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Design

How to Create a Knitting Themed Text Effect in Adobe Illustrator

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

In the following steps you will learn how to create a thread text effect in Adobe Illustrator. For starters, you will learn how to set up a simple grid. Taking full advantage of the Snap to Grid feature and the Transform effect, you will learn how to easily create a set of horizontal and vertical paths. Using the Warp effect and the Shape Builder Tool, you will create a pretty simple outline of a ball of wool. Finally, you'll learn how to save and use patterns and pattern brushes.

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

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 600 in the height box, and then click that Advanced button. Select RGB for the Color Mode, set the Raster Effects to Screen (72 ppi), and then click the Create Document button.

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 can learn more about Illustrator's grid system in this short tutorial from 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 > General. All these options will significantly increase your work speed.

setup grid

2. How to Create the Vertical Paths

Step 1

Pick the Ellipse Tool (L) and focus on your toolbar. Remove the color from the stroke and then select the fill and set its color to R=137 G=147 B=150. Move to your artboard and simply create a 40 px circle—the grid and the Snap to Grid feature should make this easier.

Make sure that your shape remains selected, focus on the Appearance panel (Window > Appearance) or the Transparency panel (Window > Transparency), and lower the Opacity to 50%.

circle

Step 2

Using the Pen Tool (P) or the Line Segment Tool (\), create a 40 px vertical path and place it exactly as shown in the first image—once again, the grid and the Snap to Grid feature will come in handy. Add a 2 pt black stroke for this path and then go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Drag the Move-Horizontal slider to 4 px, enter 8 in that Copies box, and then click the OK button.

With your vertical path still selected, simply go to Object > Expand Appearance.

vertical path

Step 3

Make sure that your set of vertical paths is still selected and go to Effect > Warp > Arc. Check the Vertical box, drag the Bend slider to -30%, click the OK button, and then go to Object > Expand Appearance. Ungroup (Shift-Control-G) the resulting group of shapes—in this case you will have to hit that command twice.

warp

Step 4

Select all your black paths along with that yellow circle and pick the Shape Builder Tool (Shift-M). Hold the Alt button from your keyboard and simply draw a path along the top side of your black paths as shown in the first image. This should easily remove all those paths as shown in the second image.

Move to the bottom side and use the same technique to remove those paths as shown in the third image.

shape builder tool

Step 5

Keep focusing on your black paths and replace the black with the two colors shown in the following image.

green blue

3. How to Create Horizontal Paths

Step 1

Using the Pen Tool (P) or the Line Segment Tool (\), create a 40 px horizontal path and place it exactly as shown in the first image. Add a 2 pt purple stroke for this path, and then go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Drag the Move-Vertical slider to 4 px, enter 4 in that Copies box, and then click the OK button.

With your horizontal path still selected, simply go to Object > Expand Appearance.

transform effect

Step 2

Make sure that your set of purple horizontal paths is still selected, and go to Effect > Warp > Arc. Check the Horizontal box, drag the Bend slider to -30%, click the OK button, and then go to Object > Expand Appearance. Ungroup (Shift-Control-G) the resulting group of shapes.

warp

Step 3

Select all your purple paths along with that yellow circle and pick the Shape Builder Tool (Shift-M). Don't forget to hold the Alt button from your keyboard and simply draw a path along the right side of your purple paths as shown in the first image.

Move to the left side and use the same technique to remove those paths as shown in the third image.

shape builder tool

4. How to Slice Your Paths

Step 1

Select your purple paths along with the green ones and pick the Shape Builder Tool (Shift-M). Don't forget to hold the Alt button and draw a simple path between the top two purple paths. Using the same technique, draw new paths between the rest of your purple paths. In the end, things should look like in the fourth image.

shape builder tool

Step 2

Reselect your purple paths along with the blue ones and pick that same Shape Builder Tool (Shift-M). Don't forget to hold the Alt button, and draw a simple path between the two leftmost blue paths. Using the same technique, draw new paths between the rest of your blue paths. In the end things should look like in the fourth image.

shape builder tool

5. Add Black Strokes and the Needle

Step 1

Select your remaining paths and replace the existing stroke colors with black (R=0 G=0 B=0).

Select the circle and focus on the Appearance panel. Increase the Opacity to 100%, remove the color from the fill, and then select the stroke. Set its color to black and increase the Weight to 2 pt.

black stroke

Step 2

Using the Pen Tool (P) or the Line Tool (\), create a 12 px vertical path and place it as shown in the first image.

Select this path and focus on the Appearance panel. Make sure that there's no color set for the fill, set the stroke color to black, and then simply click that Stroke piece of text to open the Stroke fly-out panel. Set the Weight to 2 pt and check the Round Cap button.

Keep focusing on the shape made in this step and pick the Direct Selection Tool (A). Select the bottom anchor point and drag it 12 px to the left.

round cap

Step 3

Pick the Ellipse Tool (L) and create a 5 px circle. Fill this new shape with black and place it as shown in the following image.

black circle

6. How to Create the Pattern Brush Pieces

Step 1

Now, you will need a grid every 0.5 px, so go to Edit > Preferences > Guides & Grid and enter 0.5 in the Gridline every box.

Pick the Rectangle Tool (M) and create a 2 x 3 px shape. Fill this new shape with black and place it exactly as shown in the following image.

black rectangle

Step 2

Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 5 x 3 px shape, fill it with black, and place it as shown in the first image.

Keep focusing on this new rectangle, switch to the Delete Anchor Point Tool (-), and simply click on the bottom right anchor point to remove it. This should turn your rectangle into a triangle, as shown in the second image. Duplicate this shape (Control-C > Control-F), select the copy, drag it 3 px to the right, and then rotate it 180 degrees.

delete anchor point

Step 3

Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 3 px square, fill it with black, and place it as shown in the first image.

Focus on the right side of this new rectangle, pick the Add Anchor Point Tool (-), and using the click button add a new anchor point as shown in the second image. Switch to the Direct Selection Tool (A), select the newly added anchor point, and drag it 1 px to the left. Then select the top right anchor point and drag it 3 px to the right.

add anchor point

7. How to Save Patterns and Pattern Brushes

Step 1

Select all the shapes highlighted in the following image and simply drag them inside the Swatches panel (Window > Swatches) to save them as a pattern.

Deselect the shapes from your artboard and select that pattern from the Swatches panel (Window > Swatches). Open the fly-out menu from the Swatches panel and go to Swatch Options.... Rename your pattern "StartTile" and then click the OK button.

save pattern

Step 2

Select the shape highlighted in the following image and save it as a second pattern. Select this new pattern and rename it "EndTile". Once you have both patterns, you can remove the shapes used to create them from your artboard.

swatch options

Step 3

Select your two triangles, open the Brushes panel (Window > Brushes), and click that New Brush button. Check the Pattern Brush box and click the OK button. Pick a name for your pattern, drag the Scale slider to 150%, select Tints from the Colorization Method drop-down menu, make sure that the rest of the attributes are set as shown below, and then focus on the Tile boxes.

Simply open the Start Tile and add your "StartTile" pattern and then open the End Tile and add your "EndTile" pattern. Once you're done, click the OK button and your new pattern brush will show up in the Brushes panel.

pattern brush

8. How to Create the Text Effect

Step 1

Pick the Type Tool (T) and open the Character panel (Window > Type > Character). Select the Slow Motion font, and set the size to 500 pt and the tracking to 100.

Simply click on your artboard and add the "Knit" piece of text. Make it black and lower its Opacity to about 20%.

type tool

Step 2

Using the Pen Tool (P) or the Brush Tool (B), draw some smooth paths along your text roughly as shown below.

Once you're done, get rid of that piece of text and select all your new paths. Make sure that there's no color set for the fill, and select the stroke. Simply add your pattern brush from the Brushes panel and pick the color that you prefer.

brush tool

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.

Feel free to adjust the final design and make it your own. You can find a great source of inspiration at GraphicRiver, with interesting solutions for improving your design.

final product
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