In this tutorial you will learn how to create colorful 3D plastic letters using the 3D Extrude & Bevel effect and also an all purpose plastic look that you can save in the Graphic Styles and use it in other projects.
Open a new document. Take the Type Tool (T) and type the text using a font called Anja Eliane that you can find here. When you are done go to the Object menu, select Expand then Ungroup the letters.
Next draw a square using the Rectangle Tool (M). The size and the fill color are not important at this point. Go to Effect menu > 3D > Extrude & Bevel and apply the settings you see below. To create an interesting look for the letters choose Rolling as the Bevel shape.
Now you need to lighten the left side because it is too dark for a plastic look. Having the square selected go to the Appearance Panel and double click on the 3D effect applied to open the 3D Extrude & Bevel Options window once more. Click on the "More Options" button to see the entire dialog. Add a new light then drag and move it under the first one like in the image below.
Select the square with the 3D effect applied and from the Appearance Panel drag the thumbnail into the Graphic Styles Panel to save it. Now take each letter and apply this style but as you do, you might notice that some letters don't look too good. If this happened or if you faced this problem another time when you worked with the 3D effects and you didn't know why, I will show you how to fix it.
The problem is that there are way too many anchor points on the paths. You can reduce them by using the Simplify option. Select each letter then go to Object menu > Path > Simplify, apply the values shown below. You can see the difference the settings make by comparing the letters in the image below.
You can apply 3D style once more and your letters should look like in the next image. If you still see some problems you can use the Delete Anchor Point Tool to manually remove the point that is causing the problem.
Now that you have all the letters looking smooth and perfect it's time to color them to make them more attractive. You can see below the fill colors that I used but you can choose any colors that you want. You can also rotate them but this is optional. Open again the 3D Extrude & Bevel Options window and there change the rotation values like shown under each letter.
Next let's create the all purpose plastic look. First draw a square, any size and fill it with the linear gradient shown below. Change the angle value to 145 degrees. Go to the Appearance Panel, open the drop-down menu and choose Add New Fill. Use the same gradient just change the angle value back to 0 degrees. Set the Blending mode to Difference but only for this second fill.
Select again Add New Fill and change the gradient as shown in the right having a -45 degrees angle value. This gradient is called Gray Linear Gradient and you should have it in the Swatches Panel. Set the Blending mode to Difference.
Now go to Effect menu > Artistic > Plastic Wrap and apply the values shown. At this point your square should look like the one below:
Next go to Effect menu > Stylize > Feather and apply a 7 px Radius value. Set the Blending mode to Luminosity and reduce the Opacity to 60%. Before you continue make sure that all the attributes are in the correct order and if not move them like in the image. You can now save the plastic style by dragging the thumbnail into the Graphic Styles Panel.
Select the letters and from the Object menu choose Expand Appearance. Use the Direct Selection Tool (A) to select only the front paths and recolor them. In the next image you can see all the gradients that I used.
All that is left to do is to apply the plastic style saved. I will show you how to do that using the letter "S" as an example. Select again with the Direct Selection Tool (A) the path you colored earlier then Copy and Paste it in front. Go to the Layers Panel and drag this path out of its group, above it then Ungroup. Now you can apply to this path the plastic style from the Graphic Styles Panel and you are done. Do the same for the other letters and they should now look like the ones below.
Here is the final image with the 3D plastic letters and a matching background. I hope you enjoyed this tut. Share your thoughts and creations in the comments section below.