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How to Create a Maggot Text Effect in Adobe Illustrator

Final product image
What You’ll Be Creating

In the following steps you will learn how to create a simple maggot text effect in Adobe Illustrator. 

For starters you will learn how to set up a simple grid and how to create the main shapes using basic tools and effects along with the Live Corners feature. Taking full advantage of the Appearance panel and using a simple calligraphic brush, you will learn how to color the main maggot. Next, you’ll learn how to save and use some art brushes and how to add some subtle shading to your maggots. Finally, you’ll learn how to add a neat background with a subtle texture and a simple piece of text.

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

1. 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 box and 600 in the height box, and then click on the Advanced button. Select RGB, Screen (72ppi) and make sure that the Align New Objects to Pixel Grid box is unchecked before you click OK.

Enable the Grid (View > Show Grid) and the Snap to Grid (View > Snap to Grid). You will need a grid every 0.5 px, so simply go to Edit > Preferences > Guides > Grid, and enter 0.5 in the Gridline every box and 1 in the Subdivisions box. Try not to get discouraged by all that grid because it will make your work easier, and keep in mind that you can easily enable or disable it using the Control-“ keyboard shortcut.

You can learn more about Illustrator’s grid system and how it can make your work easier 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.

setup grid

2. Create the Main Shapes

Step 1

Pick the Ellipse Tool (L) and focus on your toolbar. Remove the color from the stroke and then select the fill and set its color to R=236 G=28 B=36. Move to your artboard and create a 7 x 6 px shape—the grid and the Snap to Grid feature should make this easier.

Keep focusing on this red circle and switch to the Anchor Point Tool (Shift-C). Simply click on the top and bottom anchor points. In the end your shape should look like the second image.

red circle

Step 2

Replace the existing fill color with a random yellow and pick the Rectangle Tool (M). Create a 2.5 x 7 px shape and place it exactly as shown in the first image.

Using the same tool, add the set of six rectangles shown in the second image. Take a closer look at the grid and make sure that you’re placing these new rectangles exactly as shown in the image.

rectangles

Step 3

Focus on your rectangles, pick the Direct Selection Tool (A) and select only the anchor points that make up the left sides (highlighted in the first image). Move to the control panel and simply enter 0.5 px in that Corners box.

The Live Corners feature is only available for CC users. The best solution to replace this effect would be the Round Any Corner script that can found in this article: 20 Free and Useful Adobe Illustrator Scripts. Save it to your hard drive, return to Illustrator and grab the Direct Selection Tool (A). Select the same anchor points and go to File > Scripts > Other Script. Open the Round Any Corner Script, enter a 0.5 px radius, and click OK.

live corners

Step 4

Using that same Direct Selection Tool (A), select the anchor points that make up the right sides (highlighted in the first image). Move to the control panel and this time enter 1 px in that Corners box.

live corners

Step 5

Select your seven rounded rectangles and go to Effect > Warp > Bulge. Check the Horizontal box, drag the Bend slider to 50%, and then click the OK button.

warp bulge

Step 6

Select the three rounded rectangles highlighted in the following image and go to Effect > Warp > Arc Lower. Check the Vertical box, drag the Bend slider to 10%, and then click the OK button.

warp arc lower

Step 7

Select the three rounded rectangles highlighted in the following image and go to Effect > Warp > Arc Lower. Check the Vertical box, drag the Bend slider to 15%, and then click the OK button.

warp arc lower

Step 8

Reselect the seven rounded rectangles and go to Object > Expand Appearance.

expand appearance

Step 9

Select all the shapes made so far and go to Object > Transform > Reflect. Check the Vertical box and then click that Copy button. Drag the resulting shapes to the left as shown in the third image. Once again, the grid and the Snap to Grid feature will make your work easier.

reflect

3. Add Color and Highlights

Step 1

Reselect all the shapes made so far and replace the existing fill colors with R=230 G=130 B=88.

fill color

Step 2

Make sure that your shapes remain selected, focus on the Appearance panel (Window > Appearance), and add a second fill using the Add New Fill button.

Select your new fill, set the color to white (R=255 G=255 B=255), lower its Opacity to 20%, change the Blending Mode to Overlay, and then go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Drag the Scale-Vertical slider to 80% and then click the OK button.

add new fill

Step 3

Make sure that your shapes are still selected, focus on the Appearance panel, and add a third fill using that same Add New Fill button.

Select this new fill, set the color to white, lower its Opacity to 40%, change the Blending Mode to Overlay, and then go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Drag the Scale-Vertical slider to 60% and then click the OK button.

transform effect

Step 4

Make sure that your shapes are still selected, focus on the Appearance panel, and add a fourth fill using that same Add New Fill button.

Select this new fill, set the color to white, lower its Opacity to 60%, change the Blending Mode to Overlay, and then go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Drag the Scale-Vertical slider to 30% and then click the OK button.

white fill

Step 5

Open the Brushes panel (Window > Brushes) and click the New Brush button. Check the Calligraphic Brush box and click that OK button. Enter all the attributes shown in the following image and then click OK.

Reselect all the shapes, add your new calligraphic brush, and don’t forget to set its color to R=150 G=75 B=41.

calligraphic brush

Step 6

Select only the rightmost shape and focus on the Appearance panel. First, select the bottom fill and replace the current color with R=230 G=86 B=84, and then select the stroke and replace the existing color with R=150 G=42 B=38.

adjust appearance

4. Save the Art Brushes

Step 1

Select all your shapes and return to the Brushes panel. Click that New Brush button, check the Art Brush box, and then click the OK button. Enter all the attributes shown below and then click the OK button. This will be your first maggot art brush.

art brush

Step 2

Keep focusing on the Brushes panel. Select your maggot art brush and drag it above that New Brush button to duplicate it. Double-click on your newly added brush to open the Art Brush Options window. Drag the Width slider to 50%, rename it “Art Brush 50%”, and then click that OK button.

Using the same technique, create a second copy of your art brush. Rename it “Art Brush 25%” and make sure that you’re dragging that Width slider to 25%.

duplicate art brush

5. Add the Background and Some Text

Step 1

Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create an 860 by x 610 px shape, fill it with R=247 G=205 B=159, and make sure that it covers your entire artboard.

Add a second fill for this shape and set its color to black (R=0 G=0 B=0). Lower its Opacity to 3%, change the Blending Mode to Multiply, and then go to Effect > Artistic > Film Grain. Enter the attributes shown below and then click the OK button.

background

Step 2

Pick the Type Tool (T) and open the Character panel (Window > Type > Character). Select the Pacifico font, set the size to 180 pt, and then simply click on your artboard. Add the “Maggot” text and set its color to R=150 G=75 B=41.

type tool

Step 3

Make sure that your piece of text is still selected, lower its Opacity to 25%, go to Effect > Pathfinder > Add and then go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Tweak. Enter all the attributes shown below and then click that OK button.

tweak

6. Add the Maggots

Step 1

At this point you can disable the grid (Control-“) and the Snap to Grid (Shift-Control-“).

Pick the Brush Tool (B) and select your Art Brush 100% from the Brushes panel. Focus on your text and spread some maggots roughly as shown in the following image.

brush tool

Step 2

Now, you need to select all the maggots added in the previous step. You can do it manually or you can select one of these paths and then simply go to Select > Same > Appearance.

Once you have all the maggots selected, go to Effect > Stylize > Drop Shadow. Enter the attributes shown in the left window (in the following image), click the OK button, and then add the other two Drop Shadow effects shown below.

drop shadow

Step 3

Using the Brush Tool (B) and the Art Brush 50%, spread some new maggots around the existing ones roughly as shown below.

brush tool

Step 4

Select all the maggots added in the previous step and add the two Drop Shadow effects shown below.

drop shadow

Step 5

Using the Brush Tool (B) and the Art Brush 25%, spread some new maggots around the existing ones roughly as shown below.

brush tool

Step 6

Select all the maggots added in the previous step and add the two Drop Shadow effects shown below.

drop shadow

7. Add Subtle Shading

Step 1

Select the rectangle that makes up your background, make a copy in front (Control-C > Control-F), and bring it to front (Shift-Control-]). Make sure that this copy remains selected and focus on the Appearance panel.

Remove the black fill and select the remaining fill. Change its Blending Mode to Soft Light and then replace the existing fill color with the radial gradient shown below. Use the Gradient Tool (G) to stretch your gradient as shown below, and keep in mind that the yellow zero from the Gradient image stands for Opacity percentage.

radial gradient

Step 2

Make sure that the rectangle added in the previous step is still selected and make a copy in front (Control-C > Control-F). Select this copy and focus on the Appearance panel. Lower the Opacity to 15%, change the Blending Mode to Overlay, and replace the existing radial gradient with the one shown below.

radial gradient blue

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 might find some great sources of inspiration at Envato Market with interesting solutions to improve your design.

final product