag the Move-Horizontal slider at 8px, click OK and go again to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Again, enter 1 in the copies box, drag the Move-Vertical slider at 7px and click OK. In the end things should look like in the following image.

Knitted Text Effect

4. Create the Background Stitches

Step 1

Set the fill color at R=206 G=32 B=8, grab the Rectangle Tool (M) and simply click on your artboard to open the Rectangle window. Enter 602 in the Width box and 675 in the Height box then click the OK button.

Next, you need to center this red rectangle, so open the Align panel (Window > Align). Set the aligning to Artboard (open the fly out menu and go to Show Options if you can't see the Align To section as shown in the following image) then simply click the Horizontal Align Center and Vertical Align Center buttons. In the end your rectangle should cover the entire artboard as shown in the following image. Move to the Layers panel, double click on this red rectangle and name it "bg".

Knitted Text Effect

Step 2

Select your "Orange" group and place it as shown in the first image. Make sure that this group stays selected and go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Enter 74 in the copies box, drag the Move-Horizontal slider at 8px, click OK and go again to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. This time enter 97 in the copies box, drag the Move-Vertical slider at 7px and click OK. In the end things should look like in the second image.

Knitted Text Effect

Step 3

Select your "Beige" group and make a copy in front (Control-C > Control-F). Place this group copy as shown in the first image and go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Enter 74 in the copies box, drag the Move-Horizontal slider at 8px, click OK and go again to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. This time enter 1 in the copies box, drag the Move-Vertical slider at 7px and click OK. In the end things should look like in the second image.

Knitted Text Effect

Step 4

Reselect the "Beige" group with the two Transform effects and duplicate it (Control-C > Control-F). Select this copy and simply drag it 35px down as shown in the following image.

Knitted Text Effect

Step 5

Select the original "Beige" group, place it as shown in the first image and go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Enter 36 in the copies box, drag the Move-Horizontal slider at 16px and click OK. In the end things should look like in the second image.

Knitted Text Effect

Step 6

Reselect all three "Beige" groups and duplicate them (Control-C > Control-F). Drag these copies down and place them as shown in the following image.

Knitted Text Effect

5. Create the Knitted Text

Step 1

Multiply the "Green" and the "Yellow" groups then use these copies to make your letters. You should be able to build most of these letters using ten knits vertically and six knits horizontally. Only for a small numbers of letters (e.g. M N W) you will have to use seven knits horizontally.

Knitted Text Effect

Step 2

Use your imagination along with the "Yellow" and "Green" groups to create your entire text.

Knitted Text Effect

Step 3

Select all the paths inside your "Green" and "Yellow" groups. Focus on the Appearance panel and replace the existing art brushes used for the stroke with the "beige" art brush. In the end things should look like in the following image.

Knitted Text Effect

6. Add the Fabric Texture

Step 1

Reselect your "bg" rectangle, make a copy in front (Control-C > Control-F) and bring it to front (Shift-Control-] ). Move to the Layers panel, double click on this new shape and name it "texture".

Knitted Text Effect

Step 2

Make sure that your "texture" shape stays selected and focus on the Appearance panel. Select the fill, replace the existing color with black, lower its Opacity to 8%, change the Blending Mode to Multiply and go to Effect > Artistic > Film Grain. Enter the properties shown in the following image and click OK.

Knitted Text Effect

Step 3

Make sure that your "texture" shape stays selected, focus on the Appearance panel and add a second fill using that same Add New Fill button. Select this new fill, make sure that the color is set at black, change its Blending Mode to Multiply and go to Effect > Distort > Diffuse Glow. Enter the properties shown in the following image and click OK.

Knitted Text Effect

Step 4

Make sure that your "texture" shape stays selected, focus on the Appearance panel and add a third fill using that same Add New Fill button. Select this new fill, open the Gradient panel (Window > Gradient) and simply click on the gradient thumbnail to add the default black to white linear gradient. Keep focusing on the Gradient panel, set the Angle at 90 degrees then move to the gradient sliders. First, select the left one and set the color at black (R=0 G=0 B=0) then select the right one and set the color at R=206 G=32 B=8. Make sure that the right slider is still selected, focus on the Opacity box (from the Gradient panel) and set it at 0%. Return to the Appearance panel, make sure that the third fill is still selected then move to the Transparency panel. Lower the Opacity to 15% and change the Blending Mode to Color Burn.

Knitted Text Effect

Step 5

Make sure that your "texture" shape stays selected, focus on the Appearance panel, select the top fill and duplicate it using the Duplicate Selected Item button (pointed by the little, blue arrow in the following image). Select this new fill, focus on the Gradient panel, set the type at Radial and click the Reverse Gradient button. Move to your artboard, grab the Gradient Tool (G) and stretch that radial gradient as shown in the following image. Check out this short video if you're not familiar with the Gradient Tool (G).

Knitted Text Effect

Step 6

Focus on the Layers panel, reselect your "Orange" group and go to Effect > Stylize > Drop Shadow. Enter the properties shown in the left window (in the following image), click OK and go again to Effect > Stylize > Drop Shadow. Enter the properties shown in the right window (in the following image), click OK and you're done.

Knitted Text Effect

Congratulations! You're Done!

Here is how it should look. I hope you've enjoyed this tutorial and can apply these techniques in your future projects.

Knitted Text Effect
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