Shaded Text Effect Illustrator Tutorial

Hello everyone this is Chris from Spoon Graphics back with another video tutorial for Adobe Illustrator Today I'm going to share a technique I actually covered in a written tutorial on my Spoon Graphics website just last month, but it's a really cool effect that doesn't take long at all to produce, making it perfect for a video tutorial too! So what we'll be creating is a shaded type effect, which applies little shadows to cursive lettering where the strokes loop and overlap, to give the impression that the characters interweave

The artwork we’ll be creating in this tutorial features the word ‘Love’ in a bold, flowing script font with the addition of those shaded elements, further enhanced with grain filters and dusty textures to distress the artwork and finish it off with a low-fi appearance But first, if you *love* making cool stuff like this, then check out Envato Elements, the ultimate creative toolkit for designers So to create the shaded type effect, begin by making a new document in Adobe Illustrator

Set out your type using a font, or if you're a talented hand-letterer, this same process can be used to enhance your lettering pieces once they've been traced I'm using a ready-made font named Monday, which has an elegant appearance with swashes and interlocking letters We need to work with the shapes of the letters, so right click and select Create Outlines Move the text off the artboard into some empty space so we can give it a white fill Make a copy of the text using the Edit > Copy and Edit > Paste in Front menu options

This duplicate will be used later with the Pathfinder tool Before continuing, make sure you have Smart Guides enabled under the view menu, otherwise you're going to have a tough time lining things up Select the Pen tool and zoom into the document Starting with the first letter, look out for a spot where the stroke might overlap itself if you were drawing the type by hand Snap a point on one side where the intersection starts, then click and drag a point on the other side and extend the bezier handle to continue the outline

Make a couple more rough clicks to extend the shape back along the letter stroke and back to the starting point to make a complete shape Give this shape a recognisable fill colour, such as the bright cyan swatch Hold the CMD, or CTRL key on Windows, and click on some empty space to deselect this shape, then start drawing a new shape on the opposite side where this stroke overlaps itself Match the curvature of the outline with a smooth curve, then roughly complete the path to form a shape Deselect, then move on to the next letter to find another overlapping stroke

You can choose which side of the stroke will appear on top by placing the shadows on either the top and bottom, or left and right Wherever you place them, just take care on the first smooth path that neatly continues the outline, then roughly complete the shape You can also add shading on letters with crossbars, or where a script joins with the next character Sometimes it's easier to turn on Outline Mode under the View menu, or the CMD+Y shortcut to better see the outline you need to follow As with the other shading shapes, once the main path has been drawn, the rest can be roughly finished off as long as the shape is created large enough to contain the shading gradients later

Add those blue shapes along the rest of the type wherever you want to simulate the strokes overlapping Use the Magic Wand tool to quickly select all the blue shapes, then go to Object > Compound Path > Make so they work properly with the Pathfinder tool We also need to make a compound path of the letters, but first they need ungrouping to break them apart Right click and choose Ungroup, then go to Object > Compound Path > Make again, or hit the CMD+8 shortcut Hold the Shift key and add the blue shapes to the selection

Since they're now a compound path all it takes is one click to select them all Open up the Pathfinder panel and click the Intersect button to trim the blue shapes down to the outline of the text Change the temporary cyan fill to a black-to-white gradient Right click and Ungroup the shading elements, then deselect and click the first shape Grab the Gradient tool from the toolbar, then click and drag to alter the gradient flow

Aim to angle it so it follows the direction of the stroke, flowing from light to dark Make sure the gradient starts within the shape so it isn't cut off with a hard edge Go through each shape in turn and alter the gradient direction You can toggle back to the selection tool by holding the command key while the gradient tool is active, in order to quickly select the next shape When it comes to the shapes that don't cover the whole stroke, it might take a few attempts to get the angle right so the gradient isn't cut off by its container

Once all the gradients have been altered the basic effect is complete, but we can customise it further to give it some cool grungy effects Use the Magic Wand tool to select all the gradients, then go to Effect > Texture > Grain Set the Grain Type to Stippled, then change the settings to 50 Intensity and 20 Contrast to give it more of a hand-drawn stippled look To add some texturing, draw a selection around all the elements and group them together Click the Make Mask button in the Transparency panel, then activate the little square thumbnail on the right to enter the mask

Download and open one of my free film dust textures and drag one into Illustrator It will be placed directly into the mask, but the Invert Mask button needs clicking to flip the blacks and whites the right way round so it creates the right distressed effect Click on the box on the left in the Transparency panel to exit back out of mask mode A film dust texture can also be used as a background for the artwork to complement the gritty style Go to File > Place and choose a texture

To position it underneath the text, right click and choose Arrange > Send to Back The final result is shaded type effect where the letter strokes appear to weave, loop and overlap, simply produced by a series of gradient-filled shapes in key places within the text outline The artwork can be left clean and crisp, or distressed with grain effects and dusty textures to give the design a gritty hand-made appearance If you enjoyed this tutorial or learnt anything new, a Like would be really appreciated to help recommend the video to others Subscribe to the Spoon Graphics YouTube Channel to stick around for more, and sign up to my mailing list over at my Spoon Graphics website to get more free resources and notifications of all my content beyond YouTube

As always thank you very much for watching, and I'll see you in the next one!

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