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  1. Design & Illustration
  2. Blend Tool
Design

How to Use the Blend Tool for Lettering in Adobe Illustrator

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

Have you ever wondered what tools you can use to make lettering more attractive than it already is? The Blend Tool is easy to use, and you can quickly bring more life to script letters! 

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What Will You Need

You'll need access to Adobe Illustrator; if you don't have the software you can download a trial from the Adobe website. You'll also need the following:

1. Open the Line File Provided

Open the Adobe Illustrator line file. This file is already set up as a 1080 px x 1080 px document in RGB at 72ppi.

Open the file provided with the lined script word hi

2. How to Create the Initial Stroke for the Lettering

Step 1

Head over to the toolbar and click on the Rectangle Tool. Click and hold to expand the options and select the Ellipse Tool (L). Hold Option-Shift to draw an even circle expanding from the centre; I am choosing a size of 64 px. This circle will dictate the size of the stroke.

Create a circle using the Ellipse Tool

Step 2

We want to add a gradient to the new shape we created. Select the shape and head over to the toolbar. Select the outline swatch and click on none. Select the Fill swatch and select Gradient.

Change the Fill of the circle to a gradient and no stroke

Step 3

We want to give color to this gradient, so let’s open our Gradient panel by going to Window > Gradient. Select one side of the gradient slider and on the Color bar select the color you wish to use. Any color you would like to use is fine—just make sure one side of the slider is light and the other side is dark. This will give more dimension to the artwork. I am choosing blue, with the color code #3CD9FF for the left slider and #0000FF for the right slider.

Change the gradient to a blue color

Step 4

Let’s multiply the shape by pressing Option-Shift and dragging to the right. I am choosing a purple color for this other shape with the following codes: #FF9BFF and #7900FF.

Duplicate the circle element and add another color to the new circle

3. How to Use the Blend Tool

Step 1

Select both shapes and select the Blend Tool (W). Click on the left point of both circles, starting with the blue and then the purple circle. 

Using the blend tool blend both circles

Step 2

Everybody will get something different, but we want to make a smooth transition. While selecting the shape, double click on the Blend Tool on the toolbar to open the Blend Options window. Under Spacing, select Specified Distance and check the Preview box. Change the Specified Distance to 1 px to get a smooth transition. Click OK.

Open the Blend Options and change the Specified Distance to 1px

Step 3

Select the shape and select the line type. Head over to Object > Blend > Replace Spine. This option will substitute the stroke for the shape we just created while maintaining the two initial shapes we used at the beginning and end of the word. On the right side is a preview (Command-Y) of the elements.

Replace the spine of the main lettering with the blended element

Step 4

Using the Direct Selection Tool (A), we can duplicate a dot for the "i". Select the circle on the right and press Command-C followed by Command-V and place the newly created circle over the "i".

Create a dot by copying and pasting a circle with the Direct Selection Tool

Step 5

Let’s add color to the background. Select the Rectangle Tool (M) and create a black square on the artboard. Press Shift-Command-[ to move the square to the back and dock the element by pressing Command-2.

Add a black square background

Step 6

Let’s add some serif text to make the artwork look intricate. Using the Text Tool (T), click on the artboard and type “BYE”. I am choosing Playfair Display at 445 pt in white. 

Using the text tool add the word bye

Step 7

While selecting the text element, press Shift-Command-O to create outlines on the text, followed by Shift-Command-G to ungroup the word.

Transform the text into outlines

4. How to Use the Eraser Tool

We want to create the illusion of the script element intertwining with the serif font. Let’s bring the B forward by selecting it and pressing Shift-Command-]. 

For the "Y", we can create more dimension as we have the "h" going around the letter. Select the "Y" and press Shift-Command-V to duplicate the element in the same place. This will duplicate it over the script element. On the toolbar, select the Eraser Tool (Shift-E) and start brushing over the segments of the "Y" that you want to be in front. Make sure that the "Y" element you are selecting is the one in front. Try to follow the same outline of the script face to erase the rest of the letter.

The Eraser Tool erases elements that are being selected; if we are not selecting anything, the Eraser Tool will work the same way it works in Adobe Photoshop. I did the same with the "E" letter to look like below. It's up to you to decide which parts you want to bring forward and to keep in the back!

Below you can see the left side has the letters over the script, and the shapes on the right side in yellow are the ones I used the Eraser Tool on. 

Duplicate the letters over the hi word and using the Eraser Tool erase parts of the word that you want to display forward

5. How to Add Drop Shadow

Let’s give this artwork more dimension. Select the script element and head over to Effect > Stylize > Drop Shadow. Check the Preview box and use the following settings:

Add Drop Shadow to the hi script element

6. How to Save the File

To save the file, head over to File > Save As … to save the file as an Adobe Illustrator file. If you wish to save as a JPEG or other image file format, head over to File > Export and choose the format. Feel free to check Use Artboards if you have placed elements outside of your artboard in the document. Click Export.

Save the file as AI or export it for JPEG

Congratulations! You've Finished This Tutorial!

In this tutorial, we’ve paired an easy-to-use tool with lettering to create an intertwined look. Today we’ve learned to:

  • Use the Blend Tool to create a gradient-style pen stroke.
  • Replace the spine of an object with a blended element.
  • Add shadow to create a sense of dimension in the artwork.
End result

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