How to Create a Bold, Cartoonish Text Effect in Adobe Illustrator

In the following steps you will learn how to create a bold, cartoonish text effect in Adobe Illustrator.

How to Create a Bold, Cartoonish Text Effect in Adobe Illustrator

How to Create a Bold, Cartoonish Text Effect in Adobe Illustrator

For starters you will learn how to set up a simple grid and how to create a pretty simple background for your text effect. Using the Type Tool and a nice, free font, you’ll learn how to the starting text. Taking full advantage of the Appearance panel, you’ll learn how to create the actual text effect. Finally, you’ll learn how to add some final touches for your text effect using a bunch of simple circles.

For more inspiration on how to adjust or improve your final text effect, you can find plenty of resources atGraphicRiver.

1. How to Create a New Document & Set Up a Grid

Hit Control-N to create a new document. Select Pixels from the Units drop-down menu, enter 850 in the width and height boxes, and then click that Advanced button. Select RGB for the Color Mode, set the Raster Effects to Screen (72 ppi), and then click that Create Document button.

Enable the Grid (View > Show Grid) and the Snap to Grid (View > Snap to Grid). You will need a grid every 5 px, so simply go to Edit > Preferences > Guides > Grid, and enter 5 in the Gridline every box and 1 in the Subdivisions box. Try not to get discouraged by all that grid—it will make your work easier, and keep in mind that you can easily enable or disable it using theControl-“keyboard shortcut.

You can learn more about Illustrator’s grid system in this short tutorial from Andrei Stefan: Understanding Adobe Illustrator’s Grid System.

You should also open the Info panel (Window > Info) for a live preview with the size and position of your shapes. Don’t forget to set the unit of measurement to pixels from Edit > Preferences > Units > General. All these options will significantly increase your work speed.

How to Create a Bold, Cartoonish Text Effect in Adobe Illustrator

2. How to Create the Background

Step 1

Pick the Rectangle Tool (M) and focus on your Toolbar. Remove the color from the stroke and then select the fill and set its color to R=137 G=147 B=150.

Simply create an860 px square and make sure that it covers your entire artboard. The grid and the Snap to Grid feature should help.

How to Create a Bold, Cartoonish Text Effect in Adobe Illustrator

Step 2

Make sure that your square is still selected, open the Appearance panel (Window > Appearance), and add a second fill using the Add New Fill button.

Select the new fill, lower its Opacity to 60%,and then replace the existing color with the radial gradient shown below. Keep in mind that the yellow zero from the Gradient image (Window > Gradient) stands for Opacity percentage and use the Gradient Tool (G) to stretch your gradient about as shown in the following image.

How to Create a Bold, Cartoonish Text Effect in Adobe Illustrator

3. How to Create the Main Text Pieces

Step 1

Pick the Type Tool (T) and open the Character panel (Window > Type > Character). Select the Comical Cartoon font and then set the size to 40 px and the leading to 150 px. Simply click on your artboard, add your column of text, and make it white.

How to Create a Bold, Cartoonish Text Effect in Adobe Illustrator

Step 2

Using the same tool and font attributes, add the first row from your text again. Make it red and place it right above the white one. Do the same for the other three rows of text, as shown in the following images. Once you’re done, you can remove that white text from your document.

How to Create a Bold, Cartoonish Text Effect in Adobe Illustrator

4. How to Create the Front Side of Your Text Effect

Step 1

Select one of your pieces of text, focus on the Appearance panel, and add a new fill using that same Add New Fill button. Set its color to R=247 G=139 B=30 and make sure that it lies above that “Characters” piece of text. Placing it above the “Characters” text will simply cover that red.

How to Create a Bold, Cartoonish Text Effect in Adobe Illustrator

Step 2

Make sure that your orange text is still selected and keep focusing on the Appearance panel. Add a second fill and drag it below the existing one.

Make sure that your new fill is selected, replace the existing color with the linear gradient shown below, and then go to Effect > Path > Offset Path. Enter a 2 px Offset, set the Joins to Round, and then click that OK button.

How to Create a Bold, Cartoonish Text Effect in Adobe Illustrator

Step 3

Make sure that your orange text is still selected and keep focusing on the Appearance panel. Reselect that bottom fill and go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Enter the attributes shown in the following image and then click that OK button.

How to Create a Bold, Cartoonish Text Effect in Adobe Illustrator

Step 4

Make sure that your orange text is still selected and keep focusing on the Appearance panel. Reselect that bottom fill and go to Effect > Stylize > Inner Glow. Enter the attributes shown in the following image and then click that OK button.

How to Create a Bold, Cartoonish Text Effect in Adobe Illustrator

Step 5

Make sure that your orange text is still selected and keep focusing on the Appearance panel. Select that top fill and go to Effect > Path > Offset Path. Enter a 2 px Offset, set the Joins to Round, and then click that OK button.

How to Create a Bold, Cartoonish Text Effect in Adobe Illustrator

Step 6

Make sure that your orange text is still selected and keep focusing on the Appearance panel. Add a third fill and place it above the existing ones.

Select this new fill, set its color to R=254 G=183 B=21, and go to Effect > Path > Offset Path. Enter a -4 px Offset, set the Joins to Round, click that OK button, and then go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Enter the attributes shown in the following image and then click that OK button.

How to Create a Bold, Cartoonish Text Effect in Adobe Illustrator

Step 7

For this step you’ll need of those built-in patterns from Illustrator. Open the fly-out menu from the Swatches panel (Window > Swatches) and go to Open Swatch Library > Patterns > Basic Graphics > Basic Graphics_Lines. Keep this window opened, make sure that your orange text is selected, and return to the Appearance panel.

Select the top fill and duplicate using the Duplicate Selected Item button. Select the newly added fill and simply replace the existing color with the “10 pli 50%” pattern from that set.

How to Create a Bold, Cartoonish Text Effect in Adobe Illustrator

Step 8

Make sure that your patterned fill is still selected, lower its Opacity to 75%, change the Blending Mode to Soft Light, and then go to Effects > Distort & Transform > Transform. Enter the attributes shown below and then click that OK button.

How to Create a Bold, Cartoonish Text Effect in Adobe Illustrator

Step 9

Make sure that your orange text is still selected and keep focusing on the Appearance panel.

Select that stroke, set the color to R=255 G=200 B=28 and the size to 4 px, and then go to Effect > Path > Offset Path. Enter a -2 px Offset, set the Joins to Round, and then click that OK button.

How to Create a Bold, Cartoonish Text Effect in Adobe Illustrator

5. How to Create the Back Side of Your Text Effect

Step 1

Make sure that your orange text is still selected and keep focusing on the Appearance panel. Add a fifth fill and place it below the existing ones.

Select this new fill and set its color to black (R=0 G=0 B=0). Lower its Opacity to 50% and change the Blending Mode to Soft Light, and then go to Effect > Path > Offset Path. Enter a 2 px Offset, set the Joins to Round, click that OK button, and then go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Enter the attributes shown in the left window (in the following image), click that OK button, and then go again to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. This time, enter the attributes shown in the right window and then click that OK button.

How to Create a Bold, Cartoonish Text Effect in Adobe Illustrator

Step 2

Make sure that your orange text is still selected and keep focusing on the Appearance panel.

Select the bottom black fill and duplicate it using that same Duplicate Selected Item button. Focus on your bottom black fill and open the second Transform effect. Simply increase the Copies from 20 to 50 and then click that OK button.

How to Create a Bold, Cartoonish Text Effect in Adobe Illustrator

Step 3

Make sure that your orange text is still selected and keep focusing on the Appearance panel. Add a new fill and place it below the existing ones.

Select this new fill, set its color to R=190 G=31 B=46, and then go to Effect > Path > Offset Path. Enter a 20 px Offset, set the Joins to Round, click that OK button, and then go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Enter the attributes shown in the following image and then click that OK button.

How to Create a Bold, Cartoonish Text Effect in Adobe Illustrator

Step 4

Make sure that your orange text is still selected and keep focusing on the Appearance panel. Add a new fill and place it right above the bottom one.

Select this new fill, set its color to R=160 G=1 B=16, and then go to Effect > Path > Offset Path. Enter a 5 px Offset, set the Joins to Round, click that OK button, and then go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Enter the attributes shown in the following image and then click that OK button.

How to Create a Bold, Cartoonish Text Effect in Adobe Illustrator

Step 5

Make sure that your orange text is still selected and keep focusing on the Appearance panel. Add a new fill and place it below the existing ones.

Select this new fill, set its color to R=160 G=1 B=16, and then go to Effect > Path > Offset Path. Enter a 20 px Offset, set the Joins to Round, click that OK button, and then go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Enter the attributes shown in the left window, click that OK button, and then go again to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. This time enter the attributes shown in the right window and then click that OK button.

How to Create a Bold, Cartoonish Text Effect in Adobe Illustrator

Step 6

Make sure that your orange text is still selected and keep focusing on the Appearance panel. Reselect that bottom fill and go to Effect > Stylize > Drop Shadow. Enter the attributes shown below and then click that OK button.

How to Create a Bold, Cartoonish Text Effect in Adobe Illustrator

Step 7

Make sure that your orange text is still selected and keep focusing on the Appearance panel. Using the Add New Stroke button, add a second stroke for your text, and place it below all those fills.

Select this new stroke, set its color to R=190 G=31 B=46 and then go to Effect > Path > Offset Path. Enter a 20 px Offset, set the Joins to Round, click that OK button, and then go to Effect > Pathfinder > Add. Return to the Appearance panel and click that “Stroke” piece of text to open the Stroke fly-out panel. Set the Weight to 8 px, check the Round Cap and Round Join buttons, and then check that Dashed Line box. Enter 0 px in the first dash box and 8 px in the first gap box, and your stroke should end up looking about as shown in the following image.

How to Create a Bold, Cartoonish Text Effect in Adobe Illustrator

Step 8

Make sure that your orange text is still selected and keep focusing on the Appearance panel. Reselect that bottom fill and go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Enter the attributes shown in the following image and then click that OK button.

How to Create a Bold, Cartoonish Text Effect in Adobe Illustrator

6. How to Copy and Adjust Appearance Attributes

Step 1

Now, you need to copy the Appearance attributes from one piece of text to another. Focus on the Layers panel (Window > Layers) and you’ll notice that all objects have a little circle on the right-hand side, a target icon.

Hold the Alt button from your keyboard, click the target icon that stands for your orange piece of text, and drag it above the target icon that stands for one of those red pieces of text.

How to Create a Bold, Cartoonish Text Effect in Adobe Illustrator

Step 2

Repeat the technique mentioned in the previous step to copy the Appearance attributes. Once you’re done, select one or more of those pieces of text, focus on the Appearance panel, and replace the existing colors with the ones indicated in the following image.

How to Create a Bold, Cartoonish Text Effect in Adobe Illustrator

7. How to Add Several Circles/Stars and Spread Them Around the Text

Step 1

Using the Ellipse Tool (L), create a 20 px circle. Make sure that there’s no fill color set for this shape and set the stroke color to R=190 G=31 B=46. Open the Stroke fly-out panel, increase the Weight to 6 px, and check that Align to Inside button.

Using the same tool, create a 15 px circle. Add the same red stroke, align it to inside, but decrease the Weight to 4 px. Create a third circle, make it 10 px wide, add that same red stroke, don’t forget to align it to inside, and set the Weight to 3 px.

Duplicate these three circles (Control-C > Control-V), select the copies, and simply replace the red with R=159 G=31 B=99.

How to Create a Bold, Cartoonish Text Effect in Adobe Illustrator

Step 2

Simply multiply your red and purple circles (Control-C > Control-V) and then spread the copies as shown in the following image.

How to Create a Bold, Cartoonish Text Effect in Adobe Illustrator

Alternatively, you can replace those circles with simple star shapes that can be easily made using the Star Tool.

How to Create a Bold, Cartoonish Text Effect in Adobe Illustrator

Congratulations! You’re Done!

Here is how it should look. I hope you’ve enjoyed this tutorial and can apply these techniques in your future projects.

Feel free to adjust the final design and make it your own. You can find some great sources of inspiration atGraphicRiverwith interesting solutions to improve your design.

How to Create a Bold, Cartoonish Text Effect in Adobe Illustrator