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  1. Design & Illustration
  2. Typography
Design

Create Typography That’s Going Down the Drain

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Difficulty:AdvancedLength:MediumLanguages:
Final product image
What You'll Be Creating
This tutorial was originally published in February 2011 as a Tuts+ Premium tutorial. It is now available free to view. Although this tutorial does not use the latest version of Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop, its techniques and process are still relevant.

Today I'm going to show you how to create another typographic treatment from scratch using pipes and hoses for letters. In this tutorial you will learn how to plan paths in Illustrator, model them in Cinema 4D and bring them alive in Photoshop.

You're going to need to know the basics of Cinema 4D for this one, as today's focus is on Photoshop. Let’s get started!

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1. How to Setup the Text

Step 1

Before I get started, allow me to issue a warning. The focus of this tutorial is on Photoshop, not so much Illustrator and C4D. I've already gone over the technique to create 3D objects from paths created in Illustrator. For more info on this topic, see my other tutorial called Create a Delicious Type Treat. The process is very similar, but if you plan to familiarize yourself with basic modeling techniques in C4D, relying on one tutorial alone is rarely enough. So in the first part, I will briefly explain how to create the final render, and then shift our focus to what Envato Tuts+ is all about - Photoshop.

Now, below you have in image of my Illustrator scene. You can also open it from the download folder to see exactly how it was made. I started with the basic letters, then worked my way through the file by adding more pipes and hoses. The weight determined in the file is important, as it will become the diameter in C4D. So carefully use Weights that are unique to each type of pipe. The black pipes are 30 pt, the white PVC's are 20 and the hoses are 15. Keeping the weights distinct and choosing different colors avoids confusion when importing the paths into C4D. Remember to Save your file in Illustrator as a legacy version 8 or older, otherwise C4D won't import it.

Setup the Text

Step 2

Once you've created the entire scene in Illustrator, Copy and Paste in place (Control-F) the first weight in a new scene.

Setup the Text

Step 3

Copy and Paste in place one of the vertical strokes from the words. Go to Object > Expand. With Smart Guides enabled, create a Circle from side to side of the paths. Copy and Paste in place the circle, then make it smaller. Use the Pathfinder to cut out the small circle out of the larger one. We'll use this as a diameter for the pipe, which we'll sweep along the word paths. Delete the large path you've expanded as the bracket of the letter "d".

Setup the Text

Step 4

Snap the diameter circle to the bottom-left corner of the scene and Save it as an Illustrator 8 file, or lower.

Setup the Text

2. How to Create 3D Text

Step 1

Open C4D and go to File > Merge. Select All the paths inside the group, except the circle(s) used to create the diameter. Right-click on one of the selected paths and go to Connect. Delete the extra paths so you're left just with one type path and the diameter.

Create 3D Text

Step 2

Drag the path and diameter under a SweepNURBS to achieve a similar effect. Use the Cap settings found in the second screenshot.

Create 3D Text
Create 3D Text

Step 3

Repeat this process for each of the pipes. Remember that the hose will need to be edited on a point basis, so it runs in between the pipes, not through them. Edit and Rotate each point till you get a smooth, non-intersecting path.

Create 3D Text

Step 4

Use basic shapes to create a gauge, an auto-release pressure hatch, faucets etc. Have fun with it!

Create 3D Text

3. How to Adjust the Lighting

Step 1

For the lighting, a simple Area Light (50% intensity) front-left and a Sky Object with No Material will do just fine.

Adjust the Lighting

Step 2

Enable Global Illumination, change the Anti-aliasing option to Best, size to 3500 x 2500 px and hit the Render button. Make sure to check the Alpha Mask option under Save to be able to easily cut it out from the background in Photoshop. Save it as a .PSD file.

Adjust the Lighting

Step 3

Open the newly created Photoshop render, go to the Mask panel. Control-Click the Alpha Channel and go to the Layers panel. Hit the Layer Mask button to hide the rest.

Adjust the Lighting

4. How to Add the Foam

Step 1

Time to add some foam. Create a New Layer and grab your tablet. You're going to need it for this part. Drag the Fill option to 20% and start drawing with a 35% black, soft brush.

 Add the Foam

Step 2

As you go heavier with the mid-grey Brush, keep in mind this is foam you're drawing. Keep it fluffy!

 Add the Foam

Step 3

Swatch the Background Color and start to draw on the light-source side of the foam.

 Add the Foam

Step 4

Change the Foreground Color to white and start to add more contrast.

 Add the Foam

Step 5

With white, you can now step out of the gray area and give the foam a more definite shape.

 Add the Foam

Step 6

Change to a smaller Brush Size and add sprinkles all over the near objects.

 Add the Foam

Step 7

Use a 5 px Brush to add detail. Change the Fill to 50% on this one.

 Add the Foam

Step 8

Finally, use black and a 20% Fill to add even more contrast over the darker areas.

 Add the Foam

Step 9

Repeat this process on the top hose.

 Add the Foam

5. How to Age the Pipes

Step 1

We're now going to age the pipes. Use the same Brush settings on the ends of the pipes with a dark brown color. I've highlighted it with red in the first screenshot for easy spotting.

Age the Pipes
Age the Pipes

Step 2

Then Swatch a cyan color off the hose, and start oxidizing!

Age the Pipes

Step 3

Repeat this process all over the canvas where there are copper pipes.

Age the Pipes

Step 4

Change the color to a mid-gray and get the white pipes just a little bit dirty.

Age the Pipes

Step 5

Swatch the darkest part of the black pipes and shave off some of that glare.

Age the Pipes
Age the Pipes

6. How to Add the Pressure Gauge

Step 1

In this next part, you'll need this pressure gauge image. Paste it into your scene.

Add the Pressure Gauge

Step 2

Transform it and Rotate so that the 80 and psi words line up with the edge of the canvas. This is just to straighten the image.

Add the Pressure Gauge

Step 3

Use the Elliptical Marquee Tool to select just the white part of the gaudge.

Add the Pressure Gauge

Step 4

Shrink it to fit the casing of the gauge we've made in C4D and place as seen below.

Add the Pressure Gauge

Step 5

Change the Opacity to about 60% so it looks like it's behind glass.

Add the Pressure Gauge

7. How to Create the Water

Step 1

It's now time to draw some water. Grab a very Small Brush set at 20% Fill. Trace the general contour of water gushing out from underneath the pipe ring.

Create the Water

Step 2

Grab a Larger Brush with a smaller Fill range and draw inside the contour.

Create the Water

Step 3

Crank the Fill back up and continue the contour as drips of water gushing out.

Create the Water

Step 4

Add more water as tiny streams.

Create the Water

Step 5

Play around with different levels of Fill and Size to get a pattern that raps around the ring.

Create the Water

Step 6

Make the water look warm by adding some steam. Use a Large Size with very low Fill to achieve this.

Create the Water

Step 7

As with the foam, give it a bit of detail with a Small Brush.

Create the Water

Step 8

Repeat this process all over the scene.

Create the Water

8. How to Adjust the Colors

Step 1

And lastly, we'll change the colors and contrast a bit. Add a Hue & Saturation Adjustment layer and from the Drop-Down Menu choose Cyans. Drag the Saturation Level to +30.

Adjust the Colors

Step 2

Then add a Black and White Gradient Map and change the Blending Mode to Soft Light and Opacity to 70%.

Adjust the Colors

Step 3

Finally, let's add a subtle cross-process effect by using a Curves Adjustment Layer. Change the settings as shown below.

Adjust the Colors
Adjust the Colors
Adjust the Colors

Final Image

And we're finally there. At first glance, this image may look like laborious 3D work, but the secret lies within Illustrator. Taking the time to create a good layout is critical. Don't get ahead of your work, focusing on detail and planning ahead is always worth it.

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