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Oct 23

Offset Path on text in Illustrator

2008 at 07.56 am posted by Veerle Pieters

In my previous article I talked about how you can apply a line pattern effect on text in Illustrator where I showed 3 different techniques. The last technique bugged me because it wasn’t a really ideal one. It involved a lot of tweaking. In the comments Jesse and Amanda suggested an interesting approach definitely interesting enough to investigate and try out…

Type text and create outlines

  • Type your text
  • Select the text using the black arrow
  • Create outlines/paths of the text: hit command/control + shift + o

Type text and create outlines

Offset Path

Offset Path

  • Select the text using the black arrow
  • Go to Object > Path > Offset Path
  • Check Preview option and enter Offset value and click OK
  • Go to Object > Path > Offset Path again
  • Check Preview option and enter the same value, click OK
  • Go to Object > Path > Offset Path again
  • Check Preview option and enter the same value, click OK

Offset Path

Add color

Add color

  • Select the outer path of each letter (using the Shift key for multiple selection)
  • Apply the color of your choice

Add color

  • Select the 1st inner path of each letter (as shown in the image above)
  • Apply the color of your choice

Add color

  • Select the next inner path of each letter (as shown in the image above)
  • Apply the color of your choice

Add color

  • Select the most inner path of each letter (as shown in the image above)
  • Apply the color of your choice

Conclusion

It's an efective technique, but as you can see the colors are applied in a different way than they are in version 1 of my previous article. They are applied from the outside in (double) and not from left to right. If I want the colors to be applied in the exact same way than this is still not the solution. There is a way to use the Offset Path technique and change the way the colors are applied, but it will only work for uneven numbers of lines. When you apply Offset Path it's impossible to end up with 4 strokes for a letter that has a compound shape such as the O. You always end up with an uneven number of lines. Even then you'll have to release all compound shapes and create new ones so you can color the lines in a different order (from left to right).

Update!

You can achieve the same results using the Appearance panel with multiple fill and offset path effect. Big advantage, is that the text remain editable, you can save the results as a graphic style, and it remain editable easily for last minutes tweaking.

Thank you, Jean-Claude Tremblay, for this valuable information that I bluntly overlooked :) In CS4 the Filters menu has been removed from the top menu and moved into the Appearance palette. In CS3 or older versions (up to version 9) you can achieve the same effect using the Appearance Panel, you don’t need CS4. Once you have the text, go to the Appearance Panel and click on the Flyout menu and choose add new fill. Double click the swatch for the fill to select a color. Then, add another fill. Choose a color for it. Then, with the fill still selected in the Appearance Panel, go to Effect >Path >Offset Path. Repeat the addition of new fill and Offset Path effect for each successive band of color.

Want to learn more?

VECTORTUTS+ Vector Tutorials and More A good and not expensive source to learn more about Illustrator, Photoshop, or web design is by joining the Tuts+ sites. You get access to the source files for just $9 a month. So your ONE membership gives you access to members-only content for ALL the Plus sites. I've written a tutorial for the Vector Tuts section.


17served

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permalink this comment dinesh Thu Oct 23, 2008 at 09.31 am

Hi Veerle, Thanks for sharing.


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permalink this comment Jean-Claude Tremblay Thu Oct 23, 2008 at 10.11 am

You don’t really need to convert the text to outline. You can achieve the same results using the Appearance panel with multiple fill and offset path effect. Big advantage, is that the text remain editable, you can save the results as a graphic style, and it remain editable easily for last minutes tweaking.


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permalink this comment Jim Thu Oct 23, 2008 at 10.24 am

Hi, this time it was not so great. But thanks anyway


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permalink this comment Veerle Pieters Thu Oct 23, 2008 at 12.26 pm

Jean-Claude Tremblay said:

You don’t really need to convert the text to outline. You can achieve the same results using the Appearance panel with multiple fill and offset path effect. Big advantage, is that the text remain editable, you can save the results as a graphic style, and it remain editable easily for last minutes tweaking.

Ah yes of course! In CS4 the Appearance palette has been given a serious update and the Filters has been moved from the top menu into the Appearance palette. I totally overlooked this fact. Thank you for sharing :) I guess for CS3 users you can achieve exactly the same via the Effects menu. I’ve updated my article since this is too important not too mention.


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permalink this comment Jesse Thu Oct 23, 2008 at 02.44 pm

Veerle, thanks for noticing my comment.
Jean-Claude, that sounds great, I can’t wait to get my hands on CS4. Where I work we are a bit behind the curve. As for CS4 features, I’m more excited about the transparency in gradients and the separations preview, but it seems that the appearance palette will have some happy upgrades as well.
Veerle, you should do a tutorial on the CS4 transparency in gradients as compared to the CS3 way of using a clunky opacity mask.


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permalink this comment jean-Claude Tremblay Thu Oct 23, 2008 at 03.01 pm

Hey, folks! The appearance trick using multiple fills and effects works in Illustrator 9 and up. No need to wait for CS4.


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permalink this comment Jared Shenson Thu Oct 23, 2008 at 05.31 pm

Veerle-

Actually you can achieve the same effect using the Appearance Panel in CS3, you don’t need CS4. Once you have the text, go to the Appearance Panel and click on the Flyout menu and choose add new fill. Double click the swatch for the fill to select a color. Then, add another fill. Choose a color for it. Then, with the fill still selected in the Appearance Panel, go to Effect->Path->Offset Path. Repeat the addition of new fill and Offset Path effect for each successive band of color.


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permalink this comment Veerle Pieters Thu Oct 23, 2008 at 06.06 pm

Jared Shenson said:

Actually you can achieve the same effect using the Appearance Panel in CS3

I know that’s what I said in the comment 4 above :) I’ve added it in the article as well so that people who don’t see the comment know it as well. Thanks ;)


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permalink this comment Ola Fri Oct 24, 2008 at 09.36 pm

Thx for sharing!
I was wondering though; is there a specific reason y it’s applied over the word OLA :D


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permalink this comment Dainis Graveris Sat Oct 25, 2008 at 12.16 pm

oh, I can’t remember where I’ve seen something like this, but great way to originate the text!


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permalink this comment Cheryl Tue Oct 28, 2008 at 06.26 am

Great stuff and as usual thanks for sharing!


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permalink this comment Jose Tue Oct 28, 2008 at 07.54 pm

Really Useful, thanks.


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permalink this comment Joseph Hodges Wed Oct 29, 2008 at 01.05 pm

Great tutorial, as always! :) It gave some really interesting design ideas, so I can’t wait to try them out. Ola is my girlfriend’s name ;)


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permalink this comment Gisele Sat Nov 1, 2008 at 08.09 pm

Ey Dear! Really awesome post :) It’s going to my reader favs for future uses :D Thanks for sharing ideas :D


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permalink this comment cafetu Sun Nov 2, 2008 at 06.58 pm

hello veerle. thanks you. Great stuff and as usual thanks for sharing!


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permalink this comment david downing Wed Nov 5, 2008 at 05.06 pm

Great methods. Lots of great possibilities will come out of this tutorial for me. Thanks!

My effort: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ovidnine/3005768230



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