Illustrator Tutorial – Create a Cool Ad Design with Shapes and Patterns
Posted on April 28, 2008 by Bo
I recently saw a holiday advertisement that had this cool effect to it. It had a pattern of shapes with a few of the shapes outlining some text. I thought it was a neat concept so I tried to reverse engineer what they had done and this is what I came up with.
We will be creating this design inside Adobe Illustrator. While this design can be made inside Photoshop, it’s much easier to layout in Illustrator and you will end up with a more versatile master file in case you need to recreate the design for multiple purposes.
This rectangle will serve as the background for your design. Go ahead and lock the rectangle by going to Object > Lock > Selection.
2. Get in Shape
Create the shape that will be your pattern. I used the Ellipse Tool to create what will eventually be little white dots. You can use virtually any shape here; stars, diamonds, squares, etc.
The smaller the shape the better. My dot is about 8.5 pixels in diameter.
Once your shape is created go ahead and place it in the top left corner of your document.
3. Pattern Creation
With your new shape selected, go to Effect > Distort and Transform > Transform…. In the Transform Effect dialog, go ahead and check the Preview box so you can see the changes that are being made.
The two fields we’ll be playing with are the Move > Horizontal slider and the Copies field. This will take a little experimentation as there are no concrete settings and the amounts you enter will depend on the size of your document and shape.
In this case, I moved the Horizontal slider (under the Move section) over to 19px and am making 40 copies. Your settings might be a little different, so just set them to whatever you think works best for your design. When you are finished, hit OK and the Transform changes will be applied to your shape.
Now, with the shape still selected, go to Effect > Distort and Transform > Transform… again. You may get a prompt telling you that you are about to apply another instance of this effect. Just hit OK because this is exactly what we’re doing.
Again, let’s check the Preview box. This time we’ll be tampering with the Move > Vertical slider as well as Copies. Let’s go ahead and type in 20 copies so we’ll have a reference of where the copies are going.
In the Move section, you’re actually wanting to move the copies downward. This will require you to move the slider to the left to get a negative number. I want my shapes to be spaced equally vertically as they are horizontally, so I’ll move them -19px.
Once I do this, I see that I need to increase the number of copies to 30 in order to fill up the entire background.
Once you’ve made your changes, hit OK to apply the effect.
4. Expand Appearance
Even though your shape pattern takes up the entire document, it’s still really only one instance of the shape. By selecting the left uppermost shape, you can move your entire pattern around to center it up if needed.
With this shape still selected, go to Object > Expand Appearance. This creates a new instance of each copy of the shape.
We now need to ungroup each of these shapes. However, Illustrator has these shapes grouped inside a couple layers of groupings. So, go to Object > Ungroup 3-4 times until the Ungroup option is grayed out and unselectable.
5. Create Foreground Shape
With your new shape selected, go to Effect > Distort and Transform > Transform…Now we will create the number or letter that will serve as your main foreground shape. In my case I am wanting to create the number 1. The font I used was Rockwell Bold and made the shape large enough to be prominent in the design.
Now you will need to convert your text to outlines. With your text still selected, go to Type > Create Outlines. Now lock this text by going to Object > Lock > Selection.
6. Bring Pattern to Front
For the next step, we need the pattern in front/on top of the text you just created. With your text still created, hold the Shift key and drag a selection over the entire document. This will not only select all the dots but will deselect your currently selected text. Now you can go to Object > Arrange > Bring to Front to bring the dots to the top of your layer.
7. Select the Dots!
With all the shapes still selected, you will need to deselect all of the shapes that are touching your text. You can do this by shift + clicking and shift + dragging over the selected shapes to deselect them.
Alternatively, if you’re having trouble seeing your text behind the pattern, you can deselect everything first and then just select the shapes that are touching your text.
8. Group it Up
With your selection of shapes that are touching your text, go to Object > Group to group them together. Now shift + drag over the entire image to select the other shapes and to deselect your currently selected shapes. Create a new group of this selection.
Select the outside group of dots and change their color to a slightly lighter hue of your background. This helps to differentiate the outside dots from the inside dots that define your text.
Now you’ve got your design created! The design is ready to go as-is or you can copy everything and paste into Photoshop as Pixels and have fun playing with the creation!
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