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How to Create a Rocket Fireworks Text Effect in Adobe Illustrator

Final product image
What You’ll Be Creating

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

For starters, you will learn how to set up a simple grid, how to create pixel-perfect shapes, and how to adjust them. Using basic blending and vector shape building techniques, you will learn how to create the main shapes of your rocket and how to add subtle shading and highlights. 

Once you learn how to save some patterns and a pattern brush, we’ll move to the text. Using simple paths and your own rocket pattern brush, along with the Width Tool and some Drop Shadow effects, you will learn how to create the final text effect. Finally, taking full advantage of the Appearance panel, you will learn how to create some subtle sparks.

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 and 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 550 in the height box, and then click that More Settings button. Select RGB for the Color Mode, set the Raster Effects to Screen (72 ppi), and then click Create Document.

Enable the Grid (View > Show Grid) and the Snap to Grid (View > Snap to Grid). You will need a grid every 1 px, so simply go to Edit > Preferences > Guides & Grid, enter 1 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. All these options will significantly increase your work speed.

setup grid

2. How to Create the Tip of the Rocket

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=254 G=240 B=158. Move to your artboard and simply create a 36 x 4 px shape—the grid and the Snap to Grid should make it easier.

ellipse tool

Step 2

Keep focusing on your shape and pick the Direct Selection Tool (A). Select the top anchor point and simply drag it 38 px up, as shown in the following image.

direct selection tool

Step 3

Keep focusing on your shape and pick the Anchor Point Tool (Shift-C). Simply click the top anchor point and drag the handles 4 px horizontally, as shown in the first image. Once again, the grid will make things easier.

Move to the left and right anchor points and switch to the Direct Selection Tool (A). Select the top handles and drag them 4 px vertically as shown in the second image.

anchor point tool

Step 4

Make sure that your shape is still selected and make two copies in front (Control-C > Control-F > Control-F). Select the top copy and adjust its width to 34 px.

Reselect both copies made in this step, open the Pathfinder panel (Window > Pathfinder), and click the Minus Front button. Turn the resulting group of shapes into a compound path (Control-8 or Object > Compound Path > Make) and fill it with R=244 G=103 B=16.

pathfinder

Step 5

Reselect your pale yellow shape and make two copies in front (Control-C > Control-F > Control-F). Select the top copy and adjust its width to 30 px.

Reselect both copies made in this step and click the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Turn the resulting group of shapes into a compound path (Control-8) and fill it with R=248 G=141 B=34.

minus front

Step 6

Reselect your pale yellow shape and make two copies in front (Control-C > Control-F > Control-F). Select the top copy and adjust its width to 24 px.

Reselect both copies made in this step and click the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Turn the resulting group of shapes into a compound path (Control-8) and fill it with R=250 G=165 B=50.

minus front

Step 7

Reselect your pale yellow shape and make two copies in front (Control-C > Control-F > Control-F). Select the top copy and adjust its width to 14 px.

Reselect both copies made in this step and click the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Turn the resulting group of shapes into a compound path (Control-8) and fill it with R=252 G=192 B=71.

minus front

Step 8

Reselect your pale yellow shape and make two copies in front (Control-C > Control-F > Control-F). Select the top copy and adjust its width to 6 px.

Reselect both copies made in this step and click the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Turn the resulting group of shapes into a compound path (Control-8) and fill it with R=253 G=217 B=99.

minus front

Step 9

Pick the Ellipse Tool (L) and create a 36 x 4 px shape. Fill it with white (R=255 G=255 B=255) and place it as shown in the first image.

Keep focusing on this new shape and switch to the Direct Selection Tool (A). Select the top anchor point and drag it 1 px up. Reselect your entire white shape and go to the Appearance panel (Window > Appearance) or the Transparency panel (Window > Transparency). Lower the Opacity to 50% and change the Blending Mode to Overlay.

white transparency

Step 10

Pick the Ellipse Tool (L) and create a 36 x 4 px shape. Fill it with R=138 G=13 B=13 and place it as shown in the first image.

Make two copies of this new shape (Control-C > Control-F > Control-F). Select the top one and move it 1 px up. Reselect both copies and click the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Fill the resulting shape with black (R=0 G=0 B=0), lower its Opacity to 50%, and change the Blending Mode to Soft Light.

shadow

3. How to Create the Body of the Rocket

Step 1

Pick the Rectangle Tool (M) and create a 26 x 44 px shape. Fill it with R=251 G=176 B=59, place it exactly as shown in the following image, and then go to Effect > Stylize > Rounded Corners. Enter a 1 px Radius, click OK, and go to Object > Expand Appearance.

rounded corners

Step 2

Make sure that your yellow rounded rectangle is still selected and go to Effect > Warp > Arc Lower. Enter the attributes shown below, click OK, and go to Effect > Warp > Arc Upper. Enter the attributes shown below, click OK, and then go to Object > Expand Appearance.

warp

Step 3

Pick the Rectangle Tool (M) and create a 26 x 7 px shape. Fill it with R=200 G=50 B=50 and place it exactly as shown in the following image. Focus on the right side of this rectangle and switch to the Direct Selection Tool (A). Select both anchor points and simply drag them 12 px up as shown in the second image.

rectangle tool

Step 4

Make sure that your red shape is still selected and go to Effect > Warp > Bulge. Enter the attributes shown below, click OK, and go to Effect > Warp > Flag. Enter the attributes shown below and click OK.

warp

Step 5

Make sure that your red shape is still selected and go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Enter the attributes shown below, click OK, and then go to Object > Expand Appearance. Ungroup (Shift-Control-G) the resulting group and then turn all your red shapes into one compound path (Control-8).

transform

Step 6

Reselect your main yellow shape and make a copy in front (Control-C > Control-F). Select this copy along with your red compound path and click the Intersect button from the Pathfinder panel. Turn the resulting group of red shapes into a new compound path (Control-8).

intersect

Step 7

Select your main yellow shape and make a new copy in front (Control-C > Control-F). Pick the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 10 x 51 px shape, and place it as shown in the first image.

Select both shapes made in this step and click the Intersect button from the Pathfinder panel. Fill the resulting shape with white (R=255 G=255 B=255), lower its Opacity to 20%, and change the Blending Mode to Overlay.

highlight

Step 8

Select your main yellow shape and make a new copy in front (Control-C > Control-F). Pick the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 6 x 51 px shape, and place it as shown in the first image.

Select both shapes made in this step and click the Intersect button from the Pathfinder panel. Fill the resulting shape with white, lower its Opacity to 40%, and change the Blending Mode to Overlay.

highlight

Step 9

Select your main yellow shape and make a new copy in front (Control-C > Control-F). Pick the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 4 x 51 px shape, and place it as shown in the first image.

Select both shapes made in this step and click the Intersect button from the Pathfinder panel. Fill the resulting shape with white, lower its Opacity to 60%, and change the Blending Mode to Overlay.

highlight

Step 10

Select your main yellow shape and make a new copy in front (Control-C > Control-F). Pick the Rectangle Tool (M) and create two 6 x 51 px shapes. Place them as shown in the first image and then turn them into a compound path (Control-8).

Select both shapes made in this step and click the Intersect button from the Pathfinder panel. Turn the resulting group of shapes into a compound path and fill it with black. Lower its Opacity to 20% and change the Blending Mode to Soft Light.

shading

Step 11

Select your main yellow shape and make a new copy in front (Control-C > Control-F). Pick the Rectangle Tool (M) and create two 3 x 51 px shapes. Place them as shown in the first image and then turn them into a compound path (Control-8).

Select both shapes made in this step and click the Intersect button from the Pathfinder panel. Turn the resulting group of shapes into a compound path and fill it with black. Lower its Opacity to 40% and change the Blending Mode to Soft Light.

shading

Step 12

Select your main yellow shape and make a new copy in front (Control-C > Control-F). Pick the Rectangle Tool (M) and create two 1 x 51 px shapes. Place them as shown in the first image and then turn them into a compound path (Control-8).

Select both shapes made in this step and click the Intersect button from the Pathfinder panel. Turn the resulting group of shapes into a compound path and fill it with black. Lower its Opacity to 60% and change the Blending Mode to Soft Light.

shading

Step 13

Disable the Snap to Grid (Shift-Control-“) and then go to Edit > Preferences > General and make sure that the Keyboard Increment is set to 1 px.

Select your main yellow shape and make two copies in front (Control-C > Control-F > Control-F). Select the top copy and move it 3 px down using the Down Arrow button on your keyboard.

Once you’re done, select both copies and click the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Fill the resulting shape with R=138 G=13 B=13, lower its Opacity to 10%, and don’t forget to bring it to front (Shift-Control-]).

shading

Step 14

Select your main yellow shape and make two copies in front (Control-C > Control-F > Control-F). Select the top copy and move it 2 px down.

Once you’re done, select both copies and click the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Fill the resulting shape with R=138 G=13 B=13, lower its Opacity to 20%, and don’t forget to bring it to front (Shift-Control-]).

shading

Step 15

Select your main yellow shape and make two copies in front (Control-C > Control-F > Control-F). Select the top copy and move it 1 px down.

Once you’re done, select both copies and click the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Fill the resulting shape with R=138 G=13 B=13, lower its Opacity to 30%, and don’t forget to bring it to front (Shift-Control-]).

shading

4. How to Create the Rocket Fuse

Step 1

Enable the Snap to Grid (Control-“). Pick the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 4 x 40 px shape, fill it with R=130 G=142 B=165, and place it as shown in the first image.

Using the same tool, create a 1 x 40 px shape and place it as shown in the second image. Fill it with white, lower its Opacity to 40%, and change the Blending Mode to Overlay.

fuse

Step 2

Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 1 x 40 px shape and place it as shown in the first image. Fill it with black, lower its Opacity to 40%, and change the Blending Mode to Overlay.

Make a copy of this thin rectangle (Control-C > Control-V) and place it as shown in the second image.

fuse shading

Step 3

Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 4 px square and place it as shown in the first image. Fill it with black, lower its Opacity to 25%, and change the Blending Mode to Soft Light.

Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 4 x 2 px shape and place it as shown in the second image. Fill it with black, lower its Opacity to 50%, and change the Blending Mode to Soft Light.

fuse shading

Step 4

Disable the Snap to Grid (Control-“). Pick the Pen Tool (P) and create a simple path about as shown in the first image. Select it and focus on the Appearance panel.

Be sure that there’s no color set for the fill and then select the stroke. Set its color to R=105 G=5 B=5 and then open the Stroke fly-out panel. Set the Weight to 3 px and select Width Profile 4 from that Profile drop-down menu. With this brown path still selected, go to Object > Path > Outline Stroke.

stroke profile

Step 5

Select all the shapes highlighted in the following image and simply send them to back (Shift-Control-[).

send back

5. How to Create and Save a Pattern Brush

Step 1

Enable the Snap to Grid (Control-“). Select all the shapes made so far and rotate them 90 degrees as shown in the following image.

rotate

Step 2

Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 26 x 36 px shape, and place it exactly as shown in the following image. Fill it with R=147 G=39 B=143 and lower its Opacity to about 50%.

purple rectangle

Step 3

Select all the shapes made so far and duplicate them (Control-V). Place these copies below the original shapes. You don’t need to perfectly align them; just make sure that your two rockets don’t overlap.

duplicate

Step 4

Select all the shapes that make up your top rocket, along with that purple rectangle that lies above it, and pick the Shape Builder Tool (Shift-M). Hold the Shift and the Alt buttons on your keyboard and simply drag a rectangular selection from the left to the right edges of that purple rectangle. Try to get really close to those edges. This move will quickly remove that purple rectangle along with all the shapes that lie behind it.

In the end, things should look like in the second image. Take a good look at those two edges and make sure that there’s a smooth vertical wall. If you notice some tiny remains, use the same tool and technique to remove it.

shape builder tool

Step 5

Using the Direct Selection Tool (A), select the shapes highlighted in the first image and simply drag them inside the Swatches panel (Window > Swatches) to save them as a pattern.

Deselect your shapes and keep focusing on the Swatches panel. Make sure that your pattern is selected, open the fly-out panel from the Swatches panel, and go to Swatch Options…. Rename your pattern “EndTile” and then click OK.

Using the same tool, select the shapes highlighted in the second image and save them as a new pattern. Rename it “StartTile“.

save pattern

Step 6

Move to the second rocket and select all those shapes, including that purple rectangle. Pick the Shape Builder Tool (Shift-M), don’t forget to hold the Shift and Alt buttons, and drag a rectangular selection as shown in the first image. Go with that selection as close as you can to the edge of the purple rectangle.

Using the same tool and technique, drag a selection as shown in the second image. Again, take a closer look at those two edges and make sure that there’s a smooth vertical wall.

shape builder tool

Step 7

Remove that purple rectangle and select the remaining shapes (highlighted in the second image). Open the Brushes panel (Window > Brushes) and click that New Brush button. Check the Pattern Brush box and click the OK button. Pick a name for your pattern, make sure that the attributes are set as shown below, and then focus on the Tile boxes.

Simply open the Start Tile and add your “StartTile” pattern, and then open the End Tile and add your “EndTile” pattern. Once you’re done, click OK, and your new pattern brush will show up in the Brushes panel.

save pattern brush

6. How to Create the Background and the Text Effect

Step 1

Pick the Rectangle Tool (M) and create an 860 x 560 px shape. Make sure that it covers your entire artboard and fill it with the radial gradient shown below. Use the Gradient Tool (G) to stretch your gradient as shown in the following image.

background

Step 2

Pick the Type Tool (T) and open the Character panel (Window > Type > Character). Select the Brush Script MT Italic font and set the size to 300 pt.

Simple click on your artboard and add the “2018” piece of text. Make it white and lower its Opacity to about 30%.

type tool

Step 3

Disable the Snap to Grid (Control-“).

Using the Pen Tool (P) or the Brush Tool (B), draw simple paths along your text as shown in the following image. Make sure that there’s no fill color set for these paths and add a subtle white stroke, for now.

pen tool

Step 4

Select the white paths made in the previous step and simply replace the existing white stroke with your rocket pattern brush. Once you’re done, you can remove that piece of text.

apply pattern brush

Step 5

Select your first rocket path and focus on the top end point. Pick the Width Tool (Shift-W), click that anchor point, and simply drag to the outside to enlarge the applied brush.

Keep focusing on your selected path and move to bottom end point. Using the same tool, click that anchor point, and simply drag to the inside to squeeze your brush. In the end, things should look roughly as shown in the second image.

Move to the other three rocket paths and use the same technique to adjust them about as shown in the third image.

width tool

Step 6

Select all four rocket paths and go to Effect > Stylize > Drop Shadow. Enter the attributes shown below, click OK, and go again to Effect > Stylize > Drop Shadow. This time, enter the attributes shown in the right window and click OK.

drop shadow

7. How to Create Several Sparks

Step 1

Enable the Snap to Grid (Control-“). Pick the Ellipse Tool (L), create a 20 px circle, and fill it R=244 G=103 B=16.

Make sure that this new shape stays selected and focus on the Appearance panel. Select the fill, lower its Opacity to 60% and go to Effect > Path > Offset Path. Enter a 2 px Offset, click OK, and then go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Zig Zag. Enter the attributes shown below and click OK.

zig zag

Step 2

Make sure that your 20 px circle stays selected and keep focusing on the Appearance panel. Add a second fill using the Add New Fill button and select it.

Set the color to R=250 G=165 B=50, lower its Opacity to 70% and go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Zig Zag. Enter the attributes shown below and click OK.

add new fill

Step 3

Make sure that your 20 px circle is still selected and keep focusing on the Appearance panel. Add a third fill and select it.

Set the color to R=253 G=217 B=99, lower its Opacity to 80% and go to Effect > Path > Offset Path. Enter a -4 px Offset, click OK, and go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Zig Zag. Enter the attributes shown below and click OK.

offset path

Step 4

Make sure that your 20 px circle is still selected and keep focusing on the Appearance panel. Select the entire path and go to Effect > Stylize > Outer Glow. Enter the attributes shown below and click OK.

outer glow

Step 5

Make a few copies of your 20 px circle and spread them as shown in the following image.

sparks

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. Don’t hesitate to share your final result in the comments section.

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