In this tutorial, you will learn to create a Russian inspired vector text effect, beautifully decorated with traditional geometric designs and bright yellow and red colors.
You'll use the Appearance panel in Adobe Illustrator to create and save a graphic style for the letters, and this will make it easier to recolor the entire piece of text. You will create a new geometric pattern and two new Pattern Brushes that will help us to decorate the vector text.
By the end of this tutorial, you will be able to apply these techniques for other text effects as well. Let's start!
To complete the tutorial, you will need the following assets:
1. How to Set Up a New Document
Launch Illustrator and go to File > New to open a blank document. Type a name for your file, set the dimensions, and then select Pixels as Units and RGB as Color Mode.
Next, go to Edit > Preferences > General, set the Keyboard Increment to 1 px and, while there, go to Units to make sure they are set as in the following image. I usually work with these settings, and they will help you throughout the drawing process.
2. How to Create the Russian Text
To create this text effect, we are going to use the word “Русский", which means “Russian”. So grab the Type Tool (T) and write the letters “PYCCKNN” on your artboard using the Russian Land Font, with a size of 240 pt. In the Set the tracking for the selected characters field, select a value of 10 in order to add more space between the letters.
Choose Expand from the Object menu, followed by Ungroup (Shift-Control-G) to turn the text into individual letters.
Select only the last two letters, go to the Transform panel, and from the drop-down menu, choose Flip Horizontal. Now these letters match the Cyrillic alphabet.
We need an accent to complete the last letter, so follow the sequence of images to create it. First, draw two 20 x 20 px circles filled with black and, after that, draw a curved path to connect them at the bottom. Give it a 4 pt black Stroke and choose Expand from the Object menu to turn the stroke into a shape. Now, select all three shapes and press Unite in the Pathfinder panel to merge them into the shape of the accent. Move it above the last letter.
3. How to Create the Colored Text Layers
Focus on the first letter and fill it with pale blue for the moment. Also, select a 1 pt blue Stroke.
With the letter still selected, add a New Stroke at the bottom of the Appearance panel. Give it a 10 pt pink Stroke.
Add a New Stroke at the bottom of the Appearance panel and give it a 10 pt green Stroke. While this Stroke attribute stays selected in the Appearance panel, go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform and apply the settings shown. This will move the green layer to the bottom right side to create some depth.
With the first letter still selected, press the New Graphic Style icon at the bottom of the Graphic Styles panel in order to save it. Now, select the rest of the letters and apply the same style to them.
Select the text and choose Expand Appearance followed by Expand from the Object menu in order to expand the appearances and strokes. Ungroup (Shift-Control-G) twice to get the individual colored layers.
At this point, the text may not look great in some areas. If you get the spikes shown in the close-up, you can remove them with the help of the Delete Anchor Point Tool (-). Simply click on the anchor point at the tip to remove it, and the curve will update itself.
Move each letter to a separate layer to keep things organized in the Layers panel. On each layer, you should have four shapes corresponding to the four appearances that you applied earlier. Rename the green shape “depth”, the pink shape “outer border”, the pale blue shape “main letter”, and the blue shape “inner border”. On each layer, you should have the same thing.
4. How to Color the Russian Text
Select only the “depth” shape of the first letter and go to Select > Same > Fill Color. As a result, Illustrator will select all the green shapes for you. Replace the fill color with red.
Next, select only the “outer border” shape of the first letter and go to Select > Same > Fill Color. As a result, Illustrator will select all the pink shapes, and you can easily replace the fill color with off-white. Also, apply a 1 pt red Stroke and press the Align Stroke to Inside option in the Stroke panel.
Now, select the “main letter” shape and use the same method to replace the pale blue color with yellow. Also, go to Effect > Stylize > Inner Glow and apply the settings shown.
The last shape is the “inner border”. Replace the blue color with red using the same method.
At this point, if you zoom in on the first letter, you will notice that some corners are missing and we need to fix them. Grab the Pen Tool (P) and draw a triangle shape to cover the empty space in the corners. Fill them with the same red as the “depth” shape (1).
Now, select the “depth” shape along with the triangles and press Unite in the Pathfinder panel to merge them (2). Move the newly obtained “depth” shape to the back, where it was (3).
Zoom in on the other letters as well, and fix the corners as explained in the previous step.
5. How to Create a Simple Traditional Russian Pattern
Let's create a simplified version of a traditional pattern. Take the Rectangle Tool (M) and draw a 50 x 50 px square on your artboard (1); then draw a smaller 20 x 20 px square in the center. Select a 6 pt black Stroke for both of them (2).
Rotate both squares 45 degrees using the Transform panel (3) and then choose Expand from the Object menu to turn the strokes into fills. Drag the two shapes to the Swatches panel to save it as a New Pattern Swatch (4).
Let's apply the pattern. Focus on the first letter and select the shape called “main letter”. Add a New Fill above the existing yellow Fill and select the newly saved Squares Pattern Swatch from the Swatches panel (1).
To scale down the pattern, go to Object > Transform > Scale and make sure that only the Transform Patterns option is checked. Type 15% in the Scale Uniform field and hit OK (2). Finally, set the Blending Mode to Overlay for this Fill attribute (3).
Repeat the same thing for the other letters and apply the pattern.
6. How to Create Shading on the Edge of the Russian Text
Let's create a mask shape first. Select the “depth” shape of the first letter and then Copy and Paste in Place (Shift-Control-V) to make a copy of it in front of everything (1). Next, select the “outer border” shape and then Copy and Paste in Place (Shift-Control-V) again (2). For visual reasons, I've changed the fill colors to blue and green.
While these copies stay selected, press Minus Front in the Pathfinder panel and, as a result, you'll get a group of shapes (3). Keep only the shapes that match the bottom right edge, and delete the rest. Go to Object > Compound Path > Make (Control-8) to merge the remaining shapes into one. This will be the masking shape (4).
Repeat the same thing for the other letters because you will need a masking shape for each one of them (5). Hide them for the moment.
Use the Pen Tool (P) or the Line Segment Tool (\) to draw a short, straight path in the bottom right corner of the first letter (1). Give it a 2 pt black Stroke; then go to Effect > Blur > Gaussian Blur and apply a Radius of 4 px. Reduce the Opacity to 75% (2).
Multiply this path and add copies in the other corners where a shadow should be, as shown in the image below (3).
Now, select all the shading paths along with the mask shape that you created earlier (which should be in front), and set to stroke-none, fill-none and go to Object > Clipping Mask > Make (Control-7). This will make the shading visible only on the red edge.
Do the same thing for the other letters by multiplying the same shading path and arranging them in the areas where you want to create a subtle shadow. After that, mask them using the shapes created earlier.
7. How to Create a Simple, Traditional Criss-Cross Pattern Brush
Let's create a simplified version of a criss-cross traditional stripe decoration. Take the Rectangle Tool (M) and draw a 117.5 x 117.5 px square on your artboard (1). Next, draw four smaller 17.5 x 17.5 px squares filled with dark red, and arrange them in the outer corners of the bigger one (2). Draw another four 17 x 67 px rectangles filled with red, and arrange them between the small squares on the sides (3).
Select all the shapes and Rotate them 45 degrees in the Transform panel. At this point, you can delete the gray square (4). Next, take the Delete Anchor Point Tool (-) and click on the outer points of the small squares to delete them. Now the squares will turn into triangles.
Go to View > Rulers > Show Rulers and drag two horizontal and two vertical Guides to the base of each triangle (5). They will help you to draw a new square in between. Fill it with bright yellow and send it to the back (6).
Drag the square decoration that you have created in the previous step into the Brushes panel to save it as a New Pattern Brush. In the Pattern Brush Options window, type “CrissCross Pattern Brush” as the name and drag the Scale slider to 4%. Hit OK.
Let's apply the newly saved brush. Grab the Pen Tool (P) or the Line Segment Tool (\) and draw a straight path at the top of the first letter up to the inner red border (1). Select a 1 pt Stroke and the CrissCross Pattern Brush from the Brushes panel. Make extra adjustments if needed and make sure it fits perfectly (2).
Draw a new path with the same length, right at the bottom of the criss-cross stripe decoration (3), and give it a 1 pt red Stroke. This will make the design more symmetrical (4).
Repeat the same thing and create another criss-cross stripe decoration at the bottom of the first letter (5).
Use the technique explained above to create criss-cross stripe decorations on the rest of the letters, as shown below.
8. How to Create a Geometric Flower Pattern Brush
Use the Rectangle Tool (M) to draw a small 12 x 8.5 px rectangle on your artboard and fill it with bright yellow. Switch to the Direct Selection Tool (A) and use it to select only the two top points; then move them to the right using the Right Arrow key on your keyboard. You will obtain a geometric petal-like shape (1).
Next, draw two small 5.5 x 2.5 px rectangles and arrange them in the shape of a cross. Align the left corner of the petal shape with the corner of the gray cross as shown below (2). While the petal shape stays selected, go to Object > Transform > Reflect, check Horizontal, and hit Copy. You will obtain the second petal, and you need to align it with the corner of the gray cross (3).
While both petals stay selected, go back to Object > Transform > Reflect, and this time, check Vertical. Hit Copy and you will obtain two new petals for the left side. Arrange them in place (4).
While the four petals stay selected, go to Object > Transform > Rotate and choose a 90 degrees Angle. Hit Copy and you will get the last four petals. Arrange them in place, and now the geometric flower is complete (5).
Use the Rectangle Tool (M) to draw a square around the flower. Mine was exactly 50 x 50 px. Fill it with dark red and send it to the back (6).
Select the geometric flower and the red square and Rotate them 45 degrees in the Transform panel. Drag everything into the Brushes panel to save it as a New Pattern Brush. In the Pattern Brush Options window, just type “Geometric Flower Pattern Brush” as the name and then hit OK.
Now, let's use the newly saved brush to decorate the Russian vector text. Focus on the first letter and draw a straight path with the Pen Tool (P) or the Line Segment Tool (\) as shown (1). Select a 1 pt Stroke and the Geometric Flower Pattern Brush from the Brushes panel. Open the Stroke Options window from the Appearance panel, and drag the Scale slider to 15% in order to make the geometric flowers smaller (2).
Draw another path on the first letter and apply the same settings in order to add more decorations (3).
Repeat the same thing for the rest of the letters and decorate them with the Geometric Flower Pattern Brush as well.
9. How to Add Extra Details on the Russian Text Effect
Zoom in on the first letter and draw a shape as shown in the image below, between the red inner border. After that, draw similar shapes on the other letters. Fill these shapes with the same shade of red as the inner border.
Finally, you can add a very small red circle filled with the same shade of red on the first, third, and fourth letters.
10. How to Create the Shadow Under the Russian Text Effect
Focus on the first letter again and select only the “depth” shape. Copy and Paste in Place (Shift-Control-V) to make a copy of it in front of everything (1). Next, select the “outer border” shape and Copy and Paste in Place (Shift-Control-V) again to make a copy of this shape as well (2). For visual reasons, I've changed the fill colors to blue and gray.
While both copies stay selected, press Unite in the Pathfinder panel to merge them into a new shape (3). Send this new shape under the letter in the Layers panel; then go to Effect > Stylize > Drop Shadow and apply this effect three times to create the shadow (4).
These are the settings for the three Drop Shadow effects:
Follow the technique explained above to create the new shapes for the rest of the letters and send them to the back. Apply the Drop Shadow effect three times using the same settings.
Awesome Work, You're Done!
Here is the final image of the Russian-inspired text effect. I hope you enjoyed this tutorial and that you learned new techniques today that can be applied in future projects as well.
Keep on drawing and learning with the recommended tutorials: