this tutorial and learn how to draw a biscuit style using only a
path, the shape of each letter and nothing else.
you are not familiar with this concept, here is another tutorial of
mine where I create an avocado using only one shape. This time, we’ll
take it one step further and create a text effect, so instead of one
path we’ll have seven paths as the individual letters, but the concept
remains the same. The
appearances are “all in one”, and you won’t use other shapes besides
the seven letters, so prepare yourself for a lot of Appearance panel
action. If you are intrigued and you love a good challenge, let’s
complete the tutorial, you will need the following assets:
- Geist Knt Font I, dafont.com
a New Project
go to File
> New to
open a blank document. Type a name for your file, set up the
dimensions, and then select Pixels
Make sure that Align
New Objects to Pixel Grid is
go to Edit
> Preferences > General and
set the Keyboard
while there, go to Units
make sure they are set as shown in the following image. I usually work with
these settings, and they will help you throughout the drawing process.
the Type Tool (T) and write “biscuit” on your artboard using the
Geist Knt Font, with a size of 140 pt. Also, set the Tracking for the
selected characters to 200 in order to get more space between the
the text stays selected, choose Expand from the Object menu and then
Ungroup (Shift-Control-G). Now, select all the individual letters and
take a look at the Appearance panel. Are your letters paths or
compound paths? If the answer is compound paths, go to Object >
Compound Path > Release.
on the letter “B“. Take the Pen Tool (P) and draw a triangle using the
three points indicated as reference (1). Move the triangle to the
right side of the letter “C“. Make a copy of this triangle for the
letter “U” and then rotate and arrange it at the top (2).
the letter “C” along with the triangle and press Minus Front in the
Pathfinder panel. Repeat the same thing for the letter “U” (3).
the Biscuit Pattern
the Ellipse Tool (L) and Rectangle Tool (M) to draw a circle and then
a rectangle on top. Use the dimensions shown because the end result
will fit perfectly with the size of the letters (1).
Now, select both
shapes and press Intersect in the Pathfinder panel. Fill the
resulting shape with the color of your choice (2). Finally, draw a
rectangle between the two anchor points at the base (3).
(Control-G) the two shapes and name the group “big corner”.
draw a 16 x 16 px circle with the Ellipse Tool (L). Use the Direct
Selection Tool (A) to select only the anchor point at the bottom and
press the Delete key on your keyboard (1).
Still using the Direct
Selection Tool (A), drag a selection over the two end points and go
to Object > Path > Join (Control-J) (2). As a result, you will
get a half circle (3). Draw a new 16 x 7 px rectangle at the base (4)
and after that, select both shapes and press Unite in the Pathfinder
Fill the resulting shape with the color of your choice (5).
the shape from the previous step into the Brushes panel and choose
New Pattern Brush. In the Pattern Brush Options window, type a name
for your new brush, leave the rest of the settings as they are, and
get back to the letters. Take the “big corner” group and make a
bunch of copies first. Rotate and arrange one in each corner
of the letter “I” as shown in the close-up. Following this example, do
the same thing for the other letters. Place the “big corner” on
the outer corners of the letters, but not quite in all of them because
that will be too much.
on the letter “I“. Take the Pen Tool (P) or the Line Segment Tool ()
and draw a straight path between each “big corner”, following the
edge of the letter. Stroke these four paths with the Biscuit edge
Pattern Brush that you saved earlier. Keep the Stroke Weight at
your brush is flipped (waves on the inside, not on the outside),
while the path is selected, double click on the brush stroke in the
Appearance panel in order to open the Stroke Options window and check
on the letter “B“. Draw three straight paths between the “big
corners”, on the left side, at the top and at the bottom. Give them
a 1 pt Stroke with the Biscuit edge Pattern Brush and flip the brush
the smaller areas, draw a shorter path between the “big corners”
and use the same pattern brush. Follow the shape of the letter and
draw a few more short paths to complete the biscuit edge all around.
the sequence of images and create the biscuit edge for the rest of
the letters. All paths have a 1 pt Stroke using the Biscuit edge
Pattern Brush, and don’t forget to flip the brush if necessary.
you continue, zoom on each letter and check if there are any empty
spaces between the strokes as shown in the close-ups. If there are,
grab the Direct Selection Tool (A) and move the anchor points closer
to each other to cover the empty space.
one of the stroked paths and go to Select > Same > Stroke
Weight. As a result, Illustrator will select all the paths for you. Choose Expand Appearance from the Object menu in order to
turn the strokes into shapes.
all the shapes that compose the letter “B” and press Unite in the
Pathfinder panel to turn everything into a single shape. Repeat the
same thing for the rest of the letters.
you continue, make sure that the new letters are paths and not
compound paths in the Layers panel. If they are, go to Object >
Compound Path > Release.
the Biscuit Graphic Style
time to create the actual biscuit style, and the appearances will be
“all in one”. You won’t need other shapes besides the seven
all the letters with the color indicated and after that, go to Effect
> Stylize > Inner Glow. Apply the settings shown and hit OK.
all letters stay selected, go to the Appearance panel and press Add
New Fill in order to add a new Fill attribute above the first one.
Use the same color; then go to Effect > Texture > Texturizer
and apply the settings shown below. Set this Fill to Blending Mode
Multiply and 25% Opacity.
the letters still selected, add a New Fill and drag it to the bottom
of the Appearance panel. Use the color indicated and then go to
Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Apply a 2 px
Vertical Move and hit OK.
the letters still selected, add a New Fill at the bottom of the
Appearance panel and use the color indicated. Next, go to Effect >
Distort & Transform > Transform and apply a 4 px Vertical
select a 0.5 pt white Stroke (although for visual purposes I used
red), and use the Ink Splats Scatter Brush that you can find in the
Brush Libraries Menu > Artistic > Artistic_Ink. Double click in
the Appearance panel on the brush stroke to open the Stroke Options
window, and change the settings as shown below.
you can see in the image, the splats go over the edge of the letters, and that is not what we want. We’re going to fix that next.
the letter “B” and also select the Stroke attribute in the Appearance
panel. Now, go to Effect > Convert to Shape > Rectangle and set
the Width to 85 px and the Height to 110 px. We’re basically forcing the
letter “B‘” (only the stroke, not the entire shape) to transform into a
rectangle which is smaller than the letter; therefore, the brush stroke
will get smaller and will be concentrated in the center of the letter
rather than near the edges.
this effect to the other letters as well, but the size of the
rectangle depends on the shape of each letter. The same dimensions,
85 x 110 px, work for the letters “C” and “U“, but for the letter “I” you
need a thinner rectangle, about 15 x 110 px. Use 70 x 110 px for the
letter “S” and 50 x 110 px for the letter “T“.
this point, the brush splats should not go over the edge of the
letters, but if they still do, open the Rectangle effect again and
choose slightly smaller dimensions.
the Opacity to 15% for this Stroke attribute, and at this point the
biscuit effect should look like in the next image.
a New Stroke in the Appearance panel above the previous one. Use black,
set the Weight to 0.5 pt, and use the Ink Splats Scatter Brush again.
Open the Stroke Options window and change the settings for each
letter as shown below.
we’re going to force the black splats to stay inside the letters like
one letter at a time, and also the black Stroke attribute in the
Appearance panel, and then go to Effect > Convert to Shape >
Rectangle. For the dimensions of the rectangle, use the same values
from the white brush strokes because if they worked there, they will
work here as well. After you are done, set the Blending Mode to
Overlay and reduce the Opacity to 20%.
this point, you are pretty much done with the texture, and all you
need are the little holes on the surface of the biscuit.
number of holes depends on the shape and size of each letter. Let’s
start with the letter “I” because it’s the smallest and it will be
easier at first.
the letter “I”
stays selected, add a New Fill and drag it to the top of the
Appearance panel. Use a black to brown radial gradient; then go to
Effect > Convert to Shape > Ellipse and apply the settings
shown. This will basically force this Fill attribute to transform
into a tiny 4 x 3 px ellipse in the center of the letter.
the letter “I” and the last Fill attribute still selected, go to
Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform and apply a 10 px
Horizontal Move. As a result, the tiny ellipse will move a little to
the letter “I” and the last Fill attribute still selected, go to
Effect > Stylize > Drop Shadow and apply this effect twice
using the settings shown below.
the last Fill attribute is still selected, choose Duplicate Item from the upper right menu of the Appearance panel. As a result you will get a second tiny hole, but at the moment
they overlap. Expand the new Fill attribute at the top, open the
Transform Effect window, and change the Move Horizontal setting from 10 px
to -10 px.
select the two Fill attributes (the two tiny holes) and choose
Duplicate Item again. As a result, you will get two new Fill
attributes at the top (two new holes), but at the moment they overlap so you need to change the settings for the Transform
Expand the new Fill attributes, open the Transform Effect window, and type -22 px in the Move Vertical field. Keep the Horizontal value
the same because you just want to move the two new holes 22 px
the last two Fill attributes and choose Duplicate Item again to get
two new holes. Open the Transform Effect window and change the Move Vertical setting from -22 px to -45 px for both.
select the first two Fill attributes (the first two holes) and duplicate them. Expand the
two new Fill attributes underneath, open the Transform Effect window, and
type 25 px in the Move Vertical field for both.
the last two Fill attributes and duplicate them to get two new holes.
Expand the two new Fill attributes underneath, open the Transform Effect
window, and change the Move Vertical setting from 25 px to 50 px for both.
These will be the last two holes, and at this point the letter “I”
is pretty much ready. We will add the shadow later in the tutorial.
same thing goes for the letter “B”, but you need to add more tiny
holes because the surface is bigger than the letter “I”.
While the letter “B”
stays selected, add a New Fill above the existing ones and use the
same black to brown radial gradient. For the Ellipse, Transform and
Drop Shadow effects, use the same settings shown earlier for the first hole on the letter “I”.
this Fill attribute (first hole) twice, and then open the Transform
effect and change the Move Horizontal setting as indicated. As a
result, you will get the other two holes on the left.
the first three Fill attributes (three holes) and choose Duplicate
Item again. Expand the new Fill attributes at the top, open the
Transform effect, and change the Move Vertical setting from 0 px to
-22 px for all three. This will move the three new holes 22 px
the first three Fill attributes again and choose Duplicate Item. This
time, change the Move Vertical setting from 0 px to -45 px in order
to move the new row of holes at the top.
the same thing to obtain the other two rows of holes at the bottom, and always use the first three Fill attributes (first three holes in
the center) to duplicate.
the same technique, add the last two holes on the right side of the
letter, and at this point the Appearance panel should look like in the
image below. Magical, right? Everything is on the same path, and the
main part of the Appearance panel consists of the holes in the
look forward to the time when Illustrator will let me write a custom
name for each appearance just like the layers in Photoshop so I don’t
get tangled in my own work. It’s hard to tell which hole is which, but
you can use the Visibility eye to find them.
the technique explained above and add the tiny holes for the other
last thing to do is to add the shadow. Select the first letter and
take a look at the Appearance panel. Add a New Fill at the bottom and
use the color black. While this Fill attribute stays selected, go to
Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform and in the Move
Vertical field type 4 px. Next, go to Effect > Stylize > Drop
Shadow and apply this effect three times.
you are done, repeat the same thing for the other letters.
are the settings for the three Drop Shadow effects:
biscuit text effect is ready now. If you go to View > Outline, you
can see the shape of the letters and that there are no other shapes
involved. All the appearances are on the same path.
the Biscuit Graphic Style
can save this biscuit style for future use. Select one of the letters
and press New Graphic Style in the Graphic Styles panel. Type a name
for your style and hit OK.
can apply this biscuit style to other shapes, but you need to make a
few changes to rearrange the position of the holes because each
shape is different. To do that, open the Transform effect under each
Fill attribute and change the Horizontal and Vertical settings to
move the holes to the correct spot. That’s it.
Awesome Work, You’re Done!
Appearance panel can be magical, if you know how to use it to its
full potential. I hope that you enjoyed this tutorial as much as
I did. I am always up for a challenge.
Don’t forget to show me your
recreations of this biscuit text effect because I would love to see