Deke’s Techniques: Adding photographic texture to vector type in Illustrator

Published by | Tuesday, June 12th, 2012

This week’s Deke’s Techniques video demonstrates the relatively simple, but oh-so-useful method for filling your Illustrator type with a photographic image. The steps are straightforward, but you’ll need Illustrator CS5 or better in order to use the handy (and crucial to this technique) Draw Inside mode. With Draw Inside mode active, it’s just a matter of selecting the text you’d like to alter and placing your photographic texture of choice inside the type.

If you want a stroke or a drop shadow, you’ll need to use the Layers panel to select your text independent from your image texture, then skillfully navigate the Appearance panel in order to add stroke and drop-shadow effects to the appropriate object inside of Illustrator. (Rookie’s note from a fellow Illustrator rookie: Make sure you choose the Stylize menu item from the top of the Effects menu, not the second half.) The final result is this formerly boring text on the left turned into the editable, tweakable barn-stormin’ effect on the right.

Example of photographic texture added to type in Photoshop.

For members of, Deke’s also has another member-exclusive video this week called Adding strokes behind photo type that shows you how to create a double stroke around this effect. It sounds simple, but it’s Illustrator, so you’ll be happy Deke is by your side with answers to the oddly complicated nuances you’ll encounter when tackling this technique.

See you back here next week when Deke returns with another quick and useful technique!


Interested in more?
• The entire Deke’s Techniques weekly series on
• All Illustrator courses on
• All Design courses on
• All courses by Deke McClelland on

Suggested courses to watch next:
• Illustrator CS6 One-on-One: Fundamentals
• Illustrator CS5 One-on-One: Fundamentals
 Illustrator Insider Training: Type and Text

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2 Responses to “Deke’s Techniques: Adding photographic texture to vector type in Illustrator”

  1. I liked 77% opacity for drop shadow.

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