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Design

How to Create a Road Text Effect in Adobe Illustrator

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Difficulty:IntermediateLength:LongLanguages:
Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

In the following steps, you will learn how to create a road text effect in Adobe Illustrator using a simple pattern brush.

For starters, you will learn how to set up a simple grid. Using the Rectangle Tool along with some basic vector shape-building techniques, you will learn how to create the shapes that make up the road. 

Moving on, you will learn how to save patterns and how to create your own pattern brush. Using this pattern brush and taking full advantage of the Snap to Grid feature, you will create the text effect. Finally, using the Appearance panel and some basic effects, you will learn how to add subtle shading and highlights along with a subtly textured background.

For more inspiration on how to adjust or improve your final text effect, you can find plenty of resources at Envato Market.

1. Create a New Document and Set Up a Grid

Hit Control-N to create a new document. Select Pixels from the Units drop-down menu, enter 850 in the width box and 600 in the height box, and then click the Advanced button. Select RGB, Screen (72 ppi) and make sure that the Align New Objects to Pixel Grid box is unchecked before you click OK.

Enable the Grid (View > Show Grid) and the Snap to Grid (View > Snap to Grid). You will need a grid every 1 px, so simply go to Edit > Preferences > Guides > Grid, and enter 1 in the Gridline every box and 1 in the Subdivisions box. Try not to get discouraged by all that grid—it will make your work easier, and keep in mind that you can easily enable or disable it using the Control-" keyboard shortcut.

You can learn more about Illustrator's grid system and how it can help you in this short tutorial from Andrei Stefan: Understanding Adobe Illustrator's Grid System.

You should also open the Info panel (Window > Info) for a live preview with the size and position of your shapes. Don't forget to set the unit of measurement to pixels from Edit > Preferences > Units > General. All these options will significantly increase your work speed.

setup grid

2. Create the Main Shapes

Step 1

Pick the Rectangle Tool (M) and focus on your Toolbar. Remove the color from the stroke, and then select the fill and set its color to R=110 G=180 B=81. Move to your artboard and simply create a 6 x 31 px rectangle—the grid and the Snap to Grid will make this easier.

rectangle

Step 2

Make sure that your rectangle is still selected and make a copy in front using the Control-C > Control-F keyboard shortcut. Select the newly made copy, and simply drag it about 11 px to the right as shown in the second image.

Pick the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 15 x 31 px shape and place it about as shown in the second image.

duplicate

Step 3

Using that same Rectangle Tool (M), create two 6 x 27 px shapes and a 15 x 27 px shape. Fill these three rectangles with R=40 G=29 B=43 and place them as shown in the following image. Again, the grid and the Snap to Grid feature will come in handy.

dark rectangle

3. Create the Red and White Squares

Step 1

Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create four 3 px squares. Fill two of these shapes with white (R=255 G=255 B=255) and the other two with R=219 G=4 B=22, and then place them as shown in the following image.

red white squares

Step 2

Multiply the red and white squares made in the previous step and spread the copies as shown in the following images.

duplicate squares

4. Create the Street Lines

Step 1

Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create four 6 x 1 px shapes and two 15 x 1 px shapes. Fill these new rectangles with white and place them as shown in the first image. Use the same tool and attributes to create a 3 x 1 px shape and place it as shown in the second image.

white rectangles

Step 2

Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create five 3 px squares. Fill these new shapes with white and place them as shown in the first image. Once you're done, duplicate these white squares and place the copies as shown in the second image.

white squares

Step 3

Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create two 1 x 5 px rectangles. Fill both shapes with white and place them as shown in the first image. Using the same tool and attributes, create four 2 x 1 px shapes and place them as shown in the second image.

white rectangles

5. Create the Flag

Step 1

Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 4 x 26 px shape, fill it with R=40 G=29 B=43 and place it as shown in the following image.

dark rectangle

Step 2

Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a bunch of 2 px squares, make sure that the fill color is set to white, and spread them as shown in the following image.

white squares

Step 3

Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create two 9 x 1 px rectangles. Fill both shapes with R=84 G=94 B=96 and place them as shown in the following image.

poles

6. Create the Pattern Brush

Step 1

Select all the shapes highlighted in the following image and simply drag them inside the Swatches panel (Window > Swatches) to save your selected shapes as a pattern.

Now, naming this pattern might make things easier later. Make sure that you deselect the shapes from your artboard and then select the newly added pattern from the Swatches panel. Open the fly-out menu from the same panel and simply go to Swatch Options. Name your pattern "Start" and then click that OK button.

save patttern

Step 2

Select all the shapes highlighted in the following image and turn them into a new pattern. Name this one "End".

save second pattern

Step 3

Now that you have the two patterns, you can get rid of the set of shapes that were used to make them.

Select the remaining shapes, open the Brushes panel (Window > Brushes), and click that New Brush button. Check the Pattern Brush box and click the OK button. Pick a name for your pattern, make sure that the attributes are set as shown below, and then focus on the Tile boxes. Simply open the Start Tile and add your "Start" pattern, and then open the End Tile and add your "End" pattern. Once you're done, click the OK button and your new pattern brush will show up in the Brushes panel.

save pattern brush

7. Create the Text Effect

Step 1

Pick the Type Tool (T) and open the Character panel (Window > Type > Character). Select the MamaRound font, and set the size to 200 pt and the tracking to 50. Make this piece of text black and lower its Opacity to about 25% using the Transparency panel (Window > Transparency).

text

Step 2

Using the Pen Tool (P) and a piece of text as a rough reference, draw a smooth path across your text, about as shown in the following image.

paths

Step 3

Now that you have your paths, simply delete that piece of text. Select the remaining paths and replace the existing stroke with your pattern brush from the Brushes panel (Window > Brushes). Select the path that makes up your "E", pick the Pen Tool (P), click the bottom end point, and add a nice smooth path, approximately as shown in the second image.

pattern brush

8. Adjust the Text Effect and Add Shading

Step 1

Make sure that your "E" path remains selected and pick the Width Tool (Shift-W). First, focus on the left end of your selected path and drag those handles to the outside, which will enlarge your brush. Move to the other endpoint of your path, and this time drag those handles slightly to the inside, which will shrink your pattern brush. 

In the end, things should look about as shown in the following image.

width tool

Step 2

Make sure that your "E" path is still selected and make a copy in front (Control-C > Control-F). Select this copy, go to Object > Expand Appearance, and then hit Shift-Control-G to Ungroup the resulting group of shapes.

expand appearance

Step 3

Using the Move Tool (M), select the groups of shapes highlighted in the following image and click the Unite button from the Pathfinder panel (Window > Pathfinder). Fill the resulting shape with a random blue.

blue shape

Step 4

Using the Move Tool (M), select the groups of shapes highlighted in the following image and click that same Unite button from the Pathfinder panel. Fill the resulting shape with a random red.

red shape

Step 5

Select the remaining groups of shapes (highlighted in the first image) and simply delete them. Also, select your blue shape and bring it to front using the Shift-Control-] keyboard shortcut.

delete shapes

Step 6

Select the path that makes up your "C" and make a copy in front (Control-C > Control-F). Select this copy and go to Object > Expand Appearance. Make sure that the resulting group of shapes remains selected, and click that same Unite button from the Pathfinder panel. Fill the resulting shape with a random green.

green shape

Step 7

Using the Pen Tool (P), create a simple shape about as shown in the following image. Fill it with black and lower its Opacity to about 30%.

black shape

Step 8

Select your blue shape and bring it to front using that same Shift-Control-] keyboard shortcut. Reselect this blue shape along with the black transparent one, and click the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Fill the resulting shapes with yellow, and increase their Opacity to 100%.

minus front

Step 9

Select the green and the yellow shapes highlighted in the following image and click the Intersect button from the Pathfinder panel. Fill the resulting shape with black, and lower its Opacity to 30%.

intersect

Step 10

Select the red and the yellow shapes highlighted in the following image and click that same Intersect button from the Pathfinder panel. Fill the resulting shapes with black, and lower their Opacity to 40%.

intersect

Step 11

Using the Pen Tool (P), create a black shape about as shown in the first image and send it to back using the Shift-Control-[ keyboard shortcut.

shadow black

Step 12

Make sure that your newest black shape remains selected, focus on the Gradient panel (Window > Gradient), and simply click that gradient thumbnail to quickly replace the existing fill color with the default linear gradient. Make sure that the Angle is set to 0 degrees and then select the left slider, set the color to black, and lower its Opacity to 0%.

Move to the Appearance panel and select the existing fill. First, change its Blending Mode to Overlay, and then go to Effect > Blur > Gaussian Blur. Enter a 15 px Radius and click the OK button.

linear gradient

Step 13

Make sure that your blurred shape remains selected and keep focusing on the Appearance panel. Select the existing fill and duplicate it using the Duplicate Selected Item button. Select the newly added fill, lower its Opacity to 10%, and remove that Gaussian Blur effect.

add fill

9. Add a Background and Subtle Highlights

Step 1

Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create an 860 x 610 px shape. Make sure that this new rectangle covers your entire artboard, send it to back (Shift-Control-[), and set the fill color to R=140 G=198 B=63.

green background

Step 2

Make sure that your green rectangle remains selected, focus on the Appearance panel, and add a second fill using the Add New Fill button. Select the new fill, make it black, lower its Opacity to 3%, change the Blending Mode to Multiply, and then go to Effect > Artistic > Film Grain. Drag those sliders as shown below, and then click the OK button.

film grain

Step 3

Reselect your green rectangle, make a copy in front (Control-C > Control-F), and bring it to front (Shift-Control-]).

Select this new copy and simply hit the D button from your keyboard to replace the existing Appearance attributes with the default ones (white fill and a black stroke). Remove that black stroke and replace the white fill with the radial gradient shown below. Change its Blending Mode to Soft Light and keep in mind that that yellow zero from the Gradient image stands for Opacity percentage. Also, use the Gradient Tool (G) to stretch your gradient about as shown in the following image.

radial gradient

Step 4

Make sure that the rectangle added in the previous step is still selected and make a copy in front (Control-C > Control-F). Select this copy, lower its Opacity to 25%, and replace the existing gradient with the linear gradient shown below.

linear gradient

Step 5

Make sure that the rectangle added in the previous step is still selected and make a copy in front (Control-C > Control-F). Select this copy, increase its Opacity to 30%, replace the existing linear gradient with the one shown below, and then go to Effect > Path > Offset Path. Enter a -70 px Offset, click the OK button, and then go to Effect > Blur > Gaussian Blur. Enter an 80 px Radius, click that OK button, and you're done.

linear gradient

Congratulations! You're Done!

Here is how it should look. I hope you've enjoyed this tutorial and can apply these techniques in your future projects.

Feel free to adjust the final design and make it your own. You can find some great sources of inspiration at Envato Market, with interesting solutions to improve your design.

final product
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