Sometimes we, editorial-design-and-lettering lovers, need to divide the text in columns, paragraphs, sentences, words… But what if I told you that we're going to have fun cutting a word in half? Do you think I'm crazy? Do you think I'm ruining a typography? This is a creativity exercise with the aim of communicating, which for me is the core of any design product. If you don't believe me, ask David Carson (a very interesting author whom I suggest you to learn more about if you love everything about lettering).
This magazine designers said: "Don't mistake legibility for communication. Just because something's legible doesn't mean it communicates". With this, I think I justified more than enough this exercise. Shall we begin?
One of the main parts of this project is the color palette, which I selected carefully to achieve an effect that resembles comic book aesthetics, trying to get a dynamic feeling with a balance of bold colors.
In this section, I'll teach you how to load in your project the color palette that I used. Also, you'll learn how to save your own color palettes, so pay close attention.
First, we need to define our color palette. Honestly, it's very difficult to master the use of colors. It's not like I consider myself an expert. That's why, for my projects, I've used tools such as Adobe Color or Webgradients for the gradients.
Once you've chosen your color palette, you would need to load those colors into our project, but first we need to create one. I decided that my image will be used for web, so I chose one of the default formats for web that Illustrator offers. I also selected a landscape orientation and the RGB color mode.
With our empty document, let's open the Swatches panels. You can follow this step at any time, but, as I already chose my color palette, I'll do it now.
Now, I'll delete the default color palette so that I have only my own colors. To do that, I'll click on the hamburger button and then "Select All Unused".
You'll see that all unused colors will be highlighted in white. In this case, as we haven't done anything yet, you'll see that every single color will be selected, except black and white (if you had an ongoing design, the already used colors wouldn't be selected).
Now, we just have to drag them to the trashcan to delete them from the Swatches panel.
This step is actually optional, but it helps, especially if there's more than one person working on the project, or if you're sending this file to print, because you'll avoid problems related to workflow.
Next to the trashcan icon you'll see a post-it icon, which allows you to add a new color swatch. Once you've clicked on it, a new window will appear, where you'll need to enter the values for that color (you can choose to enter RGB, CMYK, Lab, hexadecimal values...) I went for the hexadecimal values, so I had to choose the Web Safe RGB color mode.
I'll enter the values two-by-two until I complete the hexadecimal RGB code.
This way, we'll add all the colors that we've previously selected.
Once we have all the colors loaded onto our Swatches panel, we can now export them. To do so, we need to click on the hamburger button and select "Save Swatch Library as ASE" or "Save Swatch Library as AI, depending on our preference. The ASE format is specific to Illustrator's swatch libraries, and the AI format is just an Illustrator file with the library already loaded.
I chose the ASE format, which is specific to swatch libraries. Once we select this option, we'll just need to enter the name and the place where we want to save the file.
On the other hand, if you need to load a library, you'll need to click on the icons resembling some books and then select the "Other Library" option. Then, locate your library and a new Swatches panel will appear, with the same name assigned to your library. If you want to try installing the library that I've created, you can download it here.
Can you see that the panel on the left has the same name as the library? With this, we'd be pretty much ready to begin with our design.
Cutting the text
In this section, we'll learn how to cut the text so that, in later steps, we can extrude it and turn it into 3D. After that, we'll be able to work with the color on each part.
Select the Type tool and write the word that you want to cut later. You can use any font you like and type the text all in caps or not. I chose the free font Roboto Slab, so my text will be all in caps because this font, used mainly for titles, has no lower-case letters.
Turn the font into strokes and scale however you want. Don't forget to hold the Shift key while scaling so that the font doesn't get deformed. To turn the font into strokes, select it, right-click and select "Create Outlines". Or you can just select the font and press Shift + Ctrl + O.
With the Line Segment tool, draw a line, which will be the one that divides our text in two.
Go to the Pathfinder panel. If you don't have it already open, don't worry. You can access any panel at any time. In this case, to open the Pathfinder panel, click on the Window menu → Pathfinder. Or you can just press Shift + Ctrl + F9.
Now that we have the Pathfinder panel open, select both the text and the line segment and click on Divide.
Now, we need to ungroup the parts that form the word. To do that, press Ctrl + Shift + G or right-click → Ungroup.
Select all the pieces that form the bottom part by clicking on them while holding the Control key. Once you have them selected, press Ctrl + G to group them. Then, repeat this with the pieces of the top part.
Now, select all the elements and paint them with the orange color that we have in our color palette (in case you're using the same as me). You'll see that, if you select everything, even the counters of the letters (the area of the letters enclosed by their shape) will be painted. This is not a problem. Just select them one by one and delete them.
Select the bottom part and move it however you like.
We're now ready to begin working on the extrusion of our text to give it a 3D effect.
Modeling the cuts
Next, we'll apply the 3D effect to beigin modeling our text. After that we'll just need to paint the different parts.
Select all the parts of our text and click on Effect → 3D → Extrude & Bevel…
Set up each of the parameters for the X, Y and Z axes to suit your needs, as this will greatly depend on the cut you've done, as well as the chosen word. Besides you can change the depth of the extrusion to your taste.
Once it is to your liking, press OK.
You'll see your text in 3D, but you won't be able to paint any of its layers. This is due to the element having just a 3D effect; its parts are actually no more than a preview. To work with every single piece, you just have to expand the appearance.
You can do that by clicking on the Object menu → Expand Appearance.
Select the pieces that form the sides. Sometimes, due to things related to the lighting of the pieces, the text might have been divided into more pieces than expected. To fix that, select them one by one while holding Shift and press Unite on the Pathfinder panel.
Repeat this with every piece that needs fixing.
Select all the pieces that form the sides and paint them with red. An easy way to select them is, while having selected just one of them, going to the Select menu → Same → Fill Color. But, in order to have them all selected, you'll need to ungroup all the elements again, so you'll have to decide whether it's worth doing. In my case, as I won't be modifying the design any more, I think it won't be a problem for me.
If you can't do it right using this method, don't worry. Just select the parts one by one and change their color to the red from our palette. We can also adjust the distance between the parts to our taste, but remember to group them using Ctrl + G.
With all the pieces selected, turn on the stroke on the Swatches panel and set its color to black.
With this, it may seem that the effect is completed, but if you take a closer look, you'll see that the corners are overlapping, so the effect ends up looking weird and lessens the overall quality of our work.
We can fix this by simply modifying the stroke options. I rounded the corners, and the result was nice. You can do this from the Stroke panel (which you can open from the Window menu, in case you don't have it already open).
If the panel looks like the one on the picture and it only allows you to change the stroke weight, fear not. Click on the hamburger button and select "Show Options".
Now you can set round corners for the stroke. To do so, just click on the second button next to "Corner".
The text is almost done. We only need to apply a color background and a shadow to give it an extra oomph You could also adjust the stroke weight however you like.
In this final section, we'll work on the shadow for our design. Also, we'll give it a color background to make it stand out. Get ready, we're almost there!
Before starting, group all the pieces if you haven't done it yet. Now, create a rectangle with the same size as the artboard and color it with the lightest blue.
Place the background layer below all the others, either by dragging it directly on the Layers panel until it's below the others, or by right-clicking → Arrange → Send to back. Then, from the Layers panel, lock the background layer so that it doesn't bother us while we're working.
Make a copy of the design of our text by selecting it and dragging it while holding Alt.
With the copy still selected, choose the dark blue as fill color and remove the stroke.
Send the shadow to the back, just above the blue background layer. The design is ready. All that's left is adjusting the shadow however we want.
I hope you liked this tutorial. Remember to use the discussion bar if you have any doubts. I'm looking forward to see your work, so don't forget to upload it to the Projects section. Thanks and see you next time! :)
Did you think that the tutorial from my colleague Rawson didn't cut you any slack? You'll not only know how to slice your images, you'll also learn how to slice your text and how to work with Illustrator's 3D effects and how to export the color palettes. Are you ready?