Using the Appearance panel along with Stylism to create 3D text effect in Illustrator

In today's tutorial we will learn how to use the Appearance panel and Stylism plug-in for creating a complex 3D text effect. You will learn how to use Stylism to add effects and target fills or strokes.

Step 1

Take the Type Tool (T) and create the letter S. I used Myriad Pro font for this example.

Using the Appearance panel along with Stylism to create 3D text effect in Illustrator

Open the Appearance panel (Window > Appearance). Keeping the letter S selected, create a new fill by pressing the Add New Fill icon in the panel.

Using the Appearance panel along with Stylism to create 3D text effect in Illustrator

Replace the black fill with a vertical linear gradient, which consists of two shades of blue.

Using the Appearance panel along with Stylism to create 3D text effect in Illustrator

Double-click on the Characters attribute in the Appearance panel, then remove the black fill.

Using the Appearance panel along with Stylism to create 3D text effect in Illustrator

Now double click on the Type attribute in the panel.

Using the Appearance panel along with Stylism to create 3D text effect in Illustrator

Add another new fill in the Appearance panel, then set it with a new gradient which consists of three shades of blue, as it is shown below.

Using the Appearance panel along with Stylism to create 3D text effect in Illustrator

Step 2

Next we will be applying live Illustrator Effects using Stylism. After installing the plug-in (available as a free 14 day trial), the Stylism Tool icon appears on the Tools panel. To open its panel, go to Window > Stylism > Stylism panel.

Using the Appearance panel along with Stylism to create 3D text effect in Illustrator

Apply an Offset Path Effect to our letter by clicking on the appropriate button in the Stylism panel.

Using the Appearance panel along with Stylism to create 3D text effect in Illustrator

As you can see, with the Stylism tool still enabled, an annotation appears allowing you to manage settings and options of the Effect directly on the object without opening the dialog box. This feature of the Stylism plug-in saves time and gives more convenient visual control over the applied effects.

Step 3

After applying any live effect using Stylism, it appears at the bottom of the attributes stack in the Appearance panel and will be applied to the entire object.

Using the Appearance panel along with Stylism to create 3D text effect in Illustrator

If you want to target only a fill or stroke with an Effect, it is necessary to move this Effect onto that fill or stroke in the Appearance Panel. For this example, move the Offset Path Effect onto the upper fill.

Using the Appearance panel along with Stylism to create 3D text effect in Illustrator

Now to set the desired value, move the Offset control.

Using the Appearance panel along with Stylism to create 3D text effect in Illustrator

To set the exact value of the parameter, double click on the Offset control, which will open the dialog box. Set the value equal to -5px.

Using the Appearance panel along with Stylism to create 3D text effect in Illustrator

Step 4

Create a new fill by clicking on the Add New Fill button.

Using the Appearance panel along with Stylism to create 3D text effect in Illustrator

Move it to the very bottom of the attributes stack in the Appearance panel.

Using the Appearance panel along with Stylism to create 3D text effect in Illustrator

Apply a new linear gradient to the lower fill that contains darker shades of blue, as shown in the picture below.

Using the Appearance panel along with Stylism to create 3D text effect in Illustrator

Step 5

Select the Transform Live Effect button in the Stylism panel.

Using the Appearance panel along with Stylism to create 3D text effect in Illustrator

Move the Transform Effect onto the lower fill.

Using the Appearance panel along with Stylism to create 3D text effect in Illustrator

With the help of the Copies control of the Transform annotation set 40 copies and the amount of horizontal displacement to 1px in the Transform dialog box.

Using the Appearance panel along with Stylism to create 3D text effect in Illustrator

As you can see, to increase in the number of copies by multiples of 10, I used the Shift modifier (for full details see Stylism Keyboard Shortcuts).

Step 6

Create a new fill in the Appearance panel. Move this fill to the bottom of the stack of attributes. Now apply it to a vertical linear gradient from gray-blue to white color.

Using the Appearance panel along with Stylism to create 3D text effect in Illustrator

Select the Free Distort Effect button in the Stylism panel.

Using the Appearance panel along with Stylism to create 3D text effect in Illustrator

Now move this Effect onto the bottom fill in the Appearance panel.

Using the Appearance panel along with Stylism to create 3D text effect in Illustrator

Step 7

Drag the Free Distort bounding box side to create a drop shadow from the letter as shown below:

Using the Appearance panel along with Stylism to create 3D text effect in Illustrator

Certainly, control over the Distort effect using the Stylism is much more convenient than using the native dialog box, which does not even have the preview option.

Step 8

Now we can save the created style in the Graphic Style panel and apply it to edited or outline text.

Using the Appearance panel along with Stylism to create 3D text effect in Illustrator

Using the Appearance panel along with Stylism to create 3D text effect in Illustrator

Using live Effects allows us to quickly experiment with the style by altering the color used within the appearances and attributes.

Using the Appearance panel along with Stylism to create 3D text effect in Illustrator

Download the artwork

Click here for Illustrator CS5 and above…

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