1. Design & Illustration
  2. Typography

Create Typography That’s Going Down the Drain


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!

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 premium 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 Psdtuts+ 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.

Step 2

Once you've created the entire scene in Illustrator, copy and paste in place (Command/Ctrl + F) the first weight in a new scene.

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".

Step 4

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

Step 5

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.

Step 6

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

Step 7

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.

Step 8

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

Step 9

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

Step 10

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.

Step 11

Open the newly created Photoshop render, go to the Mask panel. Command/Ctrl + Click the Alpha Channel and go to the Layers panel. Hit the Layer Mask button to hide the rest.

Step 12

Time to add some foam. Create a new blank 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.

Step 13

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

Step 14

Swatch the background color and start to draw on the light-source side of the foam.

Step 15

Change the foreground color to white and start to add more contrast.

Step 16

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

Step 17

Change to an increasingly smaller brush size and add sprinkles all over the near objects.

Step 18

Use a 5 px brush to add detail. Change the fill to 50% on this one.

Step 19

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

Step 20

Repeat this process on the top hose.

Step 21

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.

Step 22

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

Step 23

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

Step 24

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

Step 25

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

Step 26

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

Step 27

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.

Step 28

Use the Elliptical marquee tool to select just the white part of the gaudge.

Step 29

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

Step 30

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

Step 31

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.

Step 32

Grab a larger brush with a smaller Fill range and draw inside the contour.

Step 33

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

Step 34

Add more water as tiny streams.

Step 35

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

Step 36

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

Step 37

As with the foam, give it a bit of detail with a small brush.

Step 38

Repeat this process all over the scene.

Step 39

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.

Step 40

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

Step 41

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

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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