Create Advanced 3D Neon Text in Illustrator with the Blend Tool
What is the blend tool?
The blend tool is a powerful tool that allows you to distribute shapes evenly, blend between two open paths and combine blends of colours to create some interesting and useful effects.
In today’s tutorial we’re going to be combining a few of these techniques to create our 3D neon lettering effect. I’ll be sharing with you the basic behind the technique and how to develop it into something a little more advanced.
Document Set Up
First of all…
If you want to follow along the document size I’m going to be using is 1000px x 1000px but the document size doesn’t really matter, this technique will work at any size.
How to apply a blend to a path.
To start off we are going to want to create the blend that we want to add to our path.
Start off by drawing a circle with a diameter of 41px. Once we have drawn our circle we are going to duplicate this by using the Selection tool (V), then holding Alt to duplicate as well as Shift to drag the second circle out level with the first one.
After we have our two circles, we need to add a gradient to each as this is what will create the shading on the lettering.
Im using a pink to purple gradient with an angle of -45 but you can use what ever gradient you like.
As soon as you have added the gradients to the circles its time make the blend itself. To do this we can either use the blend tool (W) in the toolbar or we can find it under the object menu.
Object > Blend > Make Blend
You will need to go to blend options
Object > Blend > Blend Options
and change the spacing to “Specified Steps ” and “1000” we need to set this value as high as possible as its what creates the smooth gradient. depending on the length of the path you are adding this too you may need to alter . the number of steps but this can be done easily by going back up to blend options.
After you have the gradient blend it’s time to add this blend to a path. So the first thing you need to do is create the path you want to add the blend too. if you have more than one path you need to add the blend too you will need to duplicate the gradient blend for each path you need to add it to.
There are a few ways you can create a path to add your gradient blend to.
Pen Tool (P)
Pencil Tool (N)
To name a few.
Now you have created your path it’s time to add the blend to the path. to do this switch back to the Selection tool (V) and highlight both the path and the gradient blend. After that go to.
Object > Blend > Replace Spine
(5:10 into video)
if you have a font you like and want to add this technique too, this can be achieved quite quickly by writing out the word you want in the font you want to use. Then using the the pen tool going through each letter tracing the shape.
(6:20 into video )
Alternatively depending on the shape of the letters you can also use the blend tool to create a single central path to do this you will need to make sure you outline the font you are using, then you will need to make sure you release the compound path as this will prevent the blend from working.
Object > Compound Path > Release
Remove the end points from the letter so you are left with 2 parallel paths. Select both of the paths then go to:
Object > Blend > Make
You should be left with a single path in the centre of the original two. You may need to go back to blend options and change the spacing to “Specified Steps ” and “1” as it may still have the 1000 from earlier.
Once you have traced the letters creating a single path for each. Create your blend as we did before and duplicate it for each individual path.
Then select one of the paths and one of the blend and go to.
Object > Blend > Replace Spine
Repeat this for all of the other letters.
Depending on how the blend falls on the letters you can play about to fine tune it to something you’re happy with, you can also go back up to blend and reverse the direction the blend is following the path.
Final Thoughts and Uses
Using the blend tool you can create some interesting and unique effects to add to your artwork. Why not try to alter the sizes of the circles used for the star and finish ones an even the shapes and see what you can come up with.
There you have it, how to create a 3D neon text effect in Adobe Illustrator using the blend tool.
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