Graphic Design: Make a Plastic Effect

Intermediate level Adobe Illustrator Adobe Illustrator

Create the effect base

Step 1

Let’s start with a New Document and the Ellipse Tool (L). Draw a gray circle in your Artboard.


Step 2

In the Appearance panel apply a couple instances of Drop Shadows (Effect > Stylize > Drop Shadow) with the following (or similar) attributes:

  • Mode: Multiply
  • Opacity: 40%
  • X Offset: 0.04 in
  • Y Offset: 0.04 in
  • Blur: 0.14 in
  • Color: Black

For the second Drop Shadow effect, I placed it above the first (both applied to this fill) in the Appearance panel with 10% Opacity and a shadow closer to the object itself. It’s entirely optional.


Step 3

Next, on the same fill color in the Appearance panel, go to Effect > Path > Offset Path and offset your path by 10 pt or so.


Step 4

Again on the same fill (so far we’re only working with a single fill in the Appearance panel), create a bevel by going to Effect > 3D > Extrude & Bevel and applying the following attributes:

  • X, Y, and Z Axis:
  • Extrude Depth: 50 pt
  • Bevel: Classic
  • Height: 7 pt
  • Surface: Plastic Shading

Step 5

Now we’re done with the first fill color in our style. Next we’ll add an aeefect that will be placed outside (below) the other fill colors. Go to Effect > Artistic > Plastic Wrap with the following attributes:

  • Highlight Strength: 4
  • Detail: 2
  • Smoothness: 15

Creating gradient fills to render

Step 1

Create a New Fill in the Appearance panel above the first fill and the Plastic Wrap effect. Fill it with a lighter gray.


Step 2

Create a third fill above the other two and set the fill color to a slightly lighter gray. Offset the path to -10 pt.


Step 3

This is our first of three gradient fills within the design. Create a new fill (this should be your fourth in the Appearance panel and fill it with a radial gradient going from dark gray to light gray.

Set the light gray, which should be the inner color, to 0% Opacity and the outer color to 100% Opacity. Set the Blending Mode to Color Burn. You can do both of these actions in the Gradient and Transparency panels respectively.


Step 4

Add another fill to the Appearance panel. This time it’ll be a radial gradient going from white at 100% Opacity (in the center) to white at 0% Opacity. Use the Gradient Tool to adjust the radius and place it in the upper left of your shape.

Set fill’s the Blending Mode to Screen and Opacity to 47%.


Step 5

Copy the previous fill and move the second radial gradient over a bit to the upper middle of the shape so there are two simple highlights on your object.


Create a texture and colorize your object

Step 1

Create your seventh fill instance in the Appearance panel. Offset the path by 10 pt and apply a Grain effect (Effect > Texture > Grain) with the following attributes:

  • Intensity: 71
  • Contrast: 17
  • Grain Type: Stippled

Set the fill’s Blending Mode to Overlay and the Opacity to 62%.


Step 2

The eighth and final fill instance will apply a color to your graphic style. Set the fill color to something bright and fun. I’ve chosen bright pink in this case. Offset the path by 10 pt so the entire shape is covered with color.

Set the Blending Mode to Overlay. Alternatively, if you want a lighter effect, try Lighten and if you want a darker effect, try Multiply.


Create your text effect

Step 1

Select your object and create a new Graphic Style in the Graphic Styles panel. You can create an entire rainbow of colors if you change the eighth fill’s color to the color of your choice and save each as a new Graphic Style.


Step 2

Using the Type Tool to write out the text of your choice with the font of your choice. Expand the text to outlines and Ungroup it before applying instances of your new Graphic Styles to each letter.


End result

Great work, you’re done! To complete your design add a background as you see fit. What sort of fantastic designs can you create with this graphic style? Share your plastic, candy-like creations with us in the comment section below!


What do you think of this tutorial?


Edited 1 year ago

Thank you for you lesson)) look what i got)) https://uploads.disquscdn.c...

Edited 1 year ago

hehe very cute your result, but looks that u discovered a kind of 'glitter effect' :)
but, if you want your letters looks like 'buttons' is better you choose round fonts. (very easy to find if you look for "rounded bold free fonts" on google)
Sorry for my english, hugs from Brazil.

Learn how to create a bright and colorful 3D text effect with the use of Graphic Styles and the Appearance Panel in Illustrator. Step by step tutorial.

Tut Details

Intermediate level 30m 1,647 views