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Create a Vibrant 3D Pixel Type Treatment

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This post is part of a series called Vector Text Effects.
Create a Swirly Type Treatment
How to Create a Trendy Retro Type Treatment

In this tutorial, I will show you how to create a fun 3D pixel font type treatment. Using a free font, gradients, and Illustrator 3D filter, you will easily create a type treatment that you can apply to many other fonts.

Video Tutorial

The VECTORTUTS editor Sean Hodge has created this video tutorial to compliment this text + image tutorial.


Step 1

Download the 04b_03 font from Dafont and install it on your system.

Step 1

Step 2

Create a new document and type out some text with the Text Tool (T) and apply the 04b_03 font. Once typed out, outline the text by going to Type > Create Outlines (Shift + Command + O).

Step 2

Step 3

Change the color of the type to an orange so we can see the shading effect when we use the Extrude and Bevel Filter, but we will be changing the color later.

Step 3

Step 4

With the outline text selected go to Filter > Effect > 3D > Extrude and Bevel to open up the 3D Extrude & Bevel Options dialog. Once in the dialog, keep the default measurements except the Extrude Depth. The default setting should go as follows: -18 for the Rotation around the X axis (red arrow), -26 for the Rotation around the Y axis (green arrow), 8 for the Rotation around the Z axis (blue arrow), 0 for perspective, and 50 for the Extrude Depth. Once the settings are set to the default, change the Extrude Depth to 40.

Step 4

Step 5

With the 3D text selected, go to Object > Expand Appearance.

Step 5

Step 6

Use you Magic Wand Tool (Y) and click on the lightest orange color. This will select all the objects containing the lightest color. Change the fill of the selected orange to a Linear Gradient from the Gradient Panel. Make the first swatch in the Gradient Slider an orange color and the second swatch a darker orange.

Step 6

Step 7

Next we are going to adjust the gradient on each individual letter with the Gradient Tool (G). Start by select the shapes of the first letter with the Direct Selection Tool (A). If you use the Selection Tool (V), you will select all the text, we just want the to select the gradient in the first letter. With the Gradient Tool (G), click at the top of the letter and drag to the bottom of the letter, making the lighter orange at the top of the letter.

Step 7

Step 8

Repeat the previous step to all the letters of your type.

Step 8

Step 9

Use your Magic Wand (Y) and select the the second lightest orange.

Step 9

Step 10

Fill the selection with a Linear Gradient, and make sure the first swatch in the Gradient Slider is the dark orange from the previous gradient and the second swatch is a dark orange-red color.

Step 10

Step 11

With the new Linear Gradient still selected, change the Location in the Gradient Panel to 180 so the darkest part of the gradient is on the left side of the letters.

Step 11

Step 12

Use the Magic Wand and select the last dark orange.

Step 12

Step 13

Fill the selection with a Linear Gradient, and make sure the the first swatch in the Gradient Slider is the dark orange-red from the previous gradient and the second swatch is a darker orange red color.

Step 13

Step 14

With the new Linear Gradient still selected, change the Location in the Gradient Panel to 90 so the darkest part of the gradient is at the top side of the letters.

Step 14

Step 15

Now that the type is done, we can start looking at the background. Create a rectangle with the Rectangle Tool (M) that is the size of your document and place ti behind all your other artwork.

Step 15

Step 16

Fill the rectangle with a Radial Gradient from the Gradient Panel, and change the first swatch in the Gradient Slider to a light cyan color and the second swatch to a cyan color.

Step 16

Step 17

With the Gradient Tool, adjust the Radial Gradient by clicking close to the first letter of the text and drag right to the center of the document.

Step 17

Step 18

Create an ellipse with the Ellipse Tool that is 730 px by 730 px with no fill and a white stroke, then place the center of the circle over the first letter of your text. Once placed, send the artwork behind the text.

Step 18

Step 19

With the ellipse selected, change the Stroke to 800 pt from the Stroke Panel. While still in the Stroke Panel, check the Dashed Line check box and change the Dash to 50 pt, giving you a nice radial burst.

Step 19

Step 20

With the ellipse still selected, change the Transparency to 20% from the Transparency Panel.

Step 20

Step 21

Now we can start creating the cloud shapes. With the Ellipse Tool (L), create ten to fifteen ellipses overlapping each other to create a cloud shape.

Step 21

Step 22

Send the set of ellipse behind the type, Copy (Command + C) and Paste (Command + V) the ellipses and place them around the text.

Step 22

Step 23

Create another set of clouds with ellipses and send them behind the original clouds.

Step 23

Step 24

With the new set of clouds selected, fill them with a Linear Blend with the first swatch white and the second a light blue.

Step 24

Step 25

With the Gradient Tool Adjust the gradient so the white is at the top of the clouds.

Step 25

Step 26

Copy (Command + C) and Paste (Command + V) the gradient clouds a couple more times around the first set of clouds.

Step 26

Step 27

Almost done, but let's add some shadows to the text. Create an ellipse that is 70 px by 70 px. Fill the ellipse with a Radial Gradient, and make the first swatch if the gradient a dark cyan and the second swatch white.

Step 27

Step 28

With the Selection Tool (V), squish the ellipse to about a third of its original size and place it behind the bottom of the first letter.

Step 28

Step 29

Copy (Command + C) and Paste (Command + V) the ellipse under every letter. If the shadows overlap, chose Multiply from the menu. All done!

Step 29

Final Image

Below is the final type treatment. I suggest trying this treatment with other fonts, or draw your own pixel letters to experiment!

Final Image

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