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Text Effects

Create a Detailed Circuit Board Text Effect in Adobe Illustrator

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In the following steps you will learn how to create a circuit board text effect in Adobe Illustrator. In the beginning you will learn how to setup a simple grid and how to create the main circuit board shape using basic tool and effect along with some Pathfinder options. Moving on, using basic vector shape building techniques and taking full advantage of the Transform effect and the Snap to Gird feature you will lean how to create the circuit paths. Finally, using mostly the Appearance panel, you will learn how to create a chip and some smaller circuit board components.


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 355 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). For starters you will need a grid every 5px, so simply go to Edit > Preferences > Guides > Grid, enter 5 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.

Circuit Board Text Effect

2. Create the Board

Step 1

Pick the Rectangle Tool (M) and focus on your Toolbar. Remove the color from the stroke then select the fill and set its color at R=2 G=110 B=60. Move to your artboard and simply create a 410 x 165px rectangle, the Snap to Grid should ease your work.

Circuit Board Text Effect

Step 2

Using the Ellipse Tool (L), create a 5px circle, set the fill color at black and place it as shown in the first image. Make sure that this new shape is selected and go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Enter the properties shown in the left window (in the following image), click OK and go again to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Enter the properties shown in the right window (in the following image), click OK and go to Object > Expand Appearance.

Circuit Board Text Effect

Step 3

Make sure that the Ellipse Tool (L) is still active, create a new 5px circle, set the fill color at black and place it as shown in the following image.

Circuit Board Text Effect

Step 4

Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 10 x 5px shape, set the fill color at black and place it as shown in the first image. Make sure that this new shape is selected and go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Enter the properties shown in the left window (in the following image), click OK and go again to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Enter the properties shown in the right window (in the following image), click OK and go to Object > Expand Appearance.

Circuit Board Text Effect

Step 5

Make sure that the Rectangle Tool (M) is still active and focus on the top, right corner of your green rectangle. Create a 10px square, set the fill color at black and place it as shown in the fist image. Keep focusing on this new shape, grab the Delete Anchor Point Tool (-) and simply click on the bottom, left anchor point to remove it. This should turn your black square into a triangle. Reselect the Rectangle Tool (M) and focus on the bottom, left corner of your green rectangle. Create a new 10px square, set the fill color at black and place it as shown in the fist image. Keep focusing on this new shape, grab the Delete Anchor Point Tool (-) and simply remove the top, right anchor point. In the end things should look like in the second image.

Circuit Board Text Effect

Step 6

Select one of your black shapes and go to Select > Same > Appearance. This will select all your black shapes. Make sure that these shapes are selected and hit Control + 8 (or go to Object > Compound Path > Make) to turn them into a simple Compound Path.

Circuit Board Text Effect

Step 7

Select your black compound path along with the green rectangle, open the Pathfinder panel (Window > Pathfinder) and click the Minus Front button. Make sure that the resulting shape stays selected, focus on the Appearance panel (Window > Appearance), add a 2pt stroke, set the color at R=50 G=130 B=90 and align it to inside. Keep focusing on the Appearance panel and add a second stroke for this shape using the Add New Stroke button (pointed by the little, blue arrow in the following image). Select this new stroke, set the color at R=0 G=60 B=20 and decrease its width to 1px.

Circuit Board Text Effect

Step 8

Reselect your compound path and go to Effect > Stylize > Drop Shadow. Enter the properties shown in the top, left window (in the following image), click OK then add the other four Drop Shadow effects shown in the following image. Move to the Layers panel and lock this compound path just to make sure that you won't accidentally select/move it.

Circuit Board Text Effect

3. Add a Piece of Text and Two Simple Rectangle

Step 1

Grab the Type Tool (T), click on your artboard and add the "VECTOR" piece of text. Use the "Viafont" font, set the size at 80px and the color at white. Make sure that your piece of text is still selected, go to the Transparency panel (Window > Transparency) and lower the Opacity to 30%. Move to the Layers panel and lock this piece of text.

Circuit Board Text Effect

Step 2

Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 45px square, set the fill color at black and place it as shown in the first image. Continue with the Rectangle Tool (M) is still active, create a 10 x 35px shape, set the fill color at black and place it as shown in the first image. Make sure that this new shape is selected and go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Enter the properties shown in the left window (in the following image), click OK and go again to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Enter the properties shown in the right window (in the following image) and click OK.

Circuit Board Text Effect

4. Create the Green Circuits

Step 1

Using the Pen Tool (P), create a 35px, vertical path and place it as shown in the first image. Add a 1pt for this new path, set its color at R=117 G=165 B=75 and make sure that you have no color set for the fill. Make sure that your vertical path is still selected and go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Enter the properties shown in the following image and click OK. Duplicate this thin path (Control + C > Control + F), select the copy, drag it down and place it as shown in the third image.

Circuit Board Text Effect

Step 2

Select the bottom, vertical path and go to Object > Expand Appearance. Move to the Layers panel, select the newly created group and hit Shift + Control + G twice to Ungroup it.

Circuit Board Text Effect

Step 3

Keep focusing on your bottom row of vertical paths. Focus on the first two paths and grab the Direct Selection Tool (A). Select the top anchor point (highlighted in the first image) and simply hit Control + J (or go to Object > Path > Join) to connect them. Make sure that the Direct Selection Tool (A) is active, reselect the two anchor points highlighted in the second image and drag them 25px up. In the end things should look like in the third image.

Circuit Board Text Effect

Step 4

Move to the third vertical path from your bottom row of vertical paths. Select it, grab the Pen Tool (P), click on the top anchor point, move 35px up then simply click to add a third anchor point. Make sure that your path stays selected, move 30px to the left and add a fourth anchor point then move 35px down and add the final anchor point for your path. In the end things should look like in the fourth image.

Circuit Board Text Effect

Step 5

Move to the fourth vertical path from your bottom row of vertical paths. Grab the Direct Selection Tool (A), select the top anchor point and drag it 50px up.

Circuit Board Text Effect

Step 6

Select your top, vertical path and go to Object > Expand Appearance. Move to the Layers panel, select the resulting group of shapes and hit Shift + Control + G twice to Ungroup it. Now, using the Direct Selection Tool (A) and the Pen Tool (P) along with the simple techniques mentioned in the last three steps edit the rest of the vertical paths roughly as shown in the second image. Thing don't have to look exactly like in the image, but make sure that you're wrapping your paths around the text.

Circuit Board Text Effect

Step 7

Now, a little tweak for the "C". Focus on this letter, pick the Ellipse Tool (L), create a 25px circle and place it as shown in the first image. Add a 1px stroke for this path and set its color at R=117 G=165 B=75. Keep focusing on this circle, switch to the Direct Selection Tool (A), select the right anchor point and simply hit the Delete key from your keyboard to remove it. Make sure that the Direct Selection Tool (A) remains active, select the two anchor points highlights in the second image and hit Control + J to connect them. Move up, select the two anchor points highlighted in the fourth image and hit Control + J. In the end things should look like in the sixth image.

Circuit Board Text Effect

Step 8

Select one of your thin path and go to Select > Same > Appearance to select all those thin paths. Once you have all these paths selected hit Control + G to Group them. Activate the Pixel Preview (Alt + Control + Y or View > Pixel Preview). Take closer look at one of those thin paths and you'll notice that things area bit pixelated. It's all because your paths are not perfectly aligned to the pixel grid. We'll take care of this issue in the next step.

Circuit Board Text Effect

Step 9

Make sure that your group of thin paths is still selected and go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Focus on the Move section, drag both sliders at 0.5px and click OK. Take a new look at your group and you'll notice that the paths are no longer pixelated. You can disable the Pixel Preview (Alt + Control + Y).

Circuit Board Text Effect

Step 10

For the following step you will need a grid every 1px, so go to Edit > Preferences > Guides & Grid and enter 1 in the Gridline every box. Pick the Ellipse Tool (L) and create a 3px circle. Add a 1px stroke for this tiny shape, set the color at R=117 G=165 B=75 and align it to outside. Multiply (Control + C > Control + F) this little circle and spread the copies as shown in the second image.

Circuit Board Text Effect

Step 11

Using the Ellipse Tool (L), create a new 3px circle, set the fill color at R=117 G=165 B=75 and place it as shown in the first image. Make sure that this new shape stays selected and go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Enter the properties shown in the left window (in the following image), click OK and go again to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Enter the properties shown in the right window (in the following image) and click OK.

Circuit Board Text Effect

Step 12

Using the Ellipse Tool (L), create a new 3px circle, set the fill color at R=117 G=165 B=75 and place it as shown in the first image. Make sure that this new shape stays selected and go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Enter the properties shown in the left window (in the following image), click OK and go again to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Enter the properties shown in the right window (in the following image) and click OK.

Circuit Board Text Effect

Step 13

Select all those 3px circles along with the group of thin paths and Group them (Control + G). Make sure that this new group is selected and go to Effect > Stylize > Drop Shadow. Enter the properties shown in the following image and click OK.

Circuit Board Text Effect

5. Create the Yellow Circuits

Step 1

Return to "gridline every 5px ", so simply go to Edit > Preferences > Guides & Grid and enter 5 in the Gridline every box. Using the Pen Tool (P), create a 25px, vertical path and place it as shown in the first image. Add a 1pt for this new path, set its color at R=165 G=155 B=55 and make sure that you have no color set for the fill. Make sure that your vertical path is still selected and go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Enter the properties shown in the following image and click OK. Duplicate this thin path (Control + C > Control + F), select the copy, drag it down and place it as shown in the third image.

Circuit Board Text Effect

Step 2

Make sure that both vertical paths made in the previous step are selected and go to Object > Expand Appearance. Move to the Layers panel and Ungroup (Shift + Control + G twice) the two resulting groups. Using the Direct Selection Tool (A) and the Pen Tool (P), edit these new paths roughly as shown in the following image.

Circuit Board Text Effect

Step 3

Select all the paths that have the stroke color set at R=165 G=155 B=55 (Select > Same > Appearance) and Group them (Control + G). Again, if you enable the Pixel Preview you will notice that these thin paths are a bit pixelated. Make sure that the group made in this step is selected and go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Focus on the Move section, drag both slider at 0.5px and click OK.

Circuit Board Text Effect

Step 4

Switch to "gridline every 1px", so go to Edit > Preferences > Guides & Grid and enter 1 in the Gridline every box. Pick the Rectangle Tool (M) and create a 3px square. Add a 1px stroke for this tiny shape, set the color at R=165 G=155 B=55 and align it to inside. Multiply this little square (Control + C > Control + F) and spread the copies as shown in the second image.

Circuit Board Text Effect

Step 5

Using the Ellipse Tool (L), create a 3px circle, set the fill color at R=65 G=155 B=55 and place it as shown in the first image. Make sure that this new shape stays selected and go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Enter the properties shown in the left window (in the following image), click OK and go again to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Enter the properties shown in the right window (in the following image) and click OK.

Circuit Board Text Effect

Step 6

Select all those 3px squares along with the 3px circle and the group of thin paths then Group them (Control + G). Make sure that this new group is selected and go to Effect > Stylize > Drop Shadow. Enter the properties shown in the following image and click OK.

Circuit Board Text Effect

10. Create the Chip and the Steel Pieces

Step 1

Focus on the Layers panel, select the 45px, black square and bring it to front (Shift + Control + ] ). Focus on the top, left corned of this dark shape, grab the Rectangle Tool (M) and create a 7 x 1px shape. Place it as shown in the second image, pick a random color for the fill and make sure that you have no color set for the stroke. Keep focusing on this tiny rectangle, replace the flat color used for the fill with the linear gradient shown below then go to Effect > Stylize > Rounded Corners. Enter a 0.5px Radius and click OK.

Circuit Board Text Effect

Step 2

Reselect that 7 x 1px rectangle, send it behind the black rectangle (Control + [ ) and go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Enter the properties shown in the left window (in the following image), click OK and go again to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Enter the properties shown in the right window (in the following image), click OK and go to Effect > Stylize > Drop Shadow. Enter the attributes shown below and click OK.

Circuit Board Text Effect

Step 3

Reselect your black square and focus on the Appearance panel. First, select the fill and replace the existing color with R=30 G=30 B=30. Next, add a 2pt stroke, set the color at R=40 G=40 B=40 and align it to inside. Keep focusing on the Appearance panel and add a second stroke for this square using that same Add New Stroke button. Select this new stroke, make it 1px wide, set the color at black and align it inside. Make sure that your entire path is selected (simply click on the "Path" piece of text from the top of the Appearance panel) and go to Effect > Stylize > Rounded Corners. Enter a 3px Radius and click OK.

Circuit Board Text Effect

Step 4

Make sure that your 45px square stays selected, focus on the Appearance panel and add a second fill using the Add New Fill button (pointed by the little, blue arrow in the following image). Select this new fill, drag it in the bottom of the Appearance panel, set the color at black, lower its Opacity to 10% and go to Effect > Path > Offset Path. Enter a 1px Offset and click OK. Return to the Appearance panel and add a third fill for this square. Drag it in the bottom of the Appearance panel, set the color at black, lower its Opacity to 5% and go to Effect > Path > Offset Path. Enter a 2px Offset, click OK and go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Enter the properties shown in the following image and click OK.

Get back to the Appearance panel and add a fourth fill for your square. Drag it in the bottom of the Appearance panel, set the color at black, lower its Opacity to 15% and go to Effect > Path > Offset Path. Enter a 2px Offset, click OK and go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Enter the properties shown in the following image, click OK and go to Effect > Blur > Gaussian Blur. Enter a 5px Radius and click OK.

Circuit Board Text Effect

Step 5

Using the Ellipse Tool (L), create a 25px square and place it as shown in the first image. Add a 7px stroke for this new shape, use any color, align it to inside, make sure that you don't have a color set for the fill and go to Object > Path > Outline Stroke. Select the resulting shape, set the fill color at R=30 G=30 B=30 and go to Effect > Stylize > Inner Glow. Enter the properties shown in the following image, click OK and go to Effect > Stylize > Drop Shadow. Enter the attributes shown below and click OK. Reselect the shape made in this step along with the 45px square and that tiny, 7 x 1px rectangle and Group them (Control + G).

Circuit Board Text Effect

Step 6

Reselect your 10 x 35px, black rectangle and bring it to front (Shift + Control + ] ). Next, you need to replace that black with a built-in linear gradient. Open the fly-out menu of the Swatches panel (Window > Swatches), go to Open Swatch Library > Gradients > Metal and new window with a bunch gradients will open. Make sure that your black rectangle is selected, focus on the Appearance panel and simply replace that black with the "Steel" linear gradient.

Circuit Board Text Effect

Step 7

Make sure that your 10 x 35px rectangle stays selected, focus o the Appearance panel and add a second fill. Drag it below the existing fill, set the color at black, lower its Opacity to 10% and go to Effect > Path > Offset Path. Enter a 1px Offset, click OK then return to the Appearance panel and add a new fill for your shapes. Select it, set the color at black, drag it in the bottom of the Appearance panel, lower its Opacity to 5% and go to Effect > Path > Offset Path. Enter a 2px Offset, click OK and go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Enter the properties shown in the following image, click OK and get back to the Appearance panel. Add a 1pt, black stroke for your rectangle, align it to inside and change its Blending Mode to Overlay. Keep focusing on the Appearance panel, select your entire path and go to Effect > Stylize > Rounded Corners. Enter a 2px Radius, click OK and go to Effect > Stylize > Drop Shadow. Enter the attributes shown in the following image and click OK.

Circuit Board Text Effect

Step 8

Finally, go to the Layers panel and simply remove that white piece of text. In the end things should look like in the second image.

Circuit Board 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.

Circuit Board Text Effect
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