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How to Create a Magnified Text Illustration

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This post is part of a series called Vector Text Effects.
Make an Old Style Sign From Scratch in CorelDRAW
Create a Swirly Type Treatment

In this tutorial, we'll explain how to create a realistic magnifying glass with shapes and gradients. You'll also learn how to effectively use Illustrator's text tool to create a three column layout, and then integrate this into an illustration. Let's jump into the tutorial.

Final Image Preview

Below is the final design we will be working towards. 

Step 1

We will start with the magnifying glass. Open a new document and draw a circle with the Ellipse Tool (L). Apply a gray Stroke of 4pt inside and leave the fill empty. Set the Layer Opacity to 46%.

Step 2

Create another circle slightly smaller and apply a blue Stroke of 2pt inside. Set the Layer Opacity to 46%.

Step 3

Place the shape over the first circle and center the them both next to each other.

Step 4

Create another circle and set the Stroke to 4pt inside in white. Next, apply an Opacity Mask and create two circles in the mask to reveal and hide parts of it.

Step 5

Align the circle with the Opacity Mask on top of the two other circles. It should look like the image below. I placed the black background just to make it more visible.

Step 6

Create another circle bigger than the original circles, fill it with gray and place it under all shapes and center all these shapes.

Step 7

Make a duplicate of the gray filled circle and apply a radial gray to white gradient to it. Place the gradient highlight towards the bottom left. Then copy the shape, go to Make Opacity Mask, activate it by clicking on the black square and paste the circle in there. Now we need to delete some path points so we'll get a shape similar to the image below.

Step 8

Now apply a linear white to black to white gradient to the opacity mask shape and then angle it. This will hide and reveal only the shape plus some of the radial gradient. Of course this is only one way to create a reflection.

Step 9

We need to give the lens part some sort of beveled depth. To achieve this, create another circle and fill it with a white to black radial gradient. Apply the gradient so the white color is in the center. Set the Layer Opacity to 46% and make sure the shape is on top of all other shapes.

Step 10

Create a shape similar to the one shown below. You can use the same circle that we just created, delete points, and then reshape it. Fill it with a gray color at 60% K. Then set the Layer Opacity to 18%.

Step 11

Place the shape into the middle of the loop. As you can see, it will give us an illusion of a lens reflection.

Step 12

Let's have a look at the handle that we'll create. We need to focus on highlights, reflections, bevels, and gradients. We will create a highlight (1), a bevel with gradients (2), and accent pieces (3).

Step 13

Create a rounded corner rectangle (corner radius depends on your size of the rectangle, I chose around 8pt). Next, fill it with a dark red to black linear gradient. This will be a base and act as a beveled shape.

Step 14

Create a very thin rectangle but keep it as wide as the base shape. Then fill it with a linear gray to white to black gradient.

Step 15

Make a copy of the base shape and cut it, so you will have a shape like in the image below. You can either do that by using the Cutting Knife (Scissors Tool) or cutting the shape with the Scissor Tool (C) at the path points before the rounded corners and then joining the paths and extending the shape. Be sure to fill it with the same silver gradient as used for the small accent shape.

Step 16

Make a duplicate of the silver top shape and rotate it 180 degrees. Resize it so it is not as tall.

Step 17

Create a rectangle smaller in width then the base shape and fill it with the same silver gradient. Make sure when you place it underneath the two top silver shapes that the gradients align.

Step 18

Now let's move on to the highlight. It's a simple shape filled with white. Place it on the left and let it run from the top to almost the bottom. Next, apply an Opacity Mask and hide the bottom part so the shape seems to fade into the red.

Step 19

Group the loop shape together, then group the base handle together, and then place the handle close to the loop. I grouped both together and rotated the loop counterclockwise. Next, I added a Drop Shadow (Effect > Stylize > Drop Shadow).

Step 20

Ah, you thought you were finished, but let's move on to the paper. Create a rectangle, portrait size and fill it with a light gray, then apply a Drop Shadow (Effect > Stylize > Drop Shadow).

Step 21

I outlined the text columns for the layout. We will be creating three columns.

Step 22

First, we need some text. I grabbed some lorem ipsum text from lipsum.com/ and copied it. Next, select the Text Tool (T), click on the top left corner of the first column grid, hold down the left mouse key, and start dragging downwards.

Step 23

You'll see that we are creating a rectangle text box.

Step 24

Now it might be a little hard to place it exactly to the guidelines, but there is a handy tool for resizing text boxes without distorting the text itself. Go to Window > Show Bounding Box (Command + Shift + B) and resize the text box. Paste the text you copied there.

Step 25

Since we created one text box, the text we pasted into it is too long. Illustrator lets you know that by adding a red plus sign on the bottom right of the text box. Select the Selection Tool (V) and click once on the red plus sign. About half a second later you will see a text line image underneath the cursor.

Step 26

Zoom out so you can see the guidelines and draw another rectangle text box. You don't need to select the Text Tool (T), since you already activated it by clicking on the red plus sign.

Step 27

Repeat the previous steps and add another column. Delete any unnecessary text.

Step 28

I created another text box above the three columns and added a title.


Last but not least, I placed the loop on top of the text. To give the illusion that the loop magnifies the text, I made a copy of the column and increase the text size. Then I applied a mask to hide the rest. I hope you enjoyed this tutorial.

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