Illustrator tutorial: 80’s Metal Text Effect

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In this tutorial, you’ll create an 80’s metal text effect in Adobe Illustrator. First, you will learn how to create a fantasy background using the basic shapes and some effects. Next, using a nice font, some basic vector shape building techniques and a bunch of linear gradients you will create the actual text effect. So, let’s begin!

Create a New document

  1. Launch Illustrator and then press (Ctrl + N) to create a New document. Select Pixels from the Units drop-down menu, enter 1200 in the width box and 860 in the height box 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.

Create a Background

2. Pick the Rectangle Tool (M) and create a 1200 by 860px rectangle. Then fill the newly created rectangle with the linear gradient like you see in the first image. Still having the resulting rectangle selected and make a copy (Ctrl +C, Ctrl +F) of it. Replace the existing fill color of the copy with new linear gradient as shown in the second image. Keep the resulting rectangle selected and go to the Effect > Sketch > Halftone Pattern… Follow the data like you see in the third image and click OK. Finally change the Blending Mode of the resulting rectangle to Color Dodge and then reduce its Opacity to 50%.

3. With the help of the Pen Tool (P) and the Gradient Tool (G), create a very dark violet shape like you see in the images below.

4. Using the Line Segment Tool (\)create a vertical line of length 250px, with a 2px yellow stroke and no fill. Keep working with the Line Segment Tool (\), create some green lines as shown in the second image. Once your green lines are drawn, reselect them all. Then pick the Reflect Tool (O), hold down the Alt and click on the yellow line. In the Reflect dialog box, check the Vertical and click Copy. The resulting lines should look like the next to last image below. Continue with the Line Segment Tool (\), create a horizontal line of length 1500px, with a 2px red stroke and no fill. Make nine copies of the red horizontal line and then place them all to the positions as shown in the last image.

5. Select and group (Ctrl +G) all lines created in the step 4, then replace the existing stroke colors of the newly created group with very soft blue (# 8dd5f3). Next change the Blending Mode of the resulting group to Overlay. Now select the shape created in the step 3 and make a copy (Ctrl +C, Ctrl +F) of it, then bring the copy to front (Ctrl +Shift +Right Square Bracket). Still having the copy selected, hold down the Shift and click on the group created in this step. Right click on the artboard and then select the Make Clipping Mask section from the drop-down menu

6. With the Pen Tool (P), create a very dark violet shape (# 1c1622) like you see in the first and the second images. Make a copy (Ctrl +C, Ctrl +F) of the newly created shape. Remove the fill color of the copy and add a 5px strong blue stroke (# 1c44c5), then apply the Width Profile 2 for the resulting object. Now with the Direct Selection Tool (A) and the Shift, select two anchor points highlighted with yellow of the strong blue object. Next click on the “Cut path at selected anchor points” icon from the Properties This make the strong blue object become two paths. Select and remove the lower path. Reselect the remaining path and go to the Effect > Blur > Gaussian Blur… Enter a 8px Radius and click OK. Now select the very dark violet shape created in this step and make a copy (Ctrl +C, Ctrl +C) of it, then bring the copy to front (Ctrl +Shift +Right Square Bracket). Having the copy selected, hold down the Shift and click on the path with blur effect applied in this step. Right-click on the artboard and then select the Make Clipping Mask section from the drop-down menu.

7. At this point your background should look like in the next image:

8. Pick the Ellipse Tool (L) and create a 660 by 585px yellow ellipse, then place it to the position as shown in the first image. Reselect the newly created ellipse and go to the Object > Path > Offset Path… Enter a -20px Offset and click OK, then replace the existing stroke color of the newly created ellipse with red.

9. Select the red ellipse created in the step 8, remove its stroke and fill this object with the linear gradient as shown in the first image. Next change the Blending Mode of the resulting ellipse to Overlay. Keep the resulting ellipse selected and make a copy (Ctrl +C, Ctrl +F) of it. Still having the copy selected, change the Blending Mode to Normal. Remove the fill color of the resulting ellipse and add a 10px stroke (apply the linear gradient across stroke). Then apply the Width Profile 2 and a 4px Gaussian Blur effect for the resulting ellipse. Finally hide it behind the ellipse edited in first image of this step.

10. Select the yellow ellipse created in the step 8, change the stroke weight to 8px and replace the existing stroke color with the linear gradient within stroke as shown in the first image. Apply the Width Profile 2 and a 20px Gaussian Blur effect for the resulting ellipse. Finally change the Blending Mode of this ellipse to Color Dodge.

Adding the Flares

11. Using the Line Segment Tool (\)create a vertical line of length 85px, with a green stroke and no fill. Next create a horizontal line of length 60px, with a yellow stroke and no fill. Reselect the two newly created lines, open the Align palette (Window > Align) and click on the Vertical Align Center button, then click on the Horizontal Align Center Keep these two lines selected, change the stroke weight to 4px and replace the existing stroke color with pale red (# ffadad). Finally apply the Width Profile 1 and a 4px Feather effect for the resulting lines.

12. Select the two lines created in the step 11 and go to the Object > Transform > Rotate… Enter a 52 degrees Angle and click Copy. Change the stroke weight of the copies to 2px and replace the existing stroke color with very soft orange (# f1c69f). Keep the resulting lines selected, open the Appearance palette (Window > Appearance) and click on the Feather In the Feather dialog box, enter a 2px Radius and click OK. Still having the resulting lines selected and go to the Object > Transform > Scale… Enter a 26% in the Scale box and click OK. The resulting lines should look like the last image below.

13. Pick the Ellipse Tool (L) and create a 40 by 40px light red ellipse (# ff685d). Make sure that the light red ellipse is still selected, hold down the Shift and click on the vertical line created in the step 11. Release the Shift and click on the vertical line created in the step 11 again (to fixed its position). Then open the Align palette (Window > Align), click on the Vertical Align Center button and click on the Horizontal Align Center button. Reselect the light red ellipse and apply a 6px Gaussian Blur effect for it, then change the Opacity to 30%. Still having the resulting ellipse selected and go to the Object > Transform > Scale… Enter a 18% in the Scale box and click Copy, then replace the existing fill color of the copy with pale red (# ffa9b0). Keep the pale red ellipse selected, open the Appearance palette (Window > Appearance) and click on the Gaussian Blur section. In the Gaussian Blur dialog box, enter a 3px Radius and click OK. Still having the resulting ellipse selected, change the Opacity to 100%. Finally select and group (Ctrl +G) all objects created from beginning step 11 to this time, then change the Blending Mode of this group to Hard Light. The flare is ready and looks like in the last image.

14. Likewise, repeat the same process as the previous steps to draw two more flares

15. Select the right flare created in the step 14 and make some copies of it. Place these flares to the positions as shown in the first image. Then scale them as needed. Continue place the red and the blue flares to the positions like you see in the second image. Now select the ellipse edited in first image of the step 9 and make a copy (Ctrl +C, Ctrl +F) of it. Keep the copy selected and remove all existing appearances. Next remove the fill color of the resulting ellipse and add a 4px soft red stroke (# f6664a). Then apply the Width Profile 1 for the resulting ellipse. With the help of the Add Anchor Point Tool (+), add four anchor points at the points highlighted with yellow of the soft red ellipse. Next select the four newly added anchor points and click on the “Cut path at selected anchor points” icon from the Properties bar. This make the soft red ellipse becomes four curved paths. Select and remove the two longer curved paths. Next select the two remaining curved paths and apply a 3px Feather effect for them. Finally reselect the lower path and replace the existing stroke color with slightly cyan (# 72d1cc).

16. This is how the background should look at this stage.

Creating the Main Shape

17. Pick the Type Tool (T) and open the Character palette (Window > Type > Character). Use the UTM Futura Extra font, set the size to 242px, and then simply click on your artboard. Add the “RETO” text and set its color to black. Reselect the newly created text and go to the Object > Expand… Click OK when the Expand dialog box appear, then press (Ctrl +Shift +G) to ungroup the resulting group. Remove the fill color of the newly created letters and then add a 2px black stroke for them. Keep the resulting letters selected and go to the Object > Path > Offset Path… Enter a -8px Offset and click OK, then replace the existing stroke color of the newly created objects with red. Now select all black and red objects created in this step and make a copy (Ctrl +C, Ctrl +F) of them, then press (Ctrl +3) to hide the copies.

18. Before you continue, select all black and red objects created in the step 17 and go to the Object > Release Compound Path. Now focus on the letter “R”, pick the Add Anchor Point Tool (+) and add two anchor points at the points highlighted with green. Next pick the Direct Selection Tool (A), select and remove the anchor point highlighted with yellow. With the help of the Direct Selection Tool (A) and the Shift, select anchor points highlighted with blue of the letter “R”. Next click on the “Cut path at selected anchor points” icon from the Properties Now focus on the last image, select the two anchor points highlighted with green and click on the “Cut path at selected anchor points” icon. This make the black and the red objects of the letter “R” become separate paths.

19. Select two paths as shown in the first image, right click on the artboard and select the Join section from the drop-down menu. Next right click on the artboard again and select the Join Keep the resulting object selected and replace the existing stroke color with blue. Now select the two paths like you see in the third image and then press (Ctrl +J) twice times to connect them. Finally replace the existing stroke color of the resulting object with blue.

20. Likewise, repeat the same process as the step 19 to create more blue objects. Also you can see them all in the last image.

21. Next come the letter “E”. Pick the Direct Selection Tool (A), drag the mouse to the direction of the blue arrow to create a marquee as shown in the first image. This will select anchor points like you see in the second image. Next click on the “Cut path at selected anchor points” icon from the Properties Focus on the third image and repeat the same process as the previous steps to select anchor points on the right side of the letter “E”. Then click on the “Cut path at selected anchor points” icon. Now select the two paths like you see in the fifth image and then press (Ctrl +J) twice times to connect them. Next replace the existing stroke color of the resulting object with blue. Likewise, repeat the same process to create more blue objects of the letter “E”. Also you can see them all in the last image.

22. We will continue with the letter “T”. Pick the Direct Selection Tool (A), drag the mouse to the direction of the blue arrow to create a marquee as shown in the first image. This will select anchor points like you see in the second image. Next click on the “Cut path at selected anchor points” icon from the Properties Focus on the third image and repeat the same process as the previous steps to select anchor points on the right side of the letter “T”. Then click on the “Cut path at selected anchor points” icon. Now select the two paths like you see in the fifth image and then press (Ctrl +J) twice times to connect them. Next replace the existing stroke color of the resulting object with blue. Likewise, repeat the same process to create more blue objects of the letter “T”. Also you can see them all in the last image.

23. Continue on to the “O“. With the help of the Direct Selection Tool (A) and the Shift, select eight anchor points highlighted with blue. Then click on the “Cut path at selected anchor points” icon from the Properties This make the two ellipses become eight curved paths. Now select the two paths like you see in the second image and then press (Ctrl +J) twice times to connect them. Next replace the existing stroke color of the resulting object with blue. Likewise, repeat the same process to create more blue objects of the letter “O”. Also you can see them all in the last image.

24. At this point your letters should look like in the first image. Before you continue, press (Ctrl +Alt +3) to show the black and the red objects hidden in the step 17.

Add Color for the Letters

25. Select the red object of the letter “R”, remove its stroke and then fill this object with the linear gradient as shown in the first image below. Now reselect the red objects of the remaining three letters. Then pick the Eyedropper Tool (I) and click on the shape you just filled with linear gradient of the letter “R”. The resulting shapes should look like the second image below.

26. Select the left blue object of the letter “R”, remove its stroke and then fill this object with the linear gradient as shown in the first image. Next, follow the sequence of images and apply the linear gradients for the remaining blue objects of the letter “R”.

27. Now, follow the sequence of images and apply the linear gradients for the blue objects of the letter “E”.

28. Continue apply the linear gradients for the blue objects of the remaining two letters.

29. At this point your letters should look like in the next image:

30. Focus on the letter “R”, select the shape filled with linear gradient in the step 25 and make a copy (Ctrl +C, Ctrl +F) of it. Remove the fill color of the copy and add a 2px pale yellow stroke (# ffe8a1). Then change the Blending Mode of the resulting object to Overlay. Now select the three shapes filled with linear gradients in the step 25 of the remaining three letters. Next pick the Eyedropper Tool (I) and click on the pale yellow object of the letter “R”. The resulting objects should look like the last image below.

31. Select all objects of the letter “O”, drag them to the right and place them as shown in the first image. Don’t forget to hold the Shift key on the keyboard for straight dragging. Next select all objects of the letter “R” and make a copy (Ctrl +C, Ctrl +F) of them. Keep the copies selected and drag them to the right, then place them as shown in the second image.

32. Select the black objects of the letters and bring them to front (Ctrl +Shift +Right Square Bracket). Still having the black objects selected, fill them with very pale yellow (# ffffe5) and then replace the existing stroke color with very dark pink (# 54192c). Make a copy (Ctrl +C, Ctrl +F) of the resulting shapes, then press (Ctrl +3) to hide the copies. Now reselect the five pale yellow original shapes and go to the Effect > Stylize > Outer Glow… Follow the data like you see in the second image and click OK. Finally hide the resulting shapes behind the letters.

33. Before you continue, press (Ctrl +Alt +3) to show five shapes hidden in the step 32, then remove the strokes of them. Now reselect the very pale yellow shape of the letter “R” and go to the Effect > Stylize > Drop Shadow… Follow the data like you see in the second image and click OK. Likewise, repeat the same process to apply the Drop Shadow effects for the very pale yellow shapes of the remaining four letters. Finally select all five shapes with shadow effects applied in this step, then hide them behind the letters.

34. Select and group (Ctrl +G) all letters created from beginning step 17 to this time. Then place this group to the position as shown below.

Creating Other Letters

35. With the help of the Pen Tool (P), draw the letters like you see in the images below. You should end up with something like in the last image. After you are done creating the letters, reselect and group (Ctrl +G) them.

36. Place the group created in the step 35 to the position as shown in the first image. Make sure that this group is still selected, make a copy (Ctrl +C, Ctrl +F) of it, then press (Ctrl +3) to hide the copy. Now reselect the original group, change the stroke weight to 10px and replace the existing stroke color with dark cyan (# 0086a3). Then apply the Width Profile 4 for the resulting group. Keep this group selected and go to the Effect > Stylize > Outer Glow… Follow the data like you see in the third image and click OK.

37. Before you continue, press (Ctrl +Alt +3) to show the group hidden in the step 36. Replace the existing stroke color of this group with light cyan (# 3cffff) and change the stroke weight to 3px. Then apply the Width Profile 1 for the resulting group.

Here is what the completed design looks like.

Download print version of this Illustrator tutorial.

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