Deke’s Techniques: Drawing a highly graphic text explosion in Illustrator

Published by | Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

Rumor has it that next month Adobe Illustrator will turn 25 years old. To celebrate, Deke offers a free technique this week that uses Illustrator to make its own graphic celebratory explosion. You’ll start with some ordinary text, set in an ordinary font, and then you will attach eye-catching stroke effects around it, using a variety of commands from Illustrator’s Effect menu (including a bit of Transform goodness, some offset paths, and the delightfully named Pucker and Bloat commands). After that, Deke shows you how to fill the text and create a series of strokes to form an outline.

Illustrator text with eye-catching stroke effects

Eventually, you can save the whole slew of effects (accumulated in the Appearance panel) as a graphic style to be reused in the second phase of the technique.

To make the “explosion” part of the graphic, you’ll start with a single line segment emanating from the center of the drawing. Next, Deke shows you a super secret way to create a random cacophony of duplicate lines. (OK, it’s all about holding down the tilde key [~], but it’s quick and cool.) Now, you can apply the graphic style you’ve created from the text, turn off some of the options in the Appearance panel, change the fill color, and speedily create a complementary (and no less explosive) effect for the burst of lines. The results explosively speak for themselves. Meanwhile the text is editable, so you can update your center message at will (or depending on the age of your subject). Happy graphic explosion birthday, Illustrator! You’ve earned it.

Adobe Illustrator text with explosive line effect

Deke will be back next week with another free technique (and a couple of exclusive variations exclusively for members).

Interested in more?

• the entire collection of Deke’s Techniques on
• All Illustrator courses on
• All Design courses on
• All courses by Deke McClelland on

Suggested courses to watch next:
• Up and Running with Illustrator
• Illustrator CS5 One-on-One: Advanced
• Illustrator CS5 Essential Training
Illustrator Insider Training: Rethinking the Essentials

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