Design Challenge Day 7: Making 3D Lettering in Illustrator

Making 3D Lettering in Illustrator

I was looking for a quick and dirty tutorial for my second of the day to get back on track. I found it via a Facebook ad for Adobe Creative Cloud's YouTube channel, featuring their under-a-minute tutorial on how to make 3D lettering in Illustrator. Could I learn something new in just 57 seconds?

The Process

The hardest part of this was probably drawing letters by hand. (Had I been thinking ahead, I would have pulled out my Wacom tablet. I'm going to do that as soon as I'm done with this post!) It's important to use a single stroke for each letter. Once the text is ready, use the ellipse tool to create a circle with no stroke, then add a two-color gradient fill. Duplicate the circle and drag it a short distance away. Double-click the blend tool, choose specific steps for spacing, and set the steps to 200. Select this new blended path and your letter, then use the dropdown Object menu, select Blend Options, and click select Replace Spine. Voilà!

The Presentation

First of all, I really dug how short this was. Most tutorials run fifteen minutes or more, and when I factor in how many times I need to pause and repeat sections to make sure I'm doing something right, it can take me an hour or more to finish one, create a new image, and write up a blog post. HOWEVER. It is nearly impossible for me to do a tutorial that relies on text to instruct me while I am trying to look at another screen and follow along. I watched it once, then rewatched as I went back and forth between the video and my Illustrator window, pausing and making sure I'd caught the steps correctly. I'm sure there's a happy medium between a tutorial that's overly talky and the silent movie version. That said, it was simple, quick, and well-done - I expected nothing less from Adobe!


Hooboy, I really need to work on my skills with the pencil tool! I know that my Wacom tablet will help with this. I am also really intrigued by the way the blended path looks so different on each letter I created; I'm excited to play around with this effect. Don't the letters look like balloons ready to float away? I already want to find a metallic effect tutorial to create Mylar balloons!