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Create a Sticky Summer Typography Printable Poster in Illustrator

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Read Time: 10 min
This post is part of a series called Summer in Session!.
Create a Series of Colorful Vector Starfish in Adobe Illustrator

In this tutorial I would like to show you a few techniques on how to create a typography poster perfect for closing of summer. We'll be editing a pre-made font, adjusting a pre-made pattern and using quick and easy techniques to turn a simple illustration into a beautiful poster.

1. Set Up Your Document

We will be creating a standard 18 x 24in poster. Let's begin by creating a New document at that size.

When creating the document be sure to change the Document Profile to Print and adjust the units to Inches and ensure the Color Mode is set to CMYK.

Since our background design goes to the edge of the paper, this poster requires a bleed. The bleed margin adds an extra 0.25in on all four sides making our document 18.5 x 24.5in overall. If this poster had white edges, it would not require a bleed margin. Our overall design won't go too close to the edge of the paper so we won't need to worry about a safety area around the inside of the Artboard. Just note, if you plan on adding extra details near the edges of the Artboard it would be best to make them at least 0.25in in from the edge.


2. Create a Color Palette

Step 1

With the Artboard complete let's create our color palette that we'll be working off of throughout the piece. With the Rectangle Tool (M) draw three squares side by side leaving about the same amount of space between them and fill them with the following colors. Because our typography piece is summer themed I thought I'd choose muted tones indicative of the ocean. So one will be a sort of sea foam blue/green color, another will be reminiscent of the color of sand, and the last will be a coral (or starfish) color


Step 2

With all three of these squares selected go to Object > Blend > Blend Options and enter the following information. Then visit Object > Blend > Make to create the blend between the objects.

We should now have seven harmonious colors. that will blend well with one another because they pick up colors. from each other through the blend.


3. Make a Background

Step 1

Let's now create the background layer that our text will sit on. Start by moving our blend off to the side of the Artboard so it's not in our way. Next, select the Rectangle Tool (M) and create a rectangle that is the same size as out Bleed area (red outline around Artboard).


Step 2

Adjust the fill color to the middle sand color we blended earlier. I found this a bit too dark for our background but I still love what it did for the blend of the other colors. so I'll leave the blend how it is but lighten this color for the overall background.


Step 3

A plain background color is nice but I want to give it some extra texture. To that end we'll be adding a customized pattern to this shape. We'll be using the same technique I showed you in my previous tutorial entitled Create On-Trend Flat Type with a Nautical Theme in Adobe Illustrator in section 3 steps 1 through 4.

Begin by navigating to the Swatches panel (Window > Swatches) and choose the button in the top right of that panel that looks like a down facing arrow with horizontal lines next to it and select Open Swatch Library > Patterns > Decorative > Decorative_Classic. From this window drag the "Waves Smooth" pattern to your Artboard avoiding the rectangle shape you created.

Double-click on the pattern grouping and select only the wavy black lines and change the stroke color to white then drag the grouping to your Swatches panel to save the new swatch.


Step 4

With the background shape selected you can click to add a new fill using the Appearance panel and choose the new pattern swatch we just created. Then adjust the Blending Mode and Opacity as seen below.

Right-click on the object and choose Transform > Scale. Ensure only the "Pattern" option is selected then scale it up to 250% so you can actually see it on our object.


Step 5

To finish it off let's add a faux fade to this pattern. Create another fill layer in the Appearance panel and add a gradient to it as seen below. We'll be using our flat background color but adjusting the opacity of the gradient so the pattern fades in at the bottom but is more hidden near the top.


4. Create the Text

Step 1

We'll be modifying a pre made font called "WhoopAss". You can download it from Font Palace for free.

With our font selected let's type out our phrase. We'll be using a Nat King Cole classic "Lazy Hazy Crazy Days of Summer" with the following information selected.


Step 2

At this point we would normally use the Illustrator kerning features to adjust the text but because we need to alter some of the letter shapes anyway we'll just do this while the letters are shapes rather than text. With the type selected right-click and choose Create Outlines. You can now Ungroup (Command + Shift + G) the letter shapes.


Step 3

Switch to the Selection Tool (V) and adjust the spaces between the letters. Don't worry about the words being centered at this time. Once we have the letters spaced correctly we can rectify this. Feel free to ignore the "of" text. This was just a placement to provide the proper line spacing we'll need after we create our own custom text for this.

Pay close attention to some of the letter shapes. If you notice the letter "Y" is a bit taller than the other letters. You will want to shorten this letter to be in line with the others. I also don't want to space the letters too far apart. Our final effect will have a "sticky" quality to it so we want the letters fairly close. Take a look below to see how I've adjusted mine.


Step 4

After you have the spacing to your liking, Group (Command + G) the letters together by word. Once grouped visit the Align panel (Window > Align) and select the Horizontal Align button to properly center align the words to the page.


Step 5

As I mentioned, we won't need the "of" text so let's go ahead and create our own. Select the Ellipse Tool (L) and create a perfect circle that is 2.4433 x 2.4433in and center it where the word "of" used to be.


Step 6

For this next step you'll want to zoom in to the circle so you can work better. Enable the Pen Tool (P) and using some Primary School knowledge draw the word "of" in cursive so it fits within this circle. Feel free to let the letter "f" touch the edge of the circle. We want this to feel fluid and rounded so we'll be using a nice thick border with a Stroke Weight of 15px and rounded Cap and Corner.

If you are having difficulty drawing the letters outright, you may have better luck getting the overall word with the Pen Tool (P) then switching to the Direct Select Tool (A) and fine tuning the individual anchor points and handles.


Step 7

With the path we just drew selected, visit Object > Expand to convert the path to a shape. Now select the underlining circle shape as well and select the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel.

This will unfortunately leave us with several grouped shapes due to the loop of the "f" and the "o". To rectify this go to Object > Compound Path > Make to make it one shape.


Step 8

We're looking good so far! Let's add some color to the text. Select the first word grouping and using the Eyedropper Tool (I) click on the coral color from the blend we made earlier for our color palette.

Do this for the remaining words using the remaining colors. from that blend. Be sure to skip over the middle 'sand' color since we are using a variation of this for our background.


5. Create the Sticky Strands

Step 1

It wouldn't be summer without that icky sticky feeling. Let's recreate this now using simple paths and effects.

Enable the Pen Tool (P) and click to create random straight lines connecting your letters and words. Here's what I've made using an 8px weighted border.


Step 2

With your sticky strokes selected go to Object > Expand to create filled shapes rather than stroked paths.


Step 3

Now select the words without the sticky strands and duplicate them.

With the duplicate words selected select the sticky strands as well then Unite them. Now go to Object > Compound Path > Make to create a single joined shape.


Step 4

With the newly created shaped selected visit Effect > Stylize > Rounded Corners and enter the following information.


Step 5

With this merge we seem to have lost our pretty colors.! Since the sticky strands are supposed to suggest that the words are connected let's use a gradient so the colors. flow smoothly between one another.

Switch to the Gradient Tool (G) and click on our shape then enter our colors. from the palette we created earlier. The position of the stops don't particularly matter just so long as the word itself is one single color and the color change happens between each word to the next.


Step 6

I'm sure you've noticed that because of the Rounded Corner effect we applied the text has lost some of its detail and it looks a bit sloppy. This is especially noticeable on the "of" text circle and some of the other letters like the "L" and inside the "A's" and "E's". This is why we duplicated the text before we merged them together and created the sticky mess.

Zoom in to your piece and enable the Direct Selection Tool (A) then click on the paths of the sticky object and adjust them so that they are hidden inside the perfect text shapes below. This is pretty time consuming but luckily a lot of the words use the same letters and shapes so once you know what to do for one you should be able to apply it to the others without hassle. You can skip over this step if you're happy with the outcome but I'm a bit of a perfectionist and think it's these small details that really finish the piece.


Step 7

Select the sticky object and go to Object > Expand Appearance. Now select the perfect text layer below as well and Unite them making sure to Compound the path like we did earlier.

You'll know the path isn't compounded because the loops in the "f" will have a different color and it will look like a group in the Layers panel.


Step 8

With the new shape selected, visit the Appearance panel and add a new fill layer. Fill this with our altered Smooth Wave pattern that we created earlier. Adjust the size just as you did before then change the blend mode and opacity as outlined below.


Summer Is Over and So Is This Tut!

Your poster design is finished and ready to be sent off to the printer! Be sure to clean up any unused layers or paths before sending to print and you're all set. You're also welcome to export it for the web to share your design with the world. I hope I was able to show you how a few simple tweaks and effects can help create a stellar typography piece.

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