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  1. Design & Illustration
  2. Adobe Illustrator

How to Create an Engraved Effect in Illustrator

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What You'll Be Creating

In the following tutorial, you will learn how to create an engraved effect in Illustrator using patterns and some effects.

First, you will learn how to create your own set of patterns. Then you will learn how to create the engraved effect in Illustrator by tracing a photo and using the patterns. Finally, using some effects and a linear gradient, you will learn how to finish your engraving effect in Illustrator.

If you don't have the time to learn how to create an engraved effect in Illustrator, you can always try Envato Elements where you can find anything from engraving brushes for Illustrator to engraved text effects. This set of engraving brushes for Illustrator is just one of the many examples.

engraving brushes illustratorengraving brushes illustratorengraving brushes illustrator

Do you prefer video tutorials over detailed written guides? Then don't forget to visit the Envato Tuts+ YouTube channel! You can learn how to create an engraved effect in Illustrator by following this new tutorial:

What You'll Learn in This Illustrator Engraving Effect Tutorial

  • How to create an engraved effect in Illustrator
  • How to create a carved effect in Illustrator
  • How to create patterns for an Illustrator engraving effect

What You'll Need

You will need the following resource in order to complete this engraved effect Illustrator tutorial:

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, set the Width to 850 px and the Height to 1270 px, and then click that Advanced Options button. Select RGB for the Color Mode and set the Raster Effects to Screen (72 ppi), and then click the Create button.

Enable the Grid (View > Show Grid or Control-") and Snap to Grid (View > Snap to Grid or Shift-Control-"). 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 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. All these options will significantly increase your work speed. Now that you're set, let's learn how to create an engraved effect in Illustrator.

illustrator new documentillustrator new documentillustrator new document

2. How to Create Patterns for an Illustrator Engraved Effect

Step 1

Focus on your toolbar and pick the Line Tool (/), and then focus on the color settings. Select the fill and remove the color, and then double-click the stroke and set it to black (R=0 G=0 B=0).

Move to your artboard and simply create a 190 px horizontal line. You can either click and drag while holding down the Shift key to make sure that you're creating a perfect horizontal line, or you can click on your artboard to open the Line Segment Tool Options window. Set the Length to 190 px and the Angle to 0 degrees, and then click OK to create this line.

Keep this line selected, move to the Appearance panel (Window > Appearance), and lower the stroke Weight to 0.5 pt.

linelineline

Step 2

Make sure that your line stays selected and go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Zig Zag. Enter the settings shown in the following image and then click OK.

zig zag effectzig zag effectzig zag effect

Step 3

Make sure that your line is still selected and go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Drag the Move-Vertical slider to 5 px and set the number of Copies to 10, and then click OK to apply the effect.

transform effecttransform effecttransform effect

Step 4

Pick the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 190 x 30 px shape and place it exactly as shown in the first image.

Remove the fill and stroke colors that are applied to this shape which will make your shape invisible, and then press Shift-Control-[ to send your rectangle to the back.

rectangle invisiblerectangle invisiblerectangle invisible

Step 5

Using the Selection Tool (V), select your invisible rectangle along with the horizontal line and simply drag them into the Swatches panel (Window > Swatches) to save them as a pattern.

save pattern illustratorsave pattern illustratorsave pattern illustrator

Step 6

Select just that horizontal line and increase the stroke Weight to 1 pt.

Reselect that invisible rectangle along with the horizontal line, and again drag them into the Swatches panel to save them as a new pattern.

add pattern illustratoradd pattern illustratoradd pattern illustrator

Step 7

Once again, select that horizontal line and increase the stroke Weight to 2 pt.

Reselect that invisible rectangle along with your line, and drag them into the Swatches panel to save them as a new pattern.

create pattern illustratorcreate pattern illustratorcreate pattern illustrator

Step 8

One last time, select that horizontal line and increase the stroke Weight to 3 pt.

Reselect both shapes and drag them into the Swatches panel to save them as a pattern. Once you're done, feel free to delete these shapes. Now that you've got all four patterns, let's see how you can use them to create an engraving effect in Illustrator.

make pattern illustratormake pattern illustratormake pattern illustrator

3. How to Convert a Photo Into Vector Shapes

Step 1

For this design, we'll use this Black and White Portrait Photo from Envato Elements. Download it and drag it into your Illustrator document.

Keep it selected and focus on the control panel. First, make sure that the Constrain Width and Height Proportions button is checked, and lower the Width to 870 px.

Move to the align settings and be sure that Align to Artboard is checked, and then click the Horizontal Align Center and Vertical Align Center buttons. This will move your photo to the center of the artboard.

illustrator import photoillustrator import photoillustrator import photo

Step 2

Make sure that your photo is still selected and keep focusing on the control panel. First, click the Image Trace button and then the Image Trace Panel button.

Drag the Threshold slider to 120 and then click that Advanced arrow button to get access to the rest of the settings. Set the Paths to 100%, the Corners to 50%, and the Noise to 100 px, keeping the Fills box checked and the Strokes box unchecked. Disable the Snap Curves To Lines box, and don't forget to enable the Ignore White setting.

illustrator trace photoillustrator trace photoillustrator trace photo

Step 3

Make sure that your traced image is still selected, and lower its Opacity to 30%. We're about to add three copies of this image, and having the opacity lowered will allow you to see all your traced images as you're adjusting the copies.

opacityopacityopacity

Step 4

Make sure that your traced image is selected and press Control-C to copy it, and then Control-F to add a copy in front. Keep this copy selected, open the Image Trace panel, and just lower the Threshold to 60.

image trace illustratorimage trace illustratorimage trace illustrator

Step 5

Make sure that the traced image added in the previous step is still selected, and add a new copy in front (Control-C > Control-F). Keep it selected, reopen the Image Trace panel, and lower the Threshold to 35.

image trace illustratorimage trace illustratorimage trace illustrator

Step 6

Again, duplicate the traced image added in the previous step (Control-C > Control-F). Keep this copy selected, open the Image Trace panel, and this time lower the Threshold to 30.

As you can see, the key with these four images is to gradually reduce the amount of black using that Threshold slider. Keep in mind that the Threshold values that should be used will vary depending on the photo that you choose to use.

image trace illustratorimage trace illustratorimage trace illustrator

4. How to Create an Engraved Effect in Illustrator

Step 1

Focus on the Layers panel (Window > Layers) and turn off the visibility for your top three images. Select the remaining one and increase its Opacity to 100%, and then click the Expand button from the control panel. Press Control-8 or go to Object > Compound Path > Make to turn your resulting group of shapes into a single compound path.

image trace compound pathimage trace compound pathimage trace compound path

Step 2

Make sure that your compound path is still selected, fill it with your first pattern from the Swatches panel, and then go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform.

Disable that Transform Objects box and keep the Transform Patterns box checked to make sure that this effect will only influence the applied pattern. Set the Angle to 25 degrees to easily rotate the pattern, and then click OK to apply the effect.

apply pattern illustratorapply pattern illustratorapply pattern illustrator

Step 3

Return to the Layers panel to turn on the visibility for your second image. Select it and increase the Opacity to 100%.

Click that Expand button from the control panel again, and then turn the resulting group of shapes into a compound path (Control-8 or Object > Compound Path > Make).

image trace compound pathimage trace compound pathimage trace compound path

Step 4

Fill this new compound path with your second pattern from the Swatches panel, and then go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform.

Again, disable that Transform Objects box and keep the Transform Patterns box checked. This time, set the Angle to -45 degrees, and then you can click OK to apply the effect.

rotate pattern illustratorrotate pattern illustratorrotate pattern illustrator

Step 5

Return to the Layers panel to turn on the visibility for your third image, and increase its Opacity back to 100%.

Expand this image and then turn the resulting group of shapes into a compound path (Control-8 or Object > Compound Path > Make).

image trace compound pathimage trace compound pathimage trace compound path

Step 6

Fill this new compound path with your third pattern from the Swatches panel, and then go to Effect > Apply Transform or press Shift-Control-E to apply the same Transform effect that we used for the previous compound path.

rotate pattern illustratorrotate pattern illustratorrotate pattern illustrator

Step 7

Return to the Layers panel to turn on the visibility for your remaining image, and don't forget to increase the Opacity back to 100%.

Expand this image, and again turn the resulting group of shapes into a compound path (Control-8 or Object > Compound Path > Make).

image trace compound pathimage trace compound pathimage trace compound path

Step 8

Fill this last compound path with your fourth pattern from the Swatches panel, and then go again to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform.

Disable that Transform Objects box and set the Angle to 15 degrees, and then you can click OK to apply the effect.

pattern illustrator rotatepattern illustrator rotatepattern illustrator rotate

Step 9

Make sure that your top compound path stays selected, and focus on the Appearance panel.

Change the Blending Mode to Multiply, and then go to Effect > Artistic > Film Grain. Enter the settings shown below and click OK, and then go to Effect > Brush Strokes > Spatter. Enter the attributes shown in the following image and click OK.

pattern filter effectpattern filter effectpattern filter effect

5. How to Create the Background

Step 1

Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create an 870 x 1290 px rectangle and center it using the same Horizontal Align Center and Vertical Align Center buttons from the control panel.

Send this rectangle to the back (Shfit-Control-[) and make sure that the fill is selected. Open the Gradient panel (Window > Gradient) and click that Linear Gradient button to easily apply a linear gradient. Set the Angle to 90 degrees and then focus on the gradient sliders to adjust the applied gradient.

Double-click the left one and set the color to R=110 G=130 B=100, move to the right one and replace the existing color with R=220 G=240 B=230, and then click on the gradient bar to add a third gradient slider. Select it and set the Location to 50%, and then change the color to R=180 G=200 B=170.

linear gradientlinear gradientlinear gradient

Step 2

Make sure that the background rectangle stays selected and keep focusing on the Appearance panel.

First, click the Add New Fill button to add a second fill for your shape. Select this new fill and apply your first pattern from the Swatches panel, lower its Opacity to 75% and change the Blending Mode to Multiply, and then go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Disable that Transform Objects box and set the Angle to -25 degrees, and then you can click OK to apply the effect.

pattern engraved effectpattern engraved effectpattern engraved effect

Step 3

Make sure that the top fill is still selected, and go to Effect > Artistic > Film Grain. Enter the settings shown below and click OK, and then go to Effect > Brush Strokes > Spatter. Enter the attributes shown in the following image and click OK. With this final touch, your carved effect in Illustrator is complete.

pattern filter effectpattern filter effectpattern filter effect

Congratulations! You're Done!

Here’s how your Illustrator engraved effect 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 your own carved effect in Illustrator. You can find some great sources of inspiration at Envato Elements, with interesting solutions to create different styles of engraving effects in Illustrator.

illustrator engraving effectillustrator engraving effectillustrator engraving effect

Now that you know how it works, why not try different photos and create more carved effects in Illustrator? Here's an example I created using this Angry Yelling Male photo.

engraved effect illustratorengraved effect illustratorengraved effect illustrator

Popular Resources From Envato Elements

Envato Elements is an excellent resource for engraved text effects, engraving Illustrator brushes, and other Illustrator engraving effects. Here's a short list of some of the most popular assets that you can find.

Engraved Repeat Patterns (EPS)

Here's another set of patterns that you can use to easily create engraved effects in Illustrator. Feel free to try one of these 16 patterns, and keep in mind that you can always adapt the colors to suit your needs.

engraved patternsengraved patternsengraved patterns

Antique Print Effect Brushes (Ai)

Give your designs and illustrations an authentic vintage look using this set of engraving brushes for Illustrator. The brushes are easy to use and will give you the freedom to create original engraving effects in Illustrator.

engraving brushes illustratorengraving brushes illustratorengraving brushes illustrator

Vintage Engraved Patterns (Ai)

Here's another impressive set of patterns that you can use to create engraved effects in Illustrator. A nifty font combined with a pattern from this pack will give you some incredibly realistic engraved text effects.

engraving patterns illustratorengraving patterns illustratorengraving patterns illustrator

Engraved Vector Text Effects (EPS)

Looking for something faster? This set of graphic styles is the perfect solution. All you have to do is select a piece of text or a shape and click one of the styles that come with this pack.

engraved text effectengraved text effectengraved text effect

Vintage Engrave Pattern for Ps, Ai and Procreate (AI, PAT, BRUSHSET)

Looking for something that's not limiting you to Illustrator? Check out this set of assets to create engraving effects in Illustrator, Photoshop, or Procreate.

engraved effect illustrator photoshop procreateengraved effect illustrator photoshop procreateengraved effect illustrator photoshop procreate
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