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  1. Design & Illustration
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Design

How to Create a Drinking Straw Text Effect in Adobe Illustrator

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

For starters you will learn how to set up a simple grid and how to create the set of shapes that will make up a first pattern brush. You'll learn how to easily create pixel perfect shapes and how to save patterns. Using this first brush, the Shape Builder Tool and some basic effects, you will learn how to create the actual straw pattern brush. Finally, you will learn how to easily recolor your brush and how to create a neat text effect.

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 600 in the width box and 620 in the height box, and then click the Advanced button. Select RGB, Screen (72ppi) 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 should also open the Info panel (Window > Info) for a live preview with the size and position of your shapes. Do not 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 Set of Rectangles That Will Make Up the Body of Your Pattern Brush

Step 1

Pick the Rectangle Tool (M), focus on your artboard, and create the column of tiny rectangles shown in the following image. The grid and the Snap to Grid feature will make this easier, and make sure that you're using the size and fill color attributes indicated below.

rectangles column

Step 2

Using the same tool, create two 5 x 1 px shapes and place them as shown in the following image. Select the top rectangle and focus on the Appearance panel (Window > Appearance). Make sure that the fill color is set to white (R=255 G=2555 B=255) and then click that "Opacity" piece of text to open the Transparency fly-out panel. Change the Blending Mode to Soft Light and lower the Opacity to 50%. Move to the other rectangle made in this step, make sure that the fill color is also set to white, lower its Opacity to 70% and change the Blending Mode to Soft Light.

white rectangles

Step 3

Using that same Rectangle Tool (M), create three 5 x 1 px shapes and place them as shown in the following image. Select the top rectangle, set the fill color to black (R=0 G=0 B=0) and change the Blending Mode to Soft Light. Move to the bottom rectangle made in this step, set the fill color to black, lower its Opacity to 30% and change the Blending Mode to Soft Light. Finally, select the third rectangle made in this step, make sure that the fill color is set to black, lower its Opacity to 70% and change the Blending Mode to Soft Light.

black rectangles

Step 4

Select all the shapes made so far and simply drag them inside the Swatches panel (Window > Swatches) to save them as a pattern. Double click on this new pattern, rename it "Start / End Tile" and then make sure that you hit the Cancel button. Do not remove this column of rectangles from your artboard, because you'll need it later.

new pattern

3. Create the First Set of Shapes That Will Make Up the Ridged Side of the Straw

Step 1

Reselect the Rectangle Tool (M) and create a new column of rectangles as shown below. Make sure that you're using the size and color attributes indicated in the following image.

second rectangles column

Step 2

Focus on your new column of rectangles and pick the Direct Selection Tool (A). Select the anchor points highlighted in the first image and simply drag them 2 px up as shown in the second image.

move anchor points

Step 3

Keep focusing on your new set of shapes and make sure that the Direct Selection Tool (A) remains active. Select the anchor points highlighted in the first image and simply drag them 1 px down as shown in the second image.

move anchor points

Step 4

Keep focusing on your new set of shapes and make sure that the Direct Selection Tool (A) is still active. Select the anchor points highlighted in the first image and simply drag them 2 px down as shown in the second image.

move anchor points

Step 5

Reselect the Rectangle Tool (M) and create a new column of rectangles as shown below. Make sure that you're using the size and color attributes indicated in the following image.

third rectangles column

Step 6

Focus on this new column of rectangles and pick the Direct Selection Tool (A). Select the anchor points highlighted in the first image and simply drag them 2 px up as shown in the second image.

move anchor points

Step 7

Keep focusing on your new set of shapes and make sure that the Direct Selection Tool (A) remains active. Select the anchor points highlighted in the first image and simply drag them 1 px down as shown in the second image.

move anchor points

Step 8

Keep focusing on your new set of shapes and make sure that the Direct Selection Tool (A) is still active. Select the anchor points highlighted in the first image and simply drag them 2 px down as shown in the second image.

move anchor points

Step 9

Reselect the column of shapes highlighted in the first image and simply drag them 1 px to the left as shown in the second image.

move shapes

4. Create the Second Set of Shapes That Will Make Up the Ridged Side of the Straw

Step 1

Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 5 x 1 px shape, make it white, and place it as shown in the first image. Keep focusing on this new rectangle, pick the Add Anchor Point Tool (+), and simply add two anchor points as shown in the first image. Switch to the Direct Selection Tool (A), select the two anchor points added a few moments ago, and drag them 1 px up as shown in the second image.

white shape

Step 2

Make sure that your white shape is still selected and go to Object > Transform > Reflect. Check the Horizontal box and then simply click the Copy button. Move to your artboard, select the newly made shape, drag it down and place it as shown in the following image.

multiply white shape

Step 3

Keep focusing on the white shapes. Select the top one, lower its Opacity to 50% and change the Blending Mode to Soft Light. Then select the bottom one, lower its Opacity to 70%, and change the Blending Mode to Soft Light.

edit white shapes

Step 4

Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 5 x 1 px shape, make it black, and place it as shown in the first image. Keep focusing on this new rectangle, pick the Add Anchor Point Tool (+), and simply add two anchor points as shown in the first image. Switch to the Direct Selection Tool (A), select the two anchor points added a few moments ago, and drag them 2 px up as shown in the second image.

black shape

Step 5

Make sure that your black shape is still selected and go to Object > Transform > Reflect. Check the Horizontal box and then simply click the Copy button. Move to your artboard, select the newly made shape and make a copy in front (Control-C > Control-F). Now, select the two shapes made in this step one by one and place them as shown in the following image.

multiply black shapes

Step 6

Keep focusing on the black shapes. Select the bottom one, lower its Opacity to 30% and change the Blending Mode to Soft Light. Move to the top shape and change its Blending Mode to Soft Light, and then select the middle one, lower its Opacity to 70%, and change the Blending Mode to Soft Light.

edit black shapes

Step 7

Using the Pen Tool (P), create a 15 px vertical path and place it as shown in the following image. Make sure that this new path stays selected and focus on the Appearance panel. Remove the color from the fill and then select the existing stroke. Set the color to white and then simply click that "Stroke" piece of text to open the Stroke fly-out panel. Make sure that the Weight is set at 1 px and then select Width Profile 1 from that Profile drop-down menu.

vertical path

Step 8

Make sure that your vertical path is still selected and go to Object > Path > Outline Stroke. Select the resulting shape and simply change its Blending Mode to Soft Light.

edit vertical path

5. Create the First Pattern Brush

Reselect all the shapes highlighted in the following image, open the Brushes panel (Window > Brushes) and click the New Brush button. Check the Pattern Brush box and then click the OK button. Name it "Bent Straw", enter the attributes shown below, and then move to the Tile boxes. Open the Start Tile and End Tile drop-down windows and simply add the "Start / End Tile" pattern from that list. Finally, click OK and you should find your new pattern brush inside the Brushes panel.

bent straw pattern brush

6. Prepare the Shapes and the Pattern That Will Be Used to Create Your Straw Pattern Brush

Step 1

Return to the column of rectangles made in the beginning of the tutorial. Pick the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 5 x 17 px shape, make it yellow (R=255 G=222 B=23), send it to back using the Shift-Control-[ keyboard shortcut, and make sure that you're placing it exactly as shown in the following image. Once again, the grid and the Snap to Grid should ease your work.

yellow rectangle

Step 2

Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 77 px square, make it green (R=141 G=198 B=63), and place it as shown in the following image. Switch to the Pen Tool (P), create a 40 x 40 px path like the one from the second image, make sure that you're placing it exactly as shown in that image, and then focus on the Appearance panel. Remove the color from the fill and add a simple orange for the stroke.

green rectangle

Step 3

Make sure that the path with the orange stroke is still selected, and simply replace that flat color with your "Bent Straw" pattern brush. Take a closer look at your path and make sure that the edge filled with a darker blue lies on the inner side. If it doesn't, pick the Pen Tool (P) and simply click on the top right anchor point. 

Now, make sure that this path remains selected and go to Effect > Stylize > Rounded Corners. Enter a 20 px Radius, click the OK button and then go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Drag both Move sliders to 0.5 px and then click the OK button. This last effect is used solely to make sure that this path will be perfectly aligned with the body side of your pattern brush.

add pattern brush

Step 4

Reselect the path with the pattern brush and go to Object > Expand Appearance. Select the resulting group of shapes along with the green square and pick the Shape Builder Tool (Shift-M). Hold the Shift button from your keyboard and drag a tiny selection roughly as shown in the second image, but make sure that you don't go over the edge of your green shape. Move to the bottom side of your green square, don't forget to hold the Shift button, and drag a new selection roughly as shown in the fourth image.

shape builder tool

Step 5

Select the two tiny rectangles highlighted in the first image and remove them using the Delete button from your keyboard. Reselect the green square, move to the Appearance panel and simply remove the existing fill color.

remove rectagles

Step 6

Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 77 px square, make it orange (R=251 G=176 B=64) and place it as shown in the following image. Switch to the Pen Tool (P), create a new 40 x 40 px path, place it exactly as shown in the following image, make sure that it stays selected, and focus on the Appearance panel. Remove the color from the fill and add a simple orange for the stroke.

orange rectangle

Step 7

Make sure that the path with the orange stroke is still selected, and simply replace that flat color with your "Bent Straw" pattern brush. Again, take a look at your path and this time make sure that the edge filled with a darker blue lies on the outer side. If it doesn't, pick the Pen Tool (P) and simply click on the bottom anchor point. 

Now, make sure that this path remains selected and go to Effect > Stylize > Rounded Corners. Enter a 20 px Radius, click the OK button, and then go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Drag both Move sliders to 0.5 px and then click the OK button.

add pattern brush

Step 8

Reselect the path with the pattern brush and simply go to Object > Expand Appearance. Select the resulting group of shapes along with the orange square and pick the Shape Builder Tool (Shift-M). Hold the Shift button from your keyboard and get rid of the two sections highlighted in the second and fourth images.

shape builder tool

Step 9

Select the two rectangles highlighted in the first image and remove them using that same Delete button from your keyboard. Reselect the green square, move to the Appearance panel and simply remove the existing fill color.

remove rectangles

Step 10

Reselect that yellow rectangle, focus on the Appearance panel and simply remove the color used for the fill.

remove yellow

Step 11

Select the square and the rest of the shapes highlighted in the first image, turn them into a new pattern, and name it "OuterCornerTile". Select the square and the rest of the shapes highlighted in the second image, turn them into a new pattern, and name it "InnerCornerTile".

save new patterns

7. Create the Straw Pattern Brush

Now, select all the shapes highlighted in the following image, move to the Brushes panel, and click again that New Brush button. Check that same Pattern Brush box and then click the OK button. Name this new brush "Straw Blue", enter the attributes shown below, and then move to the Tile boxes. Open the Outer Corner Tile drop-down window and add the "OuterCornerTile" pattern from that list, and then open the Inner Corner Tile drop-down window and add the "InnerCornerTile" pattern. Finally, click OK and you should find your new pattern brush inside the Brushes panel.

create straw pattern brush

8. Create the Text Effect

Step 1

Pick the Type Tool (T) and open the Character panel (Window > Type > Character). Select the Agency FB font and set the font size to around 350 px. Simply click on your artboard, add the "SIP" piece of text, and pick a light grey for the text color.

create piece of text

Step 2

Pick the Pen Tool (P), try to use the piece of text as a rough reference, and create a set of simple paths as shown in the following image. Add a black stroke for these paths and make sure that none of them have a color set for the fill. Once you have all these paths, you can get rid of that piece of text.

create paths

Step 3

Make sure that all your paths are selected, replace the black stroke with the "Straw Blue" pattern brush, and then go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Drag both Move sliders to 0.5 px and then click the OK button. This effect is solely used to get a pixel perfect look for your straws. Activate the Pixel Preview (View > Pixel Preview or Alt-Control-Y) and have a look at one of your paths with and without the Transform effect if you wish to understand exactly how things change.

add straw pattern brush

Step 4

Select only one of your paths and go to Edit > Edit Colors > Recolor Artwork. Go to the Edit section, make sure that the Recolor Artwork box and Link harmony colors buttons are checked, and then drag the Brightness slider and the color handles roughly as shown in the following image. Once you're happy with the new color of your straw, simply click the OK button and the recolored pattern brush will automatically appear inside the Brushes panel. Rename it "Straw Orange".

recolor straw pattern brush

Step 5

Using the same technique mentioned in the previous step, create a pink and a purple straw as shown in the following image.

pink purple straws

Step 6

Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a shape that covers your entire artboard, send it to back (Shift-Control-[) and fill it with R=250 G=250 B=245. Make sure that this new rectangle stays selected, focus on the Appearance panel, and add a second fill using the Add New Fill button. Select this new fill, make it black, lower its Opacity to 2% and change the Blending Mode to Multiply, and then go to Effect > Artistic > Film Grain. Enter the attributes shown in the following image and then click the OK button.

add background

Step 7

Reselect all your paths, focus on the Transparency panel (Window > Transparency) and simply lower the Opacity to 80%.

lower opacity

Step 8

This final step might be a bit challenging for your machine, so it would be a good idea to save the work you've done so far. Now, make sure that all your paths are selected and go to Effect > Stylize > Drop Shadow. Enter the attributes shown in the top left window (in the following image), click the OK button, and then add the other five Drop Shadow effects shown below.

drop shadow effects

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.

final product
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