Wow Text

Create a New Document:

Create a new document for print (8.5 X 11).

Type The Text:

To begin this text effect, you must start with the most critical element—the text. Select the Type tool Type Tool in the Toolbox and click in the artboard to set a text object. Enter whatever text you like. I entered “WOW!” in all caps using the font Gill Sans Ultra Bold. The text settings I used are shown below:

Text Settings

Your text should look like this:

Wow Text

Scale the text with the free transform tool Free Transform Tool as necessary. I left enough room on the sides of the canvas because later in this activity you will be adding a wide stroke to the text and you want to make sure it fits on the canvas. Here is how my text look now after scaling it.

Wow Text

Duplicate and Convert To Outlines:

Just in case you want to go back and change the text later, drag the type layer in the Layers panel to the Create New Layer icon to duplicate the text object layer.

Duplicate Layer

Rename the top layer by double clicking on the text Layer 1 copy to open the Layers Options dialog box and typing in Duplicate Text. Click the Eye icon next to the original text layer to hide it. Your Layers palette should now look like this:

Duplicate Layer

Select the duplicated text on the canvas with the Selection tool Selection Tool and convert it to outlines by going under the Type menu and choosing Create Outlines.

Create Outlines

For the sake of visibility, set the Fill to white and the Stroke to black Fill and Stroke\.

Free Transform The Letters:

Now you need to distort the individual letters. For this you will use the Free Transform tool, which can be a bit tricky. First, make sure all of the letters are ungrouped by selecting the text on the canvas and selecting Object>Ungroup.

Ungroup Object

Select the first letter with the Selection tool. Switch to the Free Transform tool Free Transform Tool, and click-and-hold on the top-left corner of the transform box. Press-and-hold the Ctrl key and drag the corner to manipulate the shape of the letter. The Free Transform tool takes a little practice if you’ve never used it. Continue to do this to the remaining letters, varying the distortion and position of each.

Wow Text

Duplicate and Set Fill & Stroke To Black:

Select the distorted letters layer and create a duplicate of these letters just as you did earlier by dragging the layer to the duplicate layer button at the bottom of the Layers palette. Name it Duplicate Text.

Move the duplicate letters off to the side of the artboard for now by dragging around them with your selecting tool and then moving them as one object.

Reselect the original transformed text, the layer below the text you moved on the canvas by dragging around all the letters with the selection tool. Make sure you are on the middle layer, the layer that contains the distorted letters still on the canvas. On the Appearance panel (under the Window menu) set both the Fill and Stroke to black using the drop-down menu for each property. Also set the Stroke weight to 40 pt.

Appearance Layer

Your text on the canvas should now look like this:

Wow Text

Outline Stroke:

With these objects still selected, go into the Object menu to Path and choose Outline Stroke. This will expand the shape area out to the stroked area, making it a regular shape.

Outline Stroke

Your text should now look like this:

Wow Text

Unite Shapes:

Open the Pathfinder panel from the Window menu. Click the Unite icon, which is the first icon under Shape Modes. This will combine all the expanded shapes into one single shape. This shape will act as our outer border effect. (Note: If you see any stray points inside the shape, use the Ellipse tool to draw a shape over the points, select everything, and click the Unite icon again.)


Your text should now look like this:

Wow Text

Change Fill & Stroke and Thicken the Stroke:

Now you need to change the color of this shape. At the top of the document window set the Fill color to blue and the Stroke color to red. Set the Stroke wight to 5 pt. Click the center icon next to Align Stroke to put the stroke on the inside of the shape.

Fill and Stroke Settings

Position Duplicate and Change Fill & Stroke of the Original Duplicate Text:

Return to the duplicated text that you moved off the canvas and position it on top of the border shape. Change the Fill color to an yellow and the Stroke to black. Don’t make the stroke too big; make it just enough to define the shape so the two shapes don’t appear to be combined (3 pt in this example). Here is my finished project:

Wow Text


Illustrator Tutorials