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  1. Design & Illustration
  2. Halloween
Design

Create a Devilish Text Effect in Adobe Illustrator

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

In this tutorial, you'll create a devilish text effect in Adobe Illustrator. 

For starters you will learn how to create devil horns using some basic tools and vector shape-building techniques, as well as a simple blend plus some other effects and masking techniques. 

Using a free font, several built-in brushes, and the Appearance panel, along with a bunch of blending techniques, you will learn how to create the main text shape and how to add shading, highlights and subtle textures. 

Moving on, you will learn how to add a textured background using a simple rectangle, the Appearance panel, and some raster effects. And finally, taking full advantage of the Stroke panel and the Gradient panel, you will learn how to create the devil's tail using only one curly path.

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 and Height boxes, 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.

Enable the Grid (View > Show Grid) and then Snap to Grid (View > Snap to Grid). 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 those gridlines: the grid will make your work easier. 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.

setup grid

2. Create the Main Shapes for the Horn

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=39 G=170 B=225. Move to your artboard and simply create a 65 x 61 px shape.

create main horn shapes

Step 2

Make sure that the Ellipse Tool (L) is still active and replace the existing fill color with R=237 G=28 B=36. Create a 62 x 45 px shape and place it as shown in the first image. Switch to the Selection Tool (V) and select both shapes made so far. Open the Pathfinder panel (Window > Pathfinder) and simply click the Minus Front button. In the end things should look like in the second image.

create main horn shapes

Step 3

Set the fill color at R=0 G=161 B=75, reselect the Ellipse Tool (L), create a 58 x 52 px shape, and place it as shown in the first image. Replace the existing fill color with R=237 G=28 B=36, then create a 52 x 46 px shape and place it as shown in the second image.

create main horn shapes

Step 4

Using the Selection Tool (V), select your green and red shapes, focus on the Pathfinder panel and simply click the Minus Front button.

create main horn shapes

Step 5

Set the fill color at R=247 G=148 B=30, reselect the Ellipse Tool (L), create an 80 px circle and place it as shown in the following image.

create main horn shapes

Step 6

Make sure that your orange circle is selected, and make a copy in front (Control-C, Control-F). Select this copy along with your green shape, and click the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Simply hit Shift-Control-G to Ungroup the resulting group of shapes. Select the tiniest green shape and get rid of it using the Delete button from your keyboard. In the end things should look like in the third image.

create main horn shapes

Step 7

Select the remaining orange circle along with your blue shape and click the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Ungroup the resulting group of shapes (Shift-Control-G), then select the tinier blue shape and remove it.

create main horn shapes

Step 8

Focus on your green shape and grab the Direct Selection Tool (A). Select the top anchor point, then move to the top bar and enter 0.4 px in the Corners box.

This feature is only available for CC users. The best solution to replace this effect would be the Round Any Corner script that can found 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 that anchor point and go to File > Scripts > Other Script. Open the Round Any Corner Script, enter a 7 px radius and click OK. The end result might look a bit different, but it's really not that noticeable. 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 main horn shapes

Step 9

Focus on your blue shape and reselect the Direct Selection Tool (A). Select the top anchor point return to the top bar and enter 1 px in the Corners box.

create main horn shapes

3. Create the First Horn

Step 1

Select your blue shape and replace the existing fill color with R=169 G=124 B=80, then select the green shape and replace the existing fill color with R=60 G=36 B=21.

Focus on your Toolbar and simply click on the Blend Tool to open the Blend Options window. Select Specified Steps from the Spacing drop-down menu, enter 75 in that white box, and click the OK button. Reselect the two shapes made so far, and simply hit Alt-Control-B (or go to Object > Blend > Make) to create a new blend. In the end things should look like in the second image.

create first horn

Step 2

Focus on the Layers panel (Window > Layers) and open your blend. Select the bottom shape (the one with a dark brown fill color) and make a copy in front (Control-C, Control-F). Select this copy and drag it outside the blend, in the top of the Layers panel. Make sure that this copy is still selected and replace the existing fill color with a simple blue (R=39 G=170 B=225).

create first horn

Step 3

Disable the Snap to Grid (View > Snap to Grid) then go to Edit > Preferences > General and make sure that the Keyboard Increment is set at 1 px.

Make sure that your blue 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 and 1 px to the left using the arrow buttons from your keyboard. Reselect both copies made in this step and click the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Ungroup the resulting group (Shift-Control-G), remove the tinier shape then select the remaining one and focus on the Appearance panel (Window > Appearance). Set the fill color at black (R=0 G=0 B=0) then simply click on that Opacity piece of text to open the Transparency fly-out panel. Lower the Opacity to 10% and change the Blending Mode to Multiply.

create first horn

Step 4

Reselect your blue shape and make a new copy in front (Control-C, Control-F). Select this copy, move it 1 px up and 1 px to the left then duplicate it (Control-F, Control-F). Select this new copy and move it 2 px up and 2 px to the left. Reselect both copies made in this step and click the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Ungroup the resulting group (Shift-Control-G), remove the tinier shape, and then select the remaining one and set its fill color at R=96 G=57 B=19.

create first horn

Step 5

Reselect your blue shape and make a new copy in front (Control-C, Control-F). Select this copy along with the brown shape made in the previous step, and click the Intersect button from the Pathfinder panel. Make sure that the resulting shape stays selected, lower its Opacity to 70% and go to Effect > Blur > Gaussian Blur. Enter a 2 px Radius and click OK.

create first horn

Step 6

Make sure that your blue shape stays selected and focus on the Appearance panel. Select the existing fill and change its Blending Mode to Soft Light. Then open the Gradient panel (Window > Gradient) and simply click on the gradient thumbnail to replace the existing fill color with the default black-to-white linear gradient. Keep focusing on your Gradient panel, set the angle at 90 degrees, and then move to the gradient colors. Select the left slider and set the color at black. Then select the right slider, set the color at R=237 G=28 B=36 and enter 0 in that Opacity box. Keep in mind that the yellow zero from the Gradient images stands for Opacity percentage.

create first horn

Step 7

Make sure that the shape edited in the previous step is still selected, focus on the Appearance panel, and add a second fill using the Add New Fill button. Select this new fill, set the color at black, lower its Opacity to 30%, and change the Blending Mode to Overlay. Then go to Effect > Artistic > Film Grain. Enter the properties shown in the following image, click OK and then go to Effect > Sketch > Torn Edges. Enter the properties shown in the following image and click OK.

create first horn

Step 8

Return to the Layers panel, focus on your blend, and this time duplicate the top shape (the one with a beige fill color). Select this copy and drag it outside your blend, right above it.

Make sure that this new shape stays selected, focus on the Appearance panel and select the existing fill. Replace the existing fill color with white, lower its Opacity to 70% and change the Blending Mode to Color Dodge. Then go to Effect > Path > Offset Path, enter a -2 px Offset and click OK. In Effect > Blur > Gaussian Blur, enter a 2 px Radius and click OK.

create first horn

Step 9

Select all the shapes made so far and simply hit Control-G to Group them. Next, you'll need a simply masking technique to get rid of those pixelated edges.

Focus on the Layers panel, open your group, focus on the blend, and duplicate that dark brown shape (Control-C, Control-F). Select the copy, replace the existing fill color with white (R=255 G=255 B=255), and then simply drag it outside the group, at the top of the Layers panel.

create first horn

Step 10

Reselect your white shape along with the group, open the Transparency panel (Window > Transparency), and simply click the Make Mask button. In the end things should look like in the second image.

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. Move to the Layers panel, double click on the name of your masked group, and rename it "HORN".

create first horn

4. Create the Main Text Shape and Place the Horn

Step 1

Set the fill color at R=145 G=12 B=8 and grab the Type Tool (T). Simply click on your artboard and add the "DEVIL" piece of text. Use the Fatso Caps font and set the size at 120 px.

Make sure that your text stays selected, and simply hit Shift-Control-O (or go to Type > Create Outlines) to turn it into paths. Ungroup the resulting group of shapes (Shift-Control-G), then turn those letter shapes into a simple compound path using the Control-8 keyboard shortcut (or Object > Compound Path > Make). Move to the Layers panel, simply double click on this new compound path and rename it "DEVIL". We'll use this compound path plenty of times in the following steps, and naming it will make it much easier for you to find it.

create text place horn

Step 2

Reselect your "HORN" group and place it roughly as shown in the first image. Make sure that it stays selected and go to Object > Transform > Reflect. Check the Vertical box, then simply click the Copy button to create a horizontally-flipped copy. Select this copy, drag it to the left, and place it roughly as shown in the third image.

create text place horn

5. Add Shading and Highlights for Your Main Text Shape

Step 1

Select your "DEVIL" compound path and go to Object > Path > Offset Path. Enter a -3 px Offset and click OK. Select the resulting compound path and make a copy in front (Control-C, Control-F). Select this copy and simply move it 1 px down using the down arrow button from your keyboard. Reselect both shapes made in this step and click the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Turn the resulting group of shapes into a simple compound path (Control-8) and set its fill color at white.

add shading highlights text

Step 2

Reselect the white compound path made in the previous step, lower its Opacity to 70% and go to Effect > Blur > Gaussian Blur. Enter a 7 px Radius and click OK.

add shading highlights text

Step 3

Select your "DEVIL" compound path 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 and click the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Turn the resulting group of shapes into a compound path (Control-8), set the fill color at black, lower its Opacity to 30%, and change the Blending Mode to Soft Light.

add shading highlights text

Step 4

Select your "DEVIL" compound path and make two copies in front (Control-C, Control-F, Control-F). Select the top copy and move it 4 px up. Reselect both copies and click the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Turn the resulting group of shapes into a compound path (Control-8), set the fill color at black, lower its Opacity to 20% and change the Blending Mode to Soft Light.

add shading highlights text

Step 5

Select your "DEVIL" compound path and make two copies in front (Control-C, Control-F, Control-F). Select the top copy and move it 9 px up. Reselect both copies and click the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Turn the resulting group of shapes into a compound path (Control-8), set the fill color at black, lower its Opacity to 10%, and change the Blending Mode to Soft Light.

add shading highlights text

Step 6

Select your "DEVIL" compound path, and go to Object > Path > Offset Path. Enter a -1 px Offset and click OK. Select the resulting compound path and make a copy in front (Control-C, Control-F). Select this copy and simply move it 1 px down. Reselect both shapes made in this step and click the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Turn the resulting group of shapes into a simple compound path (Control-8), set the fill color at black, lower its Opacity to 30%, and change the Blending Mode to Soft Light.

add shading highlights text

Step 7

Reselect your "DEVIL" compound path and make two copies in front (Control-C, Control-F, Control-F). Select the top copy and move it 2 px down. Reselect both copies and click the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Turn the resulting group of shapes into a compound path (Control-8), set its fill color at black, change the Blending Mode to Overlay and go to Effect > Blur > Gaussian Blur. Enter a 3 px Radius and click OK.

add shading highlights text

Step 8

Reselect your "DEVIL" compound path 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 and click the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Turn the resulting group of shapes into a compound path (Control-8), set the fill color at black, lower its Opacity to 50% and change the Blending Mode to Soft Light.

add shading highlights text

Step 9

Select your "DEVIL" compound path and go to Object > Path > Offset Path. Enter a -4 px Offset and click OK. Select the resulting compound path and make a copy in front (Control-C, Control-F). Select this copy and simply move it 5 px down. Reselect both shapes made in this step and click the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Turn the resulting group of shapes into a simple compound path (Control-8) and set its fill color at white.

add shading highlights text

Step 10

Reselect the white compound path made in the previous step, lower its Opacity to 60%, change the Blending Mode to Overlay and go to Effect > Blur > Gaussian Blur. Enter a 5 px Radius and click OK.

add shading highlights text

Step 11

Reselect all the shapes made so far (except the two "HORN" groups) and Group them (Control + G). Move to the Layers panel and simply rename this new group "TEXT". Open it and duplicate your "DEVIL" compound path (Control-C, Control-F). Select this copy, replace the existing fill color with white and drag it outside the group, at the top of the Layers panel. Reselect this white compound path along with your "TEXT" group and simply click the Make Mask button from the Transparency panel. In the end things should look like in the fourth image.

add shading highlights text

Step 12

Focus on the Layers panel, open your "TEXT" group and duplicate that "DEVIL" compound path (Control-C, Control-F). Select this copy and drag it outside the group, at the top of the Layers panel.

Focus on the two "HORN" groups, open those blends and duplicate the dark brown shapes. Select these two copies and drag them to the top of the Layers panel.

Reselect all three copies made in this step and click the Unite button from the Pathfinder pane. Make sure that the resulting group of shapes is selected, turn it into a compound path, and set the fill color at R=145 G=12 B=8. Move to the Layers panel and simply rename this new compound path "Shadow".

add shading highlights text

Step 13

Make sure that your "Shadow" compound path stays selected, send it to back (Shift-Control-[ ) then 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 four Drop Shadow effects shown below.

add shading highlights text

6. Create the Background

Step 1

Pick the Rectangle Tool (M) and simply click on your artboard to open the Rectangle window. Enter 600 in the Width and Height boxes, then click the OK button. Make sure that the resulting shape stays selected, send it to back (Shift-Control-[ ), and set the fill color at R=145 G=12 B=8. Move to the Layers panel and simply rename this new rectangle "Background".

Next, you will need to center your "Background" shape, 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), make sure that your shape is selected, 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.

create background

Step 2

Make sure that your "Background" rectangle is still selected, focus on the Appearance panel, and add a second fill using that same Add New Fill button. Select the new fill, lower its Opacity to 50%, and add the radial gradient shown in the following image. Remember that the yellow zero from the Gradient image stands for Opacity percentage, and use the Gradient Tool (G) to stretch your radial gradient as shown in the following image.

create background

Step 3

Make sure that your "Background" rectangle is still selected and add a third fill. Select it, set the color to black, lower its Opacity to 5%, change the Blending Mode to Color Burn, and go to Effect > Artistic > Film Grain. Enter the properties shown in the following image and click OK.

create background

Step 4

Make sure that your "Background" rectangle is still selected and add a fourth fill. Select it, set the color at black, lower its Opacity to 7%, change the Blending Mode to Color Burn, and go to Effect > Sketch > Note Paper. Enter the properties shown in the following image, click OK, and go to Effect > Artistic > Film Grain. Enter the properties shown in the following image and click OK.

create background

7. Add Some New Fills and Stroke for Your Main Text Shape

Step 1

Focus on your "TEXT" group, reselect that "DEVIL" compound path, focus on the Appearance panel, and add a second fill using that same Add New Fill button. Select this new fill, add the linear gradient shown in the following image and go to Effect > Path > Offset Path. Enter a -10 px Offset, click OK and go to Effect > Blur > Gaussian Blur. Enter a 4 px Radius and click OK.

add fills strokes

Step 2

Make sure that your "DEVIL" compound path stays selected, focus on the Appearance panel, and add a third fill. Select it, lower the Opacity to 40%, and add the linear gradient shown in the following image. Don't forget that the yellow zero from the Gradient image stands for Opacity percentage.

add fills strokes

Step 3

For the following steps you will need some built-in brushes. First, open the Brushes panel (Window > Brushes). Next, open the fly-out panel of the Brushes panel and go to Open Brush Library > Artistic > Artistic_ChalkCharcoalPencil, and a new panel with a bunch of art brushes will open.

Make sure that your "DEVIL" compound path is selected, and focus on the Appearance panel. Select the existing stroke, lower its Opacity to 30%, change the Blending Mode to Soft Light, and simply add that "Chalk" art brush.

add fills strokes

Step 4

Focus on the bottom side of that panel with the set of art brushes, and simply click the right arrow button to move to the Artistic_Ink set of brushes.

Make sure that your "DEVIL" compound path is selected, focus on the Appearance panel, and add a second stroke using the Add New Stroke button. Select this new stroke, change its Blending Mode to Soft Light, and simply add the Ink Drop scatter brush.

add fills strokes

Step 5

Return to the bottom side of that panel with the set of brushes and click the right arrow button until you reach the Artistic_Watercolor set of brushes.

Make sure that your "DEVIL" compound path is selected, focus on the Appearance panel, and add a third stroke using that same Add New Stroke button. Select this new stroke, lower its Opacity to 50%, change the Blending Mode to Color Burn, and simply add the Watercolor Stroke 1 art brush.

add fills strokes

8. Add a Bunch of Subtle Shapes and Paths

Step 1

Enable the Snap to Grid (View > Snap to Grid). Using the Ellipse Tool (L), create a 5 px circle, a 3 px circle and a 2 px circle, and place these tiny shapes roughly as shown in the following image. Make sure that these three shapes are selected, set the fill color at black, then lower the Opacity to 30% and change the Blending Mode to Soft Light. Finally, Group (Control-G) these little circles.

add subtle shapes

Step 2

Multiply the group of circles made in the previous step, spread the copies roughly as shown in the following image, and randomly rotate them.

add subtle shapes

Step 3

Disable the Snap to Grid (View > Snap to Grid). Return to that panel of brushes and hit the left arrow button until you get to the Artistic_Paintbrush section.

Grab the Brush Tool (B), select the Dry Brush 7 art brush, and draw some black paths along those narrow gaps from your letters. Once you're done, select all these paths and Group them (Control-G). Make sure that this new group is selected, lower its Opacity to 30%, and change the Blending Mode to Soft Light.

add subtle shapes

Step 4

Reselect your "DEVIL" compound path, make a copy in front (Control-C, Control-F), and drag it to the top of the Layers panel. Make sure that this fresh copy is selected and simply hit the D button from your keyboard to replace the existing Appearance attributes with the default ones (white fill and 1pt, black stroke). Remove the black stroke and keep the white fill.

Reselect this white compound path, along with the group of black brushes made in the previous step. Focus on the Transparency panel, and simply click the Make Mask button. In the end things should look like in the second image.

add subtle shapes

9. Create the Devil's Tail

Step 1

Using the Pen Tool (P) or the Brush Tool (B), create a curly path as shown in the first image and focus on the Appearance panel. Add a black stroke, make sure that there's no fill color, and then move to the Layers panel and drag this path below that "Shadow" compound path. Keep focusing on the Layers panel, and simply rename the path made in this step "Tail".

create tail

Step 2

Make sure that your "Tail" path stays selected, focus on the Appearance panel, and simply click on that "Stroke" piece of text to open the Stroke fly-out panel.

Set the Weight at 6 px, then open the right Arrowheads drop-down menu and select Arrow 2. Keep focusing on the Stroke panel, enter 25% in both Scale boxes, check the Extend arrow tip beyond the end of path button, and select Width Profile 5 from the Profile drop-down menu.

Return to the Appearance panel, make sure that your stroke stays selected, and move to the Gradient panel. Add the linear gradient shown in the following image and check the Apply gradient across stroke button. Keep in mind that the blue number from the Gradient image stands for Location percentage. You can easily add a new gradient slider for your gradient simply by clicking on the gradient bar.

create tail

Step 3

Make sure that your "Tail" path stays selected, focus on the Appearance panel, select the existing stroke, and simply duplicate it using the Duplicate Selected Item button.

Select this new stroke, lower its Opacity to 50%, change the Blending Mode to Soft Light, and move to the Gradient panel. Check the Apply gradient within stroke button, and then replace the existing linear gradient with the one shown in the following image. Don't forget that the yellow zero from the Gradient image stands for Opacity percentage while the blue number stands for Location percentage.

create tail

Step 4

Reselect your "Tail" path, focus on the Appearance panel, and make sure that the entire path is selected (simply click on the "Path" piece of text from the top of the Appearance panel). Then add the five Drop Shadow effects shown in the following image (Effect > Stylize > Drop Shadow).

create tail

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 result
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