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How to Create a Smokin' Western Type Treatment in Illustrator

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Read Time: 7 min
This post is part of a series called Vector Text Effects.
How to Add Decorative Glamour to Your Ordinary Script Font
Make an Old Style Sign From Scratch in CorelDRAW

In this easy tutorial, I will show you how to create a western type treatment primary using Illustrator's Effects. Using the effects from this tutorial, you can easily apply them to other type treatment and logos. Let's get started!

Republished Tutorial

Every few weeks, we revisit some of our reader's favorite posts from throughout the history of the site. This tutorial was first published in June of 2009.

Final Image Preview

Below is the final image we will be working towards. Want access to the full Vector Source files and downloadable copies of every tutorial, including this one? Join Vector Plus.


Step 1

Create a new document. Now with the Text Tool (T), type out the appropriate text. For this tutorial I typed "Western," but you can type whatever you like. I used the font Country Store from the County Fair Picnic set through Font diner. Even though it cost $28 for 12 fonts, you can download something similar for free, like the Western font from Dafont.


Step 2

With the text selected, go Effect > Warp > Arc Lower. In the Warp Options dialog, change the Bend to -20, keep the Horizontal and Vertical Distortion at 0, and press OK.


Step 3

Use the Text Tool (T) and type some more text below "Western." In the tutorial example I typed out "Bar and Grill," but again, you can type whatever you like. In the Type panel, change the font to Glypha (or similar Slab Serif font), change the font size and adjust the Tracking so there is more space between the letters.


Step 4

With the Star Tool (the Star Tool is grouped under the shape tools in the Tools panel) create a star in-between the "Bar" and "And" text. Make the star's height about half the size of the text. Next, create another star, the same size, and in-between the "And" and "Grill" text.


Step 5

Select the "Bar And Grill" text, the stars, and Group them (Command + G). With the new group selected, go Effect > Warp > Arch. In the Warp Options dialog, change the Bend to 20, keep the Horizontal and Vertical Distortion at 0, and press OK.


Step 6

Type "The" with the Type Tool (T), change the font to Glypha Bold, make sure the Tracking is set to zero, and place it directly above the "Western" text.


Step 7

Select the two warped areas and go Object > Expand Appearance. Next select "The" and go to Type Create Outlines (Command + Shift + O).


Step 8

With the Pen Tool, create an uneven shape extending from the left of the "W" in "West" to the right side of "The." Don't worry about making the shape very consistent, you want the shape to have some unevenness and jagged edges.


Step 9

Copy (Command + C) and Paste in Front (Command + F) the new shape. Next, go Object > Transform > Reflect and choose Vertical from the Reflect dialog. Now, move the copied shape to the other side of the "The" word.


Step 10

Create a rectangle the size of your document with the Rectangle Tool (M) and place it behind the text and other shapes by going to Object > Arrange > Send to Back (Command + Shift + Left Bracket key).


Step 11

Fill the rectangle with a linear gradient from the Gradient panel. For this gradient we are going to add an extra Color Stop to the gradient. To do this, click in the middle right below the Gradient Slider in the Gradient panel. Change the first Color Stop to a khaki color, the second to a light khaki color, and the last Color Stop to a darker khaki color than the first.


Step 12

With the Gradient Tool (G), adjust the gradient by clicking at the top of the rectangle and dragging to the bottom.


Step 13

With the Rectangle Tool (M), create a rectangle that is very small in comparison to the gradient rectangle just created. Make sure the rectangle is taller than it is wide. The one I created is roughly 13 px wide by 90 px tall. Your measurements might vary depending on the size of your text and document. Place the rectangle towards the bottom-left of the document.


Step 14

Fill the rectangle with a 40 percent gray and then go Effect > Sketch > Graphic Pen. Once in the Graphic Pen dialog, change the Stroke Length to 15, the Light/Dark Balance to 100, and the Stroke Direction to Horizontal.


Step 15

With the Graphic Pen rectangle selected, go Object > Expand Appearance. Once expanded, the Control panel defaults to the Live Trace Option. In the Control panel, press the Tracing Presets and Options button (the small arrow button in-between the Live Trace and Mask button) and chose One Color Logo from the list. Next, press the Expand button in the Control Panel.


Step 16

With the texture selected, use the Selection Tool (V) and scale the texture vertically and horizontally until it is slightly bigger than the gradient rectangle.


Step 17

Select both the texture and the gradient rectangle, then Send them to the back (Command + Shift + Left Bracket key). Next, select the gradient rectangle, Copy (Command + C) and Paste in Front (Command + F).

Select the copied rectangle and the texture, then press the Intersect button in the Pathfinder panel. Now, change the fill of the texture to a khaki color and change the Blending mode to Multiply from the Transparency panel.


Step 18

Select the "The Text" and fill it with a Radial Gradient from the Gradient panel. Change the first Color Stop to red and the second to a darker red. Next, change the blending mode to Multiply from the Transparency panel.


Step 19

With the "The" text selected, Copy (Command + C) and Paste in Front (Command + F) twice. Select the top copy and move it to the left and down slightly.

Select the moved copy and the copy underneath, then press the Minus Front button in the Pathfinder panel. Change the fill on the new shape to a light brown and set the blending mode to Multiply from the Transparency panel.


Step 20

If you zoom into some of the "The" text you will see little areas where the Minus pathfinder command went into the next letter. To clean some of this up, use the Delete Anchor Point Tool (-), and selectively delete some point to create a more consistent shape.


Step 21

Repeat Steps 18 through 20 with the "Bar and Grill" text. Make sure to Ungroup (Command + Shift + G) the star shape from the text before you start the steps.


Step 22

Select the "Western" text, the shapes above "Western," the star shapes, then fill them with a light brown color, and set the blending mode to Multiply.


Step 23

Repeat Steps 19 through 20 for each of the "Western" text, shapes above "Western," and the star shapes.


Step 24

Select the "Western" text and the shapes above it, then go Object > Path > Offset. In the Offset dialog change the Offset to -5 px (this measurement might actually be different depending on the size of you text, basically you want the offset to inset the original shape slightly).


Step 25

Fill the Offset shapes with a 20 percent gray and change the blending mode to Soft Light from the Transparency panel.


Step 26

With the offset shapes still selected, go Effect > Stylize > Feather, then in the Feather dialog change the Feather Radius to 8 px (again, depending on the size of your text, the Feather Radius might be larger or smaller).


Step 27

Now that the text is done, we can dress it up with some bullet holes! First, pick a spot for your first bullet hole. With the Pencil Tool (N), draw small uneven ellipse shape. Fill the shape with a light brown and set it to Multiply.


Step 28

Draw another smaller ellipse shape with the Pencil Tool (N) and fill it with black. Also, draw some black ripple like shapes around the black ellipse with the Pencil Tool (N).


Step 29

With the Pencil Tool (N), draw a smoke shape coming out of the bullet hole. Fill the Shape with a 10 percent black and set the Opacity to 0 from the Transparency panel.


Step 30

Draw another smoke shape within the first, fill it with white, and change the Opacity to 50 percent.


Step 31

Select both smoke shapes and go Object > Blend > Make.


Step 32

Create as many bullet holes throughout the piece as you want. All done!


Final Image

Again below is a final image of the text treatment.


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