Deke’s Techniques: Creating a classic carved font by hand in Illustrator

Published by | Tuesday, September 25th, 2012

In this week’s free episode of Deke’s Techniques, Deke shows you how to take any font you like and give it a carved, sculpted, or engraved effect.

As Deke points out in the video, some fonts already have an engraved, or sculpted effect built in, like Imprint Shadow for instance:

The Imprint Shadow font

You don’t have to rely on a font to come with this effect though. You can create your own built-up, carved effect using any font you have available, Adobe Illustrator, and a host of Transform and Offset effects applied systematically to a collection of strokes and fills. Take this type from last week’s project, which is set in the classic 1910 typeface Hobo, for instance:

1910 typeface Hobo

In the video, you’ll see how Deke transforms flat letters into sculpted, almost molded, letters by duplicating the stroke and resizing, moving, and changing its colors to create shadows and the illusion of highlights. In the finished font below, you can also see he’s applied a similar treatment to the stars, which he demonstrates with another set of effects in this week’s video. Note the number of effects applied to the multiple strokes in the Appearance panel. These are all just mutated duplicates of the original stroke (in other words, no drawing involved):

Deke's embellished typeface with the Adobe Illustrator Appearance panel


The result, when combined with last week’s Spirograph-style embellishment, is this striking logo that—dare I say—really pops.

The finished type effect placed in the Spirograph-style logo

Deke will be back with another new technique next week!


Interested in more?
• The entire Deke’s Techniques weekly series on
• All Illustrator 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: Rethinking the Essentials

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