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  1. Design & Illustration
  2. Kwanzaa
Design

How to Create a Kwanzaa Candle Text Effect in Adobe Illustrator

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Difficulty:IntermediateLength:MediumLanguages:
This post is part of a series called Text Effects .
Quick Tip: How to Create a Metallic Text Effect Using Layer Styles in Photoshop
How to Create a Spanish 3D Text Effect in Adobe Illustrator
Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

In the following steps, you will learn how to create a Kwanzaa candle text effect in Adobe Illustrator. 

For starters, you will learn how to set up a simple grid. You'll create the background for your text effect with a simple rectangle. Using a simple piece of text and some basic vector shape building techniques, you will learn how to create the text effect. Taking full advantage of the Snap to Grid feature and using a bunch of rectangles, you will create a simple frame for the text effect, plus some candles.

Kwanzaa is a celebration held in the United States and in other nations of the African diaspora in the Americas, and it lasts a week. The celebration honors African heritage in African-American culture and is observed from December 26 to January 1, culminating in a feast and gift-giving.

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

What You Will Need

You will need the following resource in order to complete this project:

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 750 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). For starters, 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 by 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.

grid

2. How to Create the 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=237 G=224 B=192.

Move to your artboard and simply create an 870 x 770 px shape—the grid and the Snap to Grid should make it easier. Make sure that this rectangle covers your entire artboard as shown below.

rectangle

Step 2

Set the fill color to white (R=255 G=255 B=255) and make sure that the Rectangle Tool (M) stays selected.

Create an 870 x 220 px shape and place it as shown in the following image.

rectangle

3. How to Create the Text Effect

Step 1

For this step, you will need a grid every 5 px. Just go to Edit > Preferences > Guides & Grid and enter 5 in the Gridline every box.

Pick the Type Tool (T) and open the Character panel (Window > Type > Character). Select the Robinson font, set the size to 300 px and the tracking to 20.

Move to the artboard and simply click on it. Type your text, place it as shown in the following image, and set the color to black (R=0 G=0 B=0).

kwanzaa text effect

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 and turn those shapes into a compound path (Object > Compound Path > Make or Control-8).

create outlines

Step 3

Make sure that your text compound path is still selected and add a copy in front (Control-C > Control-F).

Select only this copy along with the white rectangle and click the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel (Window > Pathfinder). Ungroup (Shift-Control-G) the resulting group of shapes.

minus front

Step 4

Select the white shapes added in the previous step one by one and fill them with the four colors shown in the following image.

recolor

4. How to Frame the Text Effect

Step 1

Return to gridline every 10 px. Simply go to Edit > Preferences > Guides & Grid and enter 10 in the Gridline every box.

Pick the Rectangle Tool (M), create an 870 x 20 px shape and place it as shown in the following image. Fill this new rectangle with R=54 G=173 B=71 and add a 10 px stroke. Set its color to R=26 G=19 B=27.

stroke

Step 2

Duplicate the rectangle made in the previous step (Control-C > Control-V). Select the copy, place it as shown in the following image, and change the fill color to R=46 G=42 B=43.

duplicate

Step 3

Duplicate the rectangle made in the previous step (Control-C > Control-V). Select the copy, place it as shown in the following image, and change the fill color to R=238 G=28 B=37.

duplicate

Step 4

Duplicate the three rectangles made in the last three steps (Control-C > Control-V). Select the copies and place them as shown in the following image.

duplicate

5. How to Add Some Candles

Step 1

Pick the Rectangle Tool (M) and create the seven rectangles shown in the following image. Once again, the grid and the Snap to Grid feature will make things easier.

Fill these new shapes with R=233 G=195 B=132 and add a 10 px stroke. Set its color to R=26 G=19 B=27.

candles

Step 2

Pick the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 50 x 30 px shape, and place it as shown in the following image. Fill this new rectangle with R=238 G=28 B=37 and add a 10 px stroke. Set its color to R=26 G=19 B=27.

Focus on the right side of this rectangle and switch to the Direct Selection Tool (A). Select both anchor points and drag them 30 px up, as shown in the second image.

direct selection tool

Step 3

Make sure that the shape added in the previous step is still selected and go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Drag the Move-Vertical slider to -60 px, set the Copies to 1, and click OK.

transform effect

Step 4

Duplicate the shape with the Transform effect and place the copy as shown in the first image.

Duplicate both shapes with the Transform effect. Select the copies, change the fill color to R=54 G=173 B=71, and place them as shown in the second image.

duplicate

Step 5

Make a copy of the red shape with the Transform effect and another of the green one.

Place these new shapes as shown in the following image and open the Transform effect from the Appearance panel (Window > Appearance). Change the Copies to 2 and click OK.

edit transform effect

Step 6

Make a copy of the red shape with the Transform effect. Select it and change the fill color to R=46 G=42 B=43.

Place this new shapes as shown in the following image and open the Transform effect from the Appearance panel (Window > Appearance). Change the Copies to 3 and click OK.

edit transform effect

6. How to Create the Candle Flames

Step 1

Pick the Ellipse Tool (L), create a 50 px circle, and place it as shown in the following image. Fill this new shape with R=235 G=166 B=28 and add a 10 px stroke. Set its color to R=26 G=19 B=27.

yellow circle

Step 2

Make sure that your circle stays selected and pick the Anchor Point Tool (Shift-C). Simply click on the top anchor point and then switch to the Direct Selection Tool (A). Select that same anchor point and drag it 10 px up, as shown in the second image.

anchor point tool

Step 3

Add six copies of the candle flame shape and place them as shown in the following image.

duplicate

Step 4

Pick the Type Tool (T) and open the Character panel (Window > Type > Character). Make sure that the Robinson font is still selected, set the size to 50 px and the tracking to 400.

Move to the artboard, type your new piece of text and set the color to R=20 G=13 B=23. Rotate this smaller piece of text and place it as shown in the second image.

small text

Congratulations! You're Done!

Here is how your Kwanzaa candle 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.

ABCD

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