1. Design & Illustration
  2. Typography

How to Create the Letter S in the Shape of a Slinky Toy

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Read Time: 3 min

In this tutorial we will create the letter S in the shape of a slinky toy. For these purposes we will be using the Blend Tool and simple circles. This is part of the recent Tuts+ Workshop: Alphabet Design Challenge. So let's get started!

Step 1

Create a New document. We will be working in RGB color mode.

First, create a background. Using the Rectangle Tool (M) and create a rectangle filled with black.

Step 2

Now let's create a path that looks like the letter S. Using the Ellipse Tool (L), create a circle with no fill and with a white stroke color.

Now go to Object > Transform > Move and set the vertical offset value, which is equal to the diameter of the circle, then click on the Copy button in the dialog box.

Step 3

With the Direct Selection Tool (A) select point A of the upper circle, and then press the Delete key.

Do the same actions with the point B of the lower circle.

Step 4

Using the Lasso Tool (Q) select the overlapping area of the both paths, then go to Object > Path > Join (Command + J). As the result of these actions, we combined two paths into a single path.

With the Pen Tool (P), create a straight line segments in the upper and lower parts of the path.

Step 5

With the Ellipse Tool (L), create three circles of the same size and with different color strokes. The centers of these circles should lie on the points A, B and C of the S-shaped path.

Select the path, then go to Object > Arrange > Send to Front. This action will place it above all the created objects.

Step 6

Go to Object > Blend > Blend Options and set the number of the Specified Steps in the dialog box.

Now select the path and three circles, then go to Object > Blend > Make.

Step 7

I was not quite satisfied with the achieved result. So I decided to make some changes. Select the blend object and go to Object > Blend > Release. Now add two circles, and slightly reduce the diameter at the point A using the Free Transform Tool (E). Keep in mind that the S-shaped path must be above all the circles.

Select all the circles and the path, then go to Object > Blend > Make, but this time set another value of the Specified Steps.

Step 8

Select all the circles (it is convenient to do it in the Layers panel)...

Now go to Object > Path > Outline Stroke.

Now we can fill the rings of the slinky toy with radial gradients, which will help to darken their inner parts.

Darker shade of the basic color can be conveniently obtained in the HSB color mode in the Color panel.

After working with gradient fills slinky toy looks as follows.

Step 9

Add some lighting effects. Select the black square, then go to Object > Create Gradient Mesh and set the number of rows and columns in the dialog box.

Color the mesh point A with a dark red color, and the mesh point B with a dark green color. Point selection is done with the Direct Selection Tool (A).

Step 10

Create a circle filled with a radial gradient from orange to black color, then apply the Color Dodge blending mode to this circle in the Transparency panel. This will lighten areas of the slinky.

Now create a drop shadow for our letter. Create a circle with the Ellipse Tool (L) filled with a radial gradient from black to white. Transform it into an ellipse with the help of the Selection Tool (V) and apply the Multiply Blending Mode.


I hope you have found this tutorial helpful and can apply the effects in future projects. Recently typography has become my passion. You can see my new text effect tutorials on my web site.

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