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  1. Design & Illustration
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How to Create a Cool Cut-Out Text Effect in Illustrator

Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

In the following steps, you will learn how to create a cool cut-out text effect in Adobe Illustrator.

For starters, you will learn how to set up a simple grid. Using a simple rectangle and the Transform effect, you will learn how to create an LGBT pride rainbow background. Moving on, you will learn how to add a simple piece of text, how to expand it, and how to align the resulting letter shapes.

Using basic vector shape-building techniques, you will learn how to create the cut-out effect and how to easily spread your letter shapes. Finally, you'll learn how to add a subtle shading effect.

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

1. How to 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 900 in the height box, and then click that More Settings button. Select RGB for the Color Mode, set the Raster Effects to Screen (72 ppi), and then click Create Document.

Enable the Grid (View > Show Grid) and the Snap to Grid (View > Snap to Grid). You will need a grid every 10 px, so simply go to Edit > Preferences > Guides & Grid, and enter 10 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 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. All these options will significantly increase your work speed.

set up grid

2. How to Create the LGBT Pride Rainbow Background

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=255 G=0 B=0.

Move to your artboard and simply create an 850 x 150 px shape—the grid and the Snap to Grid should make it easier. Place this new shape as shown below.

rectangle tool

Step 2

Make sure that your rectangle is selected and go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Drag the Move-Vertical slider to 150 px, enter 5 in the Copies input field, and click OK.

transform effect

Step 3

Make sure that your rectangle is still selected, go to Object > Expand Appearance, and Ungroup (Shift-Control-G) the resulting group of shapes.

expand appearance

Step 4

Select your rectangles one by one and replace the existing fill colors with the ones shown below.


3. How to Create the Text Effect Frame

Step 1

Pick the Rectangle Tool (M) and create a 380 x 440 px shape. Fill this new shape with white (R=255 G=255 B=255) and place it as shown below.

white rectangle

Step 2

Pick the Path Selection Tool (A) and select your white rectangle. Focus on the Options bar and enter 10 px in the Corners input field.


Step 3

Pick the Rectangle Tool (M) and create a 340 x 400 px shape. Fill this new rectangle with R=255 G=0 B=0, lower its Opacity to around 30%, and place it as shown in the following image.

transparent rectangle

4. How to Create and Align the Text Effect

Step 1

Pick the Type Tool (T) and open the Character panel (Window > Type > Character). Select the Odudo font and set the size to 150 px, the leading to 150 px, and the tracking to 300.

Click on the artboard and add your text about as shown below. Make it black.

type tool

Step 2

Make sure that your text is still selected and go to Type > Create Outlines (Shift-Control-O). Ungroup (Shift-Control-G) the resulting group of shapes.

create outlines

Step 3

Now you need to align your letter shapes to the edges of that transparent red rectangle.

Let's start with the "L" shape. Select it along with the red rectangle. Click on the edge of the rectangle to highlight it and therefore make it your key object. Open the Align panel (Window > Align) and click the Vertical Align Top and Horizontal Align Right buttons.

Use the same technique along with the other buttons from the Align panel to align your letter shapes as shown in the third image.

align text

Step 4

Select the red rectangle and simply delete it.

delete rectangle

5. How to Stylize the Vector Text Effect

Step 1

Select all your letter shapes along with the white shape, open the Pathfinder panel (Window > Pathfinder), and click the Divide button.

pathfinder divide

Step 2

Select the letter shapes one by one and spread them roughly as shown in the following image.

spread letter shapes

Step 3

Select all the white shapes, turn them into a compound path (Object > Compound Path > Make or Control-8), and bring it to the front (Shift-Control-]).

make compound path

Step 4

Make sure that your white compound path is still selected and go to Effect > Stylize > Drop Shadow. Enter the settings shown in the first window, click OK, and then apply the other two Drop Shadow effects.

drop shadow effect

Congratulations! You're Done!

Here is how your cool cut-out text effect should look. I hope you've enjoyed this tutorial and can apply these techniques in your future projects. Don't hesitate to share your final result in the comments section.

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

final product
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