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  1. Design & Illustration
  2. Text Effects
Design

Use a Pattern Rope Brush to Create a Rope Text Effect in Illustrator

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

In the following steps, you will learn how to create a pretty simple rope brush in Illustrator and how to use it to create a nice text effect.

For starters, you will learn how to create the main rope piece using the Rectangle Tool, basic blending and vector shape building techniques, and the Live Corners feature. Next, you will learn how to easily multiply your rope pieces and how to create the rope ends. 

Moving on, you will learn how to create the pattern brush components using the Shape Builder Tool and some basic moving techniques. Finally, you will learn how to create your rope pattern brush and how to turn into a nice text effect.

1. 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 1075 in the width box and 1280 in the height box, and then click on the Advanced button. Select RGB, Screen (72ppi) and make sure that the Align New Objects to Pixel Grid box is unchecked before you click OK.

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. 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.

Rope Text Effect

2. Create the Main Rope Piece

Step 1

Pick the Rectangle Tool (M) and focus on your toolbar. Remove the color from the stroke, and then select the fill and set its color to R=239 G=203 B=124. Move to your artboard and simply create a 15 px square—the Snap to Grid feature should ease your work.

Rope Text Effect

Step 2

Focus on the right side of your square and pick the Direct Selection Tool (A). Select both anchor points and simply drag them 25 px up. Again, the Snap to Grid will come in handy.

Rope Text Effect

Step 3

Make sure that the Direct Selection Tool (A) is still active, select the anchor point highlighted by the red circle in the following image, and go to the control panel. Open the Corners fly-out window, check the Corner: Round and the Rounding: Relative buttons, and  enter a 1.5 px radius. Make sure that the Direct Selection Tool (A) remains selected, select the two anchor points highlighted by the green circles, and return to the control panel.

Again, open the Corners fly-out window, check the Corner: Round and the Rounding: Absolute buttons, and enter a 17 px radius. Move to the anchor point highlighted by the blue circle, select it, and get back to the control panel. Open the Corners fly-out window, check the Corner: Round and the Rounding: Relative buttons, and enter a 2 px radius. In the end, your shape should look like in the second image. Move to the Layers panel (Window > Layers), double click on your shape, and rename it "main".

Rope Text Effect

Step 4

Disable the Snap to Grid (View > Snap to Grid), and then go to Edit > Preferences > General and make sure that the Keyboard Increment is set to 1 px. Reselect your "main" shape and make two copies in front (Control-C > Control-F > Control-F). Select the top copy and move it 1 px to the left using the left arrow button on your keyboard.

Reselect both copies made in this step, open the Pathfinder panel (Window > Pathfinder), and click the Minus Front button. Make sure that the resulting shape is selected and replace the existing fill color with R=219 G=183 B=104.

Rope Text Effect

Step 5

Reselect your "main" shape and make two copies in front (Control-C > Control-F > Control-F). Select the top copy and move it 2 px to the left using that same left arrow button from your keyboard. Reselect both copies made in this step and click the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Make sure that the resulting shape is selected and replace the existing fill color with R=189 G=153 B=74.

Rope Text Effect

Step 6

Reselect your "main" shape, make a copy in front (Control-C > Control-F), select it and move it 1 px down and 1 px to the right. Make sure that this fresh copy is still selected and duplicate it (Control-C > Control-F). Select this new copy and move it 1 px down and 1 px to the right.

Reselect both copies made in this step and click the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Make sure that the resulting shape is selected and replace the existing fill color with white (R=255 G=255 B=255).

Rope Text Effect

Step 7

Reselect your "main" shape and make a copy in front (Control-C > Control-F). Select it along with the white shape and click the Intersect button from the Pathfinder panel.

Make sure that the resulting shape stays selected, open the Transparency panel (Window > Transparency), lower the Opacity to 50%, and change the Blending Mode to Overlay.

Rope Text Effect

Step 8

Reselect your "main" shape and make two copies in front (Control-C > Control-F > Control-F). Select the top copy and move it 1 px down and 1 px to the right.

Reselect both copies made in this step and click the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Make sure that the resulting shape is selected and replace the existing fill color with R=219 G=183 B=104.

Rope Text Effect

Step 9

Reselect your "main" shape, focus on the Appearance panel (Window > Appearance), add a 1 pt stroke, and set its color to R=169 G=133 B=54.

Keep focusing on the Appearance panel, click on the "Stroke" piece of text to open the Stroke fly-out window, and check the Align Stroke to Outside button. In the end, things should look like in the following image.

Rope Text Effect

Step 10

Select all the shapes created so far, and hit Control-G to Group them.

Rope Text Effect

3. Multiply the Rope Piece

Step 1

Make sure that your group of shapes is selected, and go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Enter the properties shown in the following image, click OK, and then go to Object > Expand Appearance. Move to the Layers panel and rename the resulting group "ropeOne".

Rope Text Effect

Step 2

Reselect your "ropeOne" group and go to Object > Transform > Move. Enter 35 in the Horizontal box, and click the Copy button. Move to the Layers panel and rename the newly created group "ropeTwo".

Rope Text Effect

4. Create the Torn Rope Ends

Step 1

Enable the Snap to Grid (View > Snap to Grid) and focus on the bottom side of your "ropeOne" group. Using the Pen Tool (P), create a simple path roughly as shown in the first image. Add a 1 pt stroke for this tiny path and set its color to R=169 G=133 B=54.

Using the same tool, add some new paths roughly as shown in the second image. There's only one thing that you should keep in mind. This set of curly paths should not get wider than 17 px (which is the width of your "ropeOne" group) because it would mess up your pattern brush. Still, if you wish to go wider, make sure that you have the same extra width on both sides (e.g. 2 px on the left side and 2 px on the right side).

Rope Text Effect

Step 2

Using the Pen Tool (P), add some new paths roughly as shown in the following image. Add a simple 1 px stroke for these new paths and set its color to R=149 G=113 B=40.

Rope Text Effect

Step 3

Reselect all the curly paths made in the last two steps and Group them (Control-G). Make sure that this new group is selected and simply hit Shift-Control-[ to send it to back.

Rope Text Effect

Step 4

Focus on the top side of your "ropeOne" group. Using the Pen Tool (P), create some new curly paths roughly as shown in the following images. Add the same Appearance attributes used for the other group of curly paths.

Rope Text Effect

Step 5

Reselect all the curly paths made in the previous steps and Group them (Control-G). Make sure that this new group is selected and send it to back (Shift-Control-[ )

Rope Text Effect

5. Create the Main Piece of the Pattern Brush

Step 1

Focus on your "ropeTwo" group. Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 19 x 17px shape, set the fill color to R=39 G=170 B=225, and place it exactly as shown in the first image. Make sure that this blue rectangle is still selected and send it to back (Shift-Control-[ ).

Rope Text Effect

Step 2

Select your "ropeTwo" group along with that blue rectangle and grab the Shape Builder Tool (Shift-M). Hold the Shift button from your keyboard, and then simply drag a selection along the top side of your group as shown in the following image. You might have to repeat this technique once or twice to make sure that you get rid of the really tiny shapes. Just make sure that you don't drag that selection over the edge of your blue rectangle.

Rope Text Effect

Step 3

Reselect your "ropeTwo" group along with the blue shapes and grab the Shape Builder Tool (Shift-M). Again, hold the Shift button from your keyboard and simply drag a new selection along the bottom side of your group as shown in the following image. Take a closer look at the edge—it's very important to make sure that you get rid of the really tiny shapes.

Rope Text Effect

Step 4

Select one of your blue shapes and simply go to Select > Same > Appearance to select the rest of the shapes with similar Appearance attributes. Once you have all these shapes selected, hit the Delete button from your keyboard to remove them from your artboard. In the end, things should look like in the third image. Move to the Layers panel and rename the remaining group "ropeBody".

Rope Text Effect

6. Create the End Sides of Your Pattern Brush

Step 1

Focus on your "ropeOne" group. Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 19 x 17px shape, set the fill color to R=39 G=170 B=225, and place it exactly as shown in the first image.

Rope Text Effect

Step 2

Select your "ropeOne" group along with that blue rectangle and grab the Shape Builder Tool (Shift-M). Hold the Shift button from your keyboard and simply drag a selection along your blue rectangle as shown in the following image. Make sure that you remove all the tiny shapes that intersect with your blue rectangle, and then select the remaining blue shapes and simply Delete them.

Rope Text Effect

Step 3

Reselect your "ropeBody" group, drag it to the left, and place it as shown in the second image.

Rope Text Effect

7. Create Your Pattern Brush

Step 1

Reselect all the shapes made so far, and go to Object > Transform > Rotate. Enter a -90 Degrees and click OK.

Rope Text Effect

Step 2

Focus on the Layers panel and simply turn off the visibility for your "ropeBody" group. Pick the Direct Selection Tool (A), focus on your artboard, select all the shapes highlighted in the second image, and simply drag them into the Swatches panel (Window > Swatches) to save them as a pattern.

Keep focusing on the Swatches panel, double-click on your new pattern, and rename it "endTile". Make sure that the Direct Selection Tool (A) is still active, select all the shapes highlighted in the third image, and save them as a new pattern. Return to the Swatches panel and rename this second pattern "startTile".

Rope Text Effect

Step 3

Focus on the Layers panel and turn on the visibility for your "ropeBody" group. Select it, open the Brushes panel (Window > Brushes), and click the New Brush button (indicated by the little blue arrow in the following image). Check the Pattern Brush box and click OK to open the Pattern Brush Options window. Enter "rope" in the Name box, drag the Scale slider to 70%, and then move down to the Tile boxes.

Open the Start Tile drop-down window and add the "startTile" pattern from that list, and then open the End Tile drop-down window and add the "endTile" pattern. Finally, click OK and you should find your new pattern brush in the Brushes panel.

Rope Text Effect

8. Create the Text Effect

Step 1

Pick the Type Tool (T), click on your artboard, and add your black text. Make sure that it stays selected and open the Character panel (Window > Type > Character). Select the "Edwardian Script ITC" font, and then set the size to 350 pt. Lower the Opacity of your text to 30%, and then move to the Layers panel and lock it to make sure that you won't accidentally select/move it.

Rope Text Effect

Step 2

Using the Pen Tool (P) or the Paintbrush Tool (B) (if you happen to own a tablet), draw a smooth path along your text as shown in the following image. Try to use the text in the back as a rough reference. For starters, use a simple, black stroke for your path.

Rope Text Effect

Step 3

Once you feel that your path looks good enough, replace the black stroke with your "rope" pattern brush. Also, move to the Layers panel and simply remove the locked piece of text.

Rope Text Effect

Step 4

Make sure that your text path is still selected, focus on the Appearance panel, and add a second stroke using the Add New Stroke button (indicated by the little blue arrow in the following image). Select this new stroke, set the color to black, make it 10 pt wide, and open the Stroke panel (Window > Stroke). Focus on the Profile section, open the drop-down menu, and select the Width Profile 1.

Rope Text Effect

Step 5

Make sure that your text path is still selected, focus on the Appearance panel, and reselect that black stroke. Lower its Opacity to 10%, change the Blending Mode to Color Burn, and go to Effect > Artistic > Film Grain. Enter the properties shown in the following image and click OK.

Rope Text Effect

Step 6

Reselect your text path and focus on the Appearance panel. Make sure that the entire path is selected (simply click on the "Path" piece of text from the top of the Appearance panel), and go to Effect > Stylize > Drop Shadow. Enter the properties shown in the top left window (in the following image), click OK, and then add the other four Drop Shadow effects shown in the following image.

Rope Text Effect

Step 7

Make sure that your text path is still selected, open the Graphic Styles panel (Window > Graphic Styles), and simply click the New Graphic Style button (indicated by the little blue arrow in the following image) to save a new graphic style.

Rope Text Effect

Step 8

Reselect the Pen Tool (P) and add some new text paths roughly as shown in the first image. Once you feel that things look good enough, select all your new paths and simply click on your saved graphic style from the Graphic Styles panel.

Rope Text Effect

Step 9

Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a shape the size of your artboard, set the fill color to R=230 G=230 B=230, and send it to back (Shift-Control-[ ). Make sure that this new rectangle stays selected, focus on the Appearance panel, and add a second fill using the Add New Fill button (indicated by the little blue arrow in the following image). Select this new fill, set the color to black, lower its Opacity to 3%, change the Blending Mode to Multiply, and go to Effect > Artistic > Film Grain. Enter the properties shown in the following image and click OK.

Rope Text Effect

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.

Rope Text Effect
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