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Tools & Tips

Quick Tip: How to Create a Mosaic Text Effect

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In the following quick tip you will learn how to create a Mosaic text effect. It all start with the background. A simple rectangle filled with a flat color, a radial gradient plus a Film Grain effect. For the text you will use a nice, free font. After you expand it you will add the final colors and some basic effect. Give it a try and you might learn some new tricks about Illustrator's 3D options. The final effect is easily edited so you can add your favorite colors or effects.


Step 1

Create a 700 by 300px, RGB document. As I said in the introduction, it all starts with the background. Pick the Rectangle Tool (M), create a shape the size of your artboard and fill it with the R=241 G=242 B=242.


Step 2

Reselect the shape created in the previous step and go to the Appearance panel (Window > Appearance). Select the existing fill and click on the Duplicate Selected Item button from the Appearance panel. This will add second fill for your shape. Select it and fill it with the radial gradient shown below. Have a closer look at the gradient image and you'll notice a yellow zero. It stands for opacity percentage. This means that you need to select that gradient slider and lower its opacity to 0%.


Step 3

Reselect the shape edited in the previous step and add a third fill. Make it black, lower its opacity to 3% and go to Effect > Artistic > Film Grain. Enter the data shown below and click OK.Now, this will be the background. You won't need to edit or select this shape. So, go to the Layers panel and lock it to make sure that you won't accidentally select/move it.


Step 4

Now, let's add the text. Pick the Type Tool (T), click on your artboard and enter a black text. Use the Arcade font with a size of 200pt and set the leading at 130pt. Select this text and go to Object > Expand Appearance. This will create a new group in your Layers panel. Open it and you will find a set of simple compound path (one for every letter). You need to expand these paths even more, you must be able to select the black, squares one by one. Reselect your group, go to the Pathfinder panel (Window > Pathfinder) and click on the Divide button. Have a new look in your Layers panel and you will find a group with a bunch of black squares. Select this group and ungroup it (Shift + Command + G).


Step 5

Next, you need to edit the shapes created in the previous step. Pick the Selection Tool and focus on the squares that make up the first letter. Select the top, left square and fill it with white. Now, move diagonally, select the next square and fill it white white. Repeat these techniques for the rest of the squares. Make sure that you always start with the top, left square when you move to a new letter. In the end your entire text should have the look of a chess table. Next, you need to select all the white shapes. Here a simple way. Select one of these white shapes and go to Select > Same > Fill Color. This will select all the shapes with a white fill. Group them (Command + G). Use the same options to select all the black squares. Replace the black with R=28 G=117 B=188 then group them (Command + G).


Step 6

Select the group with the blue squares and go to Object > Path > Offset Path. Enter a -2 Offset, click OK and immediately hit Command + G. This will group the resulting shapes. Go to the Layers panel, open the group with the blue shapes and you will find a new group. Select it, move it outside then reselect the group created in the previous step and delete it.


Step 7

Select the group with the white squares and go to Object > Path > Offset Path. Enter a -1 Offset, click OK and hit Command + G. This will group the resulting shapes. Again, this will create a new group inside the main group. Go to the Layers panel, select this new group, move it outside then reselect the group created in the fifth step and delete it.


Step 8

Go to the Layers panel and open the white squares group. Select one of these shapes and go to Effect > 3D > Extrude & Bevel. Enter the data shown below and click OK. Reselect the rest of the white shapes and click on Shift + Command + E. This will add the same 3D effect for the selected shapes.


Step 9

Go to the Layers panel, select the white squares group and go to Effect > Stylize > Drop Shadow. Enter the data shown below image #1 and click OK. Make sure that the group is still selected and make a copy in front (Command + C > Command + F). Select this new group and go to the Appearance panel. Open the existing Drop Shadow effect, enter the data shown below image #2 and click OK.


Step 10

Return to the Layers panel and open the blue squares group. Select one of these shapes and go to Effect > 3D > Extrude & Bevel. Enter the data shown below and click OK. Reselect the other blue shapes and click on Shift + Command + E.


Step 11

Go to the Layers panel, select the blue squares group and go to Effect > Stylize > Drop Shadow. Enter the data shown below image #1 and click OK. Make sure that the group is still selected and make a copy in front (Command + C > Command + F). Select this new group and go to the Appearance panel. Open the existing Drop Shadow effect, enter the data shown below image #2, click OK and you're done.


Conclusion

Now your work is done. Here is how it should look.

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