www 101

All you need to know about the internet

Have a Question?

If you have any question you can ask below or enter what you are looking for!

How to Create the Luke Cage Text Effect in Adobe Illustrator

Final product image
What You’ll Be Creating

In this tutorial, you’ll learn how to create a text effect based on the logo text for Luke Cage. Luke Cage is a superhero in the Marvel universe and now features in a series on Netflix.


For starters, you will learn how to set up a simple grid and how to create the pixel-perfect letter shapes using basic tools along with the Snap to Grid feature. Using the 3D Extrude & Bevel effect, you will learn how to add a subtle 3D effect for your letters. 

Taking full advantage of the Appearance panel, you will learn how to add subtle textures and highlights. You’ll also learn how to easily mask shapes and how to work with built-in brushes. Finally, you’ll learn how to add a dark background and some subtle, glowing spots on your final text.

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

1. How to Create a New Document & Setup 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 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, 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 the Control-“ 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.

setup grid

2. How to Create Character Shapes

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=255 G=180 B=0. Move to your artboard and simply create an 80 x 20 px rectangle—the grid and the Snap to Grid feature should make your work easier.

Replace the existing fill color with R=39 G=169 B=224, create a 30 x 80 px shape, and place it as shown in the second image. These two rectangles will make up the “L“.

rectangle tool

Step 2

Using the same tool and fill colors, create the “U” as shown in the following images.

rectangle

Step 3

Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 30 x 60 px shape. Fill this new rectangle with yellow and place it exactly as shown in the first image. Focus on the bottom side of your selected shape and pick the Direct Selection Tool (A). Select both anchor points and simply drag them 50 px to the left.

Reselect the Rectangle Tool (M) and create a 30 x 50 px shape. Fill it with yellow and place it exactly as shown in the third image. Focus on the top side of this new rectangle and switch to the Direct Selection Tool (A). Select both anchor points and simply drag them 35 px to the left.

Once again, pick the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 30 x 80 px shape, fill it with blue, and place it as shown in the fifth image.

direct selection tool

Step 4

Using the same tool and fill colors, create the “U” as shown in the following images.

blue rectangle

Step 5

Using the same tool and fill colors, create the remaining letter shapes as shown in the following images.

letter shapes

Step 6

Select all the shapes made so far, open the Pathfinder panel (Window > Pathfinder), and click the Unite button.

pathfinder

3. How to Create the 3D Effect

Step 1

Disable the Grid (Control-“) and the Snap to Grid (Shift-Control-“).

Make sure that your group of shapes is selected and go to Effect > 3D > Extrude & Bevel. Click the More Options button, make sure that you enter all the attributes shown below, and then click that OK button.

extrude bevel

Step 2

Take a closer look at your shapes and you’re probably going to notice that there are some sides missing from your 3D object. A neat trick that will fix this issue is a simple Warp effect. Make sure that your group of shapes is selected and go to Effect > Warp > Arc. Check the Horizontal box, set all those sliders to 0%, and then click that OK button.

warp arc

Step 3

Reselect your group of shapes, go to Object > Expand Appearance, and make sure that the resulting group of shapes remains selected. Hit the Shift-Control-G keyboard shortcut three times to get rid of all those groups and subgroups, and then hit Alt-Control-7 to instantly release the existing clipping masks.

ungroup

Step 4

Next, you need to get rid of all those former clipping paths. Take a closer look inside the Layers panel and you should notice a bunch of shapes with no fill or stroke color—those are the former clipping paths.

Select one of these shapes and go to Select > Same > Appearance to quickly select all the shapes with similar Appearance attributes. Now that you have all these shapes selected, simply delete them using the Delete button from your keyboard.

select same

Step 5

Select all the shapes that make up the front side of your text, bring them to front (Shift-Control-]), and then turn them into a simple compound path using the Control-8 keyboard shortcut.

Move to the Layers panel and lock your compound path to make sure that you won’t accidentally select/move it.

compound path

4. How to Color the Side Shapes

Step 1

Select the side shapes and replace the existing fill color with the linear gradient shown below.

linear gradient

Step 2

Make sure that all your side shapes are still selected, focus on the Appearance panel (Window > Appearance), and add a second fill using the Add New Fill button. Select the new fill and set the color to black (R=0 G=0 B=0). Lower its Opacity to 15%, change the Blending Mode to Multiply, and then go to Effect > Artistic > Film Grain. Enter the attributes shown below and then click that OK button.

add new fill

Step 3

Make sure that all your side shapes are still selected, keep focusing on the Appearance panel, and add a third fill using that same Add New Fill button. Select the new fill and set the color to black. Lower its Opacity to 15%, change the Blending Mode to Soft Light, and then go to Effect > Artistic > Sponge. Enter the attributes shown below and then click that OK button.

sponge

Step 4

Make sure that all your side shapes are still selected, keep focusing on the Appearance panel, and add a fourth fill using that same Add New Fill button. Select the new fill and replace the existing color with the linear gradient shown below. Keep in mind that the yellow zero from the Gradient image stands for Opacity percentage.

Keep focusing on this newly added fill, lower its Opacity to 5%, change the Blending Mode to Soft Light, and then go to Effect > Brush Strokes > Sprayed Strokes. Enter the attributes shown below and then click that OK button.

linear gradient

5. How to Add Shading and Highlights to Your Side Shapes

Step 1

Select the five shapes highlighted in the first image and duplicate them (Control-C > Control-F). Select these five copies and hit the D button from your keyboard to replace the existing Appearance attributes with the default ones (white fill and black stroke). Remove the black stroke, select the fill, and replace the white with a random green.

Once you’re done, move to the Layers panel and lock your compound path.

green compound path

Step 2

Reselect all the side shapes and Group them (Control-G). Move to the Layers panel and lock this group.

lock group

Step 3

Using the Pen Tool (P), create several thin shapes about as shown in the first image. Fill all these shapes with the linear gradient shown below, lower their Opacity to 10%, and change the Blending Mode to Soft Light. Don’t forget that the yellow zero from the Gradient image stands for Opacity percentage.

pen tool

Step 4

Enable the Grid (Control-“) and the Snap to Grid (Shift-Control-“).

Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 640 x 30 px shape, fill it with black, and place it as shown in the first image. Make sure that this rectangle remains selected, lower its Opacity to 10%, change the Blending Mode to Soft Light, and then go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Roughen. Enter the attributes shown below and then click that OK button.

roughen

Step 5

Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 640 x 30 px shape, fill it with white (R=255 G=255 B=255), and place it as shown in the first image. Make sure that this rectangle remains selected, lower its Opacity to 5%, change the Blending Mode to Soft Light, and then go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Roughen. Enter the attributes shown below and then click that OK button.

roughen

Step 6

Focus on the Brushes panel (Window > Brushes), open that fly-out panel, and go to Open Brush Library > Artistic > ArtisticChalkCharcoalPencil. You’ll need that Chalk art brush in a few moments.

Using the Pen Tool (P) or the Line Tool (), draw a 640 px horizontal path and place it as shown in the following image. Set the stroke color to white and simply add that Chalk art brush.

brushes

Step 7

Use the same tool to create another two 640 px horizontal paths, place them as shown in the following image, and apply that same Chalk art brush.

chalk art brush

Step 8

Select the three horizontal paths, lower their Opacity to 5%, and change the Blending Mode to Soft Light.

Reselect these horizontal paths along with the black and white rectangles and the thin shapes, and simply Group them (Control-G).

chalk art brush

Step 9

Disable the Grid (Control-“) and the Snap to Grid (Shift-Control-“).

Focus on the Layers panel and unlock your green compound path. Bring it to Front (Shift-Control-]) and then replace the green with white.

white compound path

Step 10

Select your white compound path along with the group made two steps ago, open the Transparency panel, and simply click that Make Mask button.

mask

6. How to Add Cracks to Your Front Shapes

Step 1

Using the Pen Tool (P), create several tiny black shapes about as shown in the first image. Make sure that all these new shapes are selected, lower their Opacity to 50%, and then Group them (Control-G).

tiny black

Step 2

Focus on the Layers panel, unlock your blue compound path, and duplicate it (Control-C > Control-F). Bring this copy to front (Shift-Control-]) and then replace the blue with white. Select this white compound path along with the group made in the previous step, go to the Transparency panel, and click that Make Mask button again.

mask

7. How to Color the Front Shapes

Step 1

Select your blue compound path and focus on the Appearance panel. Select the existing fill, replace the blue with R=212 G=141 B=27, and then go to Effect > Stylize > Inner Glow. Enter the attributes shown below and then click the OK button.

inner glow

Step 2

Make sure that your yellow compound path remains selected, keep focusing on the Appearance panel, and add a second fill using that same Add New Fill button. Select this new fill, lower its Opacity to 25%, change the Blending Mode to Color Burn, and then replace the existing color with the radial gradient shown below. Don’t forget that the yellow zero from the Gradient image stands for Opacity percentage, and use the Gradient Tool (G) to adjust your gradient as shown below.

radial gradient

Step 3

Make sure that your yellow compound path is still selected, keep focusing on the Appearance panel, and add a third fill. Select this new fill, lower its Opacity to 50%, change the Blending Mode to Overlay, and then replace the existing color with the radial gradient shown below.

radial gradient

Step 4

Make sure that your yellow compound path is still selected, keep focusing on the Appearance panel, and add a fourth fill.

Select the new fill and make it black. Lower its Opacity to 5%, change the Blending Mode to Soft Light, and then go to Effect > Path > Offset Path. Enter a -5 px Offset, click the OK button, and then go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Roughen. Enter the attributes shown below, click the OK button, and then go to Effect > Brush Strokes > Spatter. Drag those sliders as shown in the following image and then click that OK button.

spatter

Step 5

Make sure that your yellow compound path is still selected, keep focusing on the Appearance panel, and add a fifth fill.

Select the new fill and make it black. Lower its Opacity to 5%, change the Blending Mode to Soft Light, and then go to Effect > Artistic > Film Grain. Drag those sliders as shown in the following image and then click that OK button.

film grain

Step 6

Make sure that your yellow compound path is still selected and keep focusing on the Appearance panel. Select the existing stroke, set the color to black, lower its Opacity to 25% and simply add that Charcoal – Feather art brush.

stroke

Step 7

Make sure that your yellow compound path is still selected, keep focusing on the Appearance panel, and add a second stroke using the Add New Stroke button. Select this new stroke, make it black, and add that Charcoal – Pencil art brush.

add new stroke

Step 8

Make sure that your yellow compound path is still selected, keep focusing on the Appearance panel, and add a third stroke using that same Add New Stroke button. Select this new stroke, set the color to R=246 G=195 B=41, change its Blending Mode to Overlay, and then click that “Stroke” piece of text to open the Stroke fly-out panel. Set the Weight to 4 pt and then open that Profile drop-down menu and select Width Profile 2.

yellow stroke

Step 9

Make sure that your yellow compound path is still selected and make a copy in front (Control-C > Control-F). Select this copy and reset its attributes using that same D button from your keyboard. Don’t forget to get rid of that black stroke, but keep the white fill.

Once you’re done, select this white compound path along with the yellow one that lies behind. Then go to the Transparency panel and click that Make Mask button.

mask

8. How to Create the Background and Add Glowing Spots

Step 1

Pick the Rectangle Tool (M) and create an 860 x 610 px shape. Fill this new rectangle with R=13 G=10 B=3, send it to back (Shift-Control-[) and make sure that it covers your entire artboard.

dark background

Step 2

Enable the Grid (Control-“) and the Snap to Grid (Shift-Control-“). For these final steps you will need a grid every 1 px, so go to Edit > Preferences > Guides & Grid and enter 1 in the Gridline every box.

Using the Ellipse Tool (L), create a 28 x 2 px shape and place it about as shown in the following image. Fill it with the linear gradient shown below, lower its Opacity to 70%, and change the Blending Mode to Overlay. Remember that the yellow zeros from the Gradient image stand for Opacity percentage while the blue ones stand for Location.

squeezed circle

Step 3

Keep focusing on the squeezed circle made in the previous step and make sure that the Ellipse Tool (L) is still active.

Create a 10 x 4 px shape and place it as shown in the following image. Fill it with the linear gradient shown below, lower its Opacity to 60%, and then go to Effect > Blur > Gaussian Blur. Enter a 2 px Radius and then click that OK button.

squeezed circle

Step 4

Keep focusing on the squeezed circle made in the previous step and make sure that the Ellipse Tool (L) is still active. Create an 8 x 2 px shape and place it as shown in the first image. Fill it with white and change the Blending Mode to Soft Light.

Reselect the shape made in this step along with the other two squeezed circles and Group them (Control-G).

squeezed circle

Step 5

Multiply the group of squeezed circles made in the previous step and spread the copies about as shown in the following image.

multiply group

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 at GraphicRiver, with interesting solutions to improve your design.

final product