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Design

Create a Detailed Cheese Text Effect in Adobe Illustrator

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

In the following steps you will learn how to create a detailed cheese text effect and a cheese wedge illustration. For starters you will need a simple piece of text, the 3D Extrude & Bevel effect, and a simple Rounded Corners effect. You'll learn how to easily name and organize your shapes, how to create compound paths, how to cleverly use blending, masking and vector shape building techniques, and how to take full advantage of the Appearance panel. Lastly, you will learn how create a simple blend and how to use the Live Corners feature.

1. Create a New Document and Set Up 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 470 in the height box, and then click on the Advanced button. Select RGB, Screen (72 ppi), and make sure that the Align New Objects to Pixel Grid box is unchecked before you click OK.

new document setup grid

2. Create the Main Shapes

Step 1

Pick the Type Tool (T), click on your artboard, and add the "CHEESE" piece of text. Use the Aldo the Apache font, set the size to 140 px and the tracking to 100, and make sure that the text color is set to R=255 G=220 B=72.

create main shapes

Step 2

Reselect your piece of text and go to Type > Create Outlines (Shift-Control-O). Make sure that the resulting group of shapes is selected and simply hit Shift-Control-G to Ungroup it. Select all your yellow shapes and hit Control-8 (or go to Object > Compound Path > Make) to turn them into a simple compound path. Make sure that this new compound path stays selected and go to Effect > Stylize > Rounded Corners. Enter a 5 px Radius and click OK.

create main shapes

Step 3

Make sure that your yellow compound path is still selected and go to Effect > 3D > Extrude & Bevel. Click the More Options button, enter all the attributes shown in the following image, and click OK.

create main shapes

Step 4

Reselect your compound path and go to Object > Expand Appearance. Make sure that the resulting group of shapes is selected and hit the Shift-Control-G command three times to Ungroup it. Now, select the six shapes that make the the front side of your letters, turn them into a new compound path (Control-8) and simply replace the existing fill color with R=255 G=220 B=72.

create main shapes

Step 5

Select all the shapes that make up the lateral side of your letters, click the Unite button from the Pathfinder panel (Window > Pathfinder), and turn the resulting shapes into a second compound path (Control-8). Focus on the Layers panel and open the existing layer. First, double-click on the name of your yellow compound path and rename it "front". Then focus on the compound path made in this step, rename it "3D" and make sure that it lies below your "front" compound path.

create main shapes

Step 6

Reselect your "front" compound path, make a copy in front (Control-C > Control-F), select it and replace the existing fill color with R=237 G=170 B=37. Move to the Layers panel and rename this new shape "back". Select it along with your "3D" shape, make sure that the Selection Tool (V) is active, click on your "3D" shape (it should get emphasized), and then open the Align pane (Window > Align) and click the Vertical Align Bottom button. In the end your "back" shape should be placed as shown in the third image. Make sure that it's still selected and simply hit Control-[ to send it behind your "front" shape, as shown in the fourth image.

create main shapes

Step 7

Select your "back" shape and make a copy in front (Control-C > Control-F). Move to the Layers panel, rename the newly created shape "shadow", and then drag it below the existing shapes. Make sure that your "shadow" shape stays selected and focus on the Appearance panel. Select the existing stroke, set its color to R=228 G=162 B=75, and simply click on that underlined "Stroke" piece of text to open the Stroke fly-out panel. Make sure that the Width is set at 1 px and check the Align Stroke to Outside button. Return to the Appearance panel and click on the underlined "Opacity" piece of text that stands for your stroke to open the Transparency fly-out panel. Focus on the Opacity box and simply drag that slider to 20%.

create main shapes

Step 8

Make sure that your "shadow" shape stays selected and keep focusing on the Appearance panel. Select the existing stroke and duplicate it using the Duplicate Selected Item button. Select the new stroke, lower its Opacity to 10%, and increase the stroke Width to 2 px.

create main shapes

Step 9

Make sure that your "shadow" shape stays selected and keep focusing on the Appearance panel. Select the existing fill and go to Effect > Stylize > Drop Shadow. Enter the properties shown in the top left window (in the following image), click OK, and then add the other three Drop Shadow effects shown below.

create main shapes

3. Add Shading and Highlights for the Lateral Sides of Your Letters

Step 1

Go to Edit > Preferences > General and make sure that the Keyboard Increment is set at 1px. Make sure that your "3D" shape is selected and make two copies in front (Control-C > Control-F > Control-F). Select the top copy and move it 1 px up using the up button from your keyboard. 

Reselect both copies made in this step and click the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Turn the resulting group of shapes into a compound path (Control-8), make sure that it stays selected, and focus on the Appearance panel. Set the fill color to R=237 G=170 B=37 and change the Blending Mode to Soft Light.

shading highlights lateral sides

Step 2

Make sure that your "3D" shape is selected and make a copy in front (Control-C > Control-F). Move it 1 px up and then duplicate it (Control-C > Control-F). Select this new copy and move 3 px up. Reselect both copies made in this step and click the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Turn the resulting group of shapes into a compound path (Control-8), make sure that it stays selected, and focus on the Appearance panel. Set the fill color to R=255 G=220 B=72 and lower the Opacity to 70%.

shading highlights lateral sides

Step 3

Select your "3D" shape, bring it to front (Shift-Control-]) and click the Divide button from the Pathfinder panel. Make sure that the resulting group of shapes stays selected, 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, make sure that the Angle is set to 0 degrees, and move to the gradient sliders. Select the left gradient slider, make it black (R=0 G=0 B=0) and lower its Opacity to 0%. Then move to the right gradient slider and add the same attributes. 

Focus on the gradient bar and simply click on it to add a new gradient slider. Make sure that this new slider is selected, set its color to black, lower its Opacity to 80%, and then focus on the Location box and drag that slider to 10%

Keep in mind that the blue numbers from the Gradient images stand for Location percentage, while the yellow ones stand for Opacity percentage. Add a fourth gradient slider, make it white (R=255 G=255 B=255), and set its Location to 90%.

shading highlights lateral sides

Step 4

Make sure that the group of shapes edited in the previous step is still selected and focus on the Transparency panel (Window > Transparency). Lower the Opacity to 50% and change the Blending Mode to Soft Light.

shading highlights lateral sides

4. Add Shading and Highlights for the Front Sides of Your Letters

Step 1

Reselect your "front" shape, make a copy in front (Control-C > Control-F) and bring it to front (Shift-Control-]). Make sure that this copy stays selected, fill it with the linear gradient shown in the following image, and change its Blending Mode to Soft Light. Remember that the yellow numbers from the Gradient image stand for Opacity percentage.

shading highlights front side

Step 2

Focus on the Layers panel, reselect your "front" shape and make two copies in front (Control-C > Control-F > Control-F). Keep focusing on the Layers panel, select the top copy, and move it 1 px up. Reselect both copies made in this step and click the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Turn the resulting group of shapes into a compound path (Control-8), make sure that it stays selected and focus on the Appearance panel. 

Select the existing fill, set the color at white, change its Blending Mode to Soft Light and go to Effect > Blur > Gaussian Blur. Enter a 3 px Radius, click OK and then return to the Appearance panel and add a second fill for your shape using the Add New Fill button. Select the new fill, make sure that the color is set to white, and lower its Opacity to 60% and change the Blending Mode to Soft Light. Once you're done, move to the Layers panel and rename the compound path made in this step "sleekHighlight".

shading highlights front side

5. Create the Holes

Step 1

Enable the Grid (View > Show Grid) and the Snap to Grid (View > Snap to Grid). For starters you will need a grid every 1 px, so simply go to Edit > Preferences > Guides > Grid, enter 1 in the Gridline every box and 1 in the Subdivisions box. Try not to get discouraged by all that grid, because it will make your work easier. And keep in mind that you can easily enable or disable it using the Control-" keyboard shortcut.

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.

create holes

Grab the Ellipse Tool (L), create a 14 px circle, set the fill color to R=190 G=39 B=45, and make sure that it doesn't have a stroke. Using the same tool, create another four circles and use the attributes shown in the following image.

create holes

Step 2

Multiply your colored circles and spread them across your text roughly as shown in the first image. Once your're done, disable the Grid (Control-') and the Snap to Grid (Shift-Control-'). Select all these circles and simply hit Control-G to Group them. Make sure that your new group is selected and go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Roughen. Enter the properties shown in the following image and click OK.

create holes

Step 3

Reselect your group of colored circles and go to Object > Expand Appearance. Make sure that the resulting group of shapes remains selected, click the Unite button from the Pathfinder panel, and then hit Control-8. Select this new compound path and make sure that the fill color is set to R=57 G=181 B=74.

create holes

Step 4

Make sure that your green compound path is selected and make two copies in front (Control-C > Control-F > Control-F). Select the top copy and move it 1 px down. Reselect both copies made in this step and click the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Turn the resulting group of shapes into a compound path, make sure that it stays selected, and focus on the Appearance panel. Set the fill color to black, lower the Opacity to 20%, and change the Blending Mode to Soft Light.

create holes

Step 5

Make sure that your green compound path is selected and make two copies in front (Control-C > Control-F > Control-F). Select the top copy and move it 3 px down. Reselect both copies made in this step and click the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Turn the resulting group of shapes into a compound path, make sure that it stays selected, and focus on the Appearance panel. Set the fill color to black, lower the Opacity to 15%, and change the Blending Mode to Soft Light.

create holes

Step 6

Make sure that your green compound path is selected and make two copies in front (Control-C > Control-F > Control-F). Focus on the Layers panel, and this time select the bottom copy and move it 1 px down. Reselect both copies made in this step and click the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Turn the resulting group of shapes into a compound path, make sure that it stays selected, and focus on the Appearance panel. Set the fill color to white, lower the Opacity to 80%, and change the Blending Mode to Soft Light.

create holes

Step 7

Make sure that your green compound path is selected and make two copies in front (Control-C > Control-F > Control-F). Select the top copy and move it 1 px up. Reselect both copies made in this step and click the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Turn the resulting group of shapes into a compound path, make sure that it stays selected, and focus on the Appearance panel. Set the fill color to white, lower the Opacity to 50%, and change the Blending Mode to Soft Light.

create holes

Step 8

Make sure that your green compound path is selected and make two copies in front (Control-C > Control-F > Control-F). Select the top copy and move it 2 px up. Reselect both copies made in this step and click the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Turn the resulting group of shapes into a compound path, make sure that it stays selected, and focus on the Appearance panel. Set the fill color to white, lower the Opacity to 50%, and change the Blending Mode to Soft Light.

create holes

Step 9

Make sure that your green compound path is selected and focus on the Appearance panel. Select the fill, replace the green with black, lower its Opacity to 60%, and change the Blending Mode to Soft Light. Keep focusing on the Appearance panel and select the existing stroke. Make it black, set the Width to 3 px, align it to inside, lower its Opacity to 10%, and change the Blending Mode to Soft Light

Make sure that the stroke is still selected and simply duplicate it using that same Duplicate Selected Item button. Select your new stroke, increase its Opacity to 20% and decrease the Width to 1 px. Now, reselect the shape edited in this step along with the thin compound path used to highlight it and Group them (Control-G). Move to the Layers panel and simply rename this new group "Holes".

create holes

Step 10

Focus on the Layers panel and duplicate your "front" and "back" shapes (Control-C > Control-F). Select these copies, click the Unite button from the Pathfinder panel, and hit Control-8. Bring this new compound path to front (Shift-Control-]) and make sure that it's white.

create holes

Step 11

Reselect the white compound path made in the previous step along with your "Holes" group, focus on the Transparency panel, and simply click the Make Mask button. If you're not an Illustrator CC user you need to open the fly-out menu of the Transparency panel and click the Make Opacity Mask command.

create holes

6. Add Shading and Highlights for the Overall Text Effect

Step 1

Reselect your "Holes" group and make a copy in front (Control-C > Control-F). Select this new group, click the Unite button from the Pathfinder panel, and hit Control-8. Bring this new compound path to front (Shift-Control-]) and make sure that it's black.

shading highlights overall text

Step 2

Reselect the black compound path made in the previous step along with your "sleekHighlight" shape, focus on the Transparency panel, click the Make Mask button, and then uncheck the Clip box.

shading highlights overall text

Step 3

Focus on the Layers panel, reselect your "front" shape and make two copies in front (Control-C > Control-F > Control-F). Keep focusing on the Layers panel, select the top copy, and move it 3 px down. Reselect both copies made in this step and click the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Turn the resulting group of shapes into a compound path (Control-8), make sure that it stays selected, focus on the Appearance panel, and set the fill color to white.

shading highlights overall text

Step 4

Make sure that the white compound path made in the previous step is still selected and focus on the Appearance panel. Change the Blending Mode to Color Dodge, and then go to Effect > Path > Offset Path. Enter a -1 px Offset, click OK and go to Effect > Blur > Gaussian Blur. Enter a 2 px Radius and click OK.

shading highlights overall text

Step 5

Focus on the Layers panel and duplicate your "front" and "back" shapes (Control-C > Control-F). Select these copies, click the Unite button from the Pathfinder panel, and hit Control-8. Bring this new compound path to front (Shift-Control-]), make sure that it's white, and then go to Effect > Stylize > Inner Glow. Enter the properties shown in the following image and click OK.

shading highlights overall text

Step 6

Make sure that your white compound path is still selected and go to Object > Expand Appearance. Focus on the Layers panel, simply Ungroup the resulting group, and you will get two new groups, a simple one and a masked one. Delete the simple group, select the masked one, and focus on the Transparency panel. Change the Blending Mode to Soft Light and lower the Opacity to 70%.

shading highlights overall text

Step 7

Focus on your Toolbar and double-click on the Blend Tool to open the Blend Options window. Select Specified Steps from the Spacing drop-down menu and enter 50 in that white box. Move to the Layers panel, reselect your "front" and "back" shapes, and hit Alt-Control-B to create a new blend. In the end things should look like in the second image.

shading highlights overall text

7. Create a Cheese Wedge

Step 1

Enable the Grid (Control-') and the Snap to Grid (Shift-Control-'). For these final steps you will need a grid every 5 px which means that you need to go to Edit > Preferences > Guides & Grid and enter 5 in the Gridline every box. Pick the Ellipse Tool (L), create a 100 px circle, set the fill color at R=255 G=220 B=72 and place it roughly as shown in the following image.

create cheese wedge

Step 2

Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 100 x 50 px shape, pick a simple red for the fill color, and place it as shown in the first image. Focus on the top side of this new rectangle and grab the Direct Selection Tool (A). Select the right anchor point, drag it 50 px to the left then switch to the Delete Anchor Point Tool (-). Simply click on the left anchor point to remove it, and your red shape will turn into a triangle as shown in the second image.

create cheese wedge

Step 3

Reselect your red triangle along with the yellow circle and click the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel.

create cheese wedge

Step 4

Disable the Grid (Control-") and the Snap to Grid (Shift-Control-'). Keep focusing on the yellow shape made in the previous step and grab the Direct Selection Tool (A). Select the two anchor points highlighted in the first image, focus on the top bar and simply enter a 5 px radius in that Corners box. In the end things should look like in the second image. 

This feature is only available for CC users. The best solution to replace this effect would be the Round Any Corner script that you can find in this article: 20 Free and Useful Adobe Illustrator Scripts. Save it to your hard drive, return to Illustrator and grab the Direct Selection Tool (A). Select those anchor points and go to File > Scripts > Other Script. Open the Round Any Corner Script, enter a 5 px radius and click OK. The end result might look a bit different, so feel free to try a different value for the radius. In some cases you will have to increase/decrease the value mentioned in that Corners box.

create cheese wedge

Step 5

Make sure that your yellow shape is still selected and go to Effect > 3D > Extrude & Bevel. Don't forget to click the More Options button, enter all the attributes shown in the following image, and click OK.

create cheese wedge

Step 6

Reselect your 3D yellow shape and go to Object > Expand Appearance. Ungroup (Shift-Control-G) the resulting group of shapes, and then simply repeat the techniques and effects used for the text shapes. In the end things should look like in the third image.

create cheese wedge

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.

final product
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