In this Adobe Illustrator tutorial we are going to create metallic lettering in vector format using Illustrator CS2.
Step 1 Open a new document
Create a new RGB document. In the Layers palette name this layer as “TEXT”. In tutorial we are using points as the unit of measurement. To ensure that you are using the same measurements, go to the menu bar and choose Illustrator (PC: Edit) > Preferences > Units & Display Performance. Set all Units to Points and click OK.
Choose the Type tool (T) and set a fairly thick, sans-serif typeface. I have chose Universe Extra Black Oblique of 85 pt. To make some space between letters, go to the Character palette (Window>Type>Character) and set the Tracking value to 100.
Step 2 Creating Outlines and Offset Path
With the Selection tool choose the text and create text outlines (Type>Create Outlines). Then navigate to Object>Path>Offset Path. In the dialog box, enter 3 pt for Offset and choose Round from the Joins drop-down menu. Click OK. Cut (Edit>Cut) the selected offset paths.
Command-Option-click (PC: Control-Alt-click) on the Create New Layer icon in the Layers palette. Name this layer “BACKGROUND.” Paste the paths on this layer using Edit>Paste in Front. To ensure you paste into the correct layer, click the hollow circle (Target icon) to the right of the layer’s name in the Layers palette to target it.
Step 3 Apply Gradient Fill to Offset Path
Use the settings given below to apply a gradient fill to the offset paths. To change colours within the Gradient palette, double-click one of the two colour stops below the colour ramp. The Colour palette will appear. If you see only one colour slider, then open the palette’s flyout menu (click the small circled arrow in the upper-right corner) and select RGB. The colour stop on the left uses values of R: 230, G: 230, and B: 230 while the colour stop on the right uses R: 80, G: 80, and B: 80. In the Gradient palette, set the Angle value to 90.
Step 4 Stroke Offset Path; Cut-and-Paste into New Layer
Open the Stroke palette and apply a stroke of 2 pt to the offset paths. Choose Round Join from the palette’s Join options. To convert the strokes to regular objects navigate to Object>Path>Outline Stroke. Once outlined, cut the strokes from the layer using Edit>Cut. Create a new layer above BACKGROUND (and below TEXT) and name it “OUTLINES”. Paste the converted strokes to it using Edit>Paste in Front. The outlines will provide more definition for the metallic letters.
Step 5 Apply Gradient and Outer Glow to Outlines
Select the outlines and apply a gradient fill using the settings given above. Note the gradient Angle is set to 270. Then, navigate to Effect>Stylize>Outer Glow. Use the settings given above. This effect will soften the edges of the outlines and provide contrast when the metallic text is used on background colours other than white.
Lock both the OUTLINES and BACKGROUND layers by clicking in the second column of each layer in the Layers palette.
Step 6 Copy the Text Path to a New Layer
Choose all of the paths on the TEXT layer and Edit>Copy. Make a new layer above the TEXT layer and name it “STROKE”. Click the Target icon on the STROKE layer and use Edit>Paste in Front to paste the paths in the layer. Keep the paths selected and reverse the Fill and Stroke colours in the Toolbox by pressing Shift-X. This will leave you with a 1-point black stroke.
In the Stroke palette, select the Round Join option. Select Align Stroke to Inside from the palette’s Align Stroke options. The black stroke will give more definition to the letter shapes
STEP 7 Copy Text Paths
Make a new layer below STROKE called “MASK.” Copy the text paths from the TEXT layer and Paste in Front on the new layer. Change the Fill colour to white. Lock all but the MASK layer for the following: In the Toolbox, select the Knife tool and cut completely across the middle of the letters. Due to the nature of the Knife tool, the cut path will not be straight and this is desirable for a more random appearance.
STEP 8 Delete Lower Path; Add Gradient to Top Path
Select the cut paths in the Mask Layer and go to Object>Ungroup. Use the Selection tool to delete the lower portions of the text paths.
Choose the remaining upper paths and regroup using Object>Group. Make a copy (Edit>Copy). Paste the copy in front of the original paths using Paste in Front. To the copied paths apply a standard white-to-black gradient fill which can be found in the Swatches palette and is labelled “White, Black.” In the Gradient palette, enter a value of 90 for the Angle.
STEP 9 Make MASK Layer an Opacity Mask
Click on an empty area of the artboard to deselect all the paths. Next, go to Select>All from the menu bar. From the Transparency palette open the palette flyout menu by clicking the circled arrow in the upper-right corner, and pick Make Opacity Mask.
The opacity mask created will allow for easy colour changes to the text. An opacity mask allows colour to show through a white-and-black gradient. Black becomes transparent while white remains opaque. The Transparency palette reflects the change.
Don’t forget to lock the Lock the MASK layer.
STEP 10 Creating Highlights
Unlock the TEXT layer and choose all of the paths. Then make a copy (Edit>Copy).
Make a new layer above the STROKE layer named HIGHLIGHTS. Paste the copied using Paste in Front the layer into this layer. Lock the TEXT layer.
Select the paths and go to Object>Path>Offset Path. In the Offset field enter a value of –3 pt. Choose Round from the Joins menu and click OK. Remove the original paths by choosing Select>Inverse, then press Delete (PC: Backspace). This will leave only the offset paths.
STEP 11 Copy Offset Paths; Nudge and Use Pathfinder Palette
Choose the offset paths and navigate to Object>Compound Path>Make. Then, apply a white fill to it. Copy the paths and paste using Paste in Front. Move the copied paths down and to the right from the original by a small margin using either the keyboard arrow keys or the Selection tool to.
To select both the copied paths and the original paths, click the Target icon on the HIGHLIGHTS layer. Open the Pathfinder palette, hold down the Option key (PC: Alt key), and click Subtract from Shape Area. This will create the highlights for the metallic lettering.
STEP 12 Taper the Blunt Ends
This is an optional step. Using the Direct Selection tool taper the blunt ends of the highlights (see above). Enable Smart Guides (View>Smart Guides) to make alignment of anchor points on the highlights easier.
STEP 13 Creating and Adding Glints
Now we need to add sparkle elements to the highlights. Choose the Star tool and click once on the artboard. Enter the values shown above and click OK.
Using the Direct Selection tool extend and shorten some of the points to randomise its appearance. Reduce the sparkle element by double-clicking on the Scale tool. Enter a value of 5 under Scale in the Uniform section. Click OK. Apply a white fill to the sparkle. Place copies of the shape over the highlights. Rotate some of the shapes for further randomisation.
STEP 14 Colour Customisation
If you prefer to change the colour then unlock both the TEXT and MASK layers. Target the TEXT layer by clicking the Target icon. Select a medium to dark colour from the Swatches or Colour palette. Next, target the MASK layer and select a related, but lighter colour. I chose a dark red colour for the text colour and a lighter red colour for the mask.