I’m Satou, a Web/App/UI designer.
I’m going to write about How to design with editable text in Adobe Illustrator.
The latest Illustrator can design without outlining text
Back in the day, the only designs that could be applied to text in Adobe Illustrator were fill color (monochromatic) and line color (monochromatic).
In order to apply designs such as gradients, patterns, clipping masks, and transformations, the text had to be outlined (command + shift + O).
Now you can apply various designs to editable text without having to outline the text.
Newcomers to Illustrator, as well as old designers like myself who continue to use Illustrator with the old common sense, are likely to be unaware of the new common sense, so if you are not familiar with what I am about to introduce here, please take advantage of it.
“Appearance” to add design to text
To add designs to text, use the “Appearance” feature.
Appearance is not just a feature for text; it is a general feature that can be used for any other object, but we will focus on text in this article.
What “Appearance” can do
Appearance allows you to apply multiple fills, lines, and effects (such as transformations and blurring) on top of one object.
The image is that the effects are layered on top of each other in a layer-like fashion.
So, for example, if you put paint on top of paint, the paint underneath will be invisible, and if you put lines of the same thickness on top of each other, the lines underneath will be invisible.
In such cases, the design can be layered by using transparency, overlay effects, or by shifting the coordinates of the lines.
You can design to some extent without using “Appearance,” but there are limitations
You can create a certain amount of design in text without using Appearance.
You can use a single color for fill and line, pattern swatches, and clipping masks.
You can, but that’s as far as it goes.
For example, if you want to add lines only outside of text, you can’t do that without using Appearance, and if you want to add lines to text with a clipping mask applied, you can’t do that without using Appearance.
Also, designs such as applying gradients to text fill or lines, or double or triple borders, cannot be achieved without appearance.
[Practice] Adding lines only on the outside
The first thing to remember as a premise is that text cannot change the “line position”.
Therefore, we use appearance to make it look like the line is only on the outside by layering a fill layer on top of the line layer and hiding the inside of the line with the fill.
Prepare the text
First, prepare the text you want to design with appearance.
Lines are not necessary.
The fill color can be any color, as it will be set later in the appearance.
In this example, we have prepared text with a black fill.
Open the Appearance palette.
Then select the text and open the Appearance palette.
Add fill with Appearance.
From here we will set the fill and line for the text, but this time let’s start with the fill.
This can be done from either side.
If you want to start with lines, you can start with lines.
Changing the color of a fill
The fill appearance can of course be changed to any color.
Clicking on a fill color chip opens a color palette where you can apply different swatches.
You can also shift + click on a color chip to open the color slider and set the color freely.
Set the lines
Next, set the color and thickness of the lines.
Move the lines under the fill
If you look at the overlap order of the appearance, the lines are above the fill.
So we will reverse the overlap order.
Either drag the line and bring it below the fill, or drag the fill and bring it above the line.
This completes the design with lines only outside of the text.
Line options can also be applied
Did you notice that the “Lines” in the Appearance palette has an underlined dotted line?
This means it is “clickable.
Clicking on it opens the Line Options palette, where you can set options other than “Line Position”.
If the “text” is above the appearance, the appearance is hidden.
Appearance is layered on top of the original text as a layer to achieve its effect.
The original text is the layer that is “text” in the Appearance palette.
When applying a design with an appearance, the appearance of the design must be placed above this “text”.
If the “text” comes above the appearance, the appearance will be hidden by the original text, and you will end up panicking and saying, “The appearance doesn’t work! and you will be upset.
I set the appearance, but it doesn’t work! If you find that the appearance is not working, please check the overlapping order of the appearance and the text.
[Practice] Adding more lines
As an application, you can add more lines with different thicknesses to create a design with multiple lines.
The thickness of the line becomes thicker as the layer goes down.
The layers of lines overlap like a pyramid.
[Practical] Applying a gradient to text fill
If you try to apply a gradient to the text fill as usual, you will not be able to apply it.
So, we will use the appearance to apply a gradient to the text fill.
Applying a gradient to the appearance “fill”
Once you have the text you want to apply the gradient to, select the text, open the Appearance, and add a fill.
Then apply the gradient to the fill.
You can apply a gradient swatch, or you can set the gradient directly on the fill’s appearance.
Applying a gradient swatch to the “fill” appearance
Set gradient directly against the fill
[Practice] Applying a gradient to lines of text
If you try to apply a gradient to a text line normally, you will not be able to apply it.
So, we will use the appearance to apply a gradient to the text line.
Applying a gradient to the appearance “line”
Once you have the text you want to apply the gradient to, select the text, open the Appearance, and add a line.
Then apply the gradient to the line.
You can apply a gradient swatch, or you can set the gradient directly on the line’s appearance.
[Practice] Setting lines on clipping-masked text.
If you create a clipping mask normally with text that has lines set, the lines will disappear and be lost.
So we add a line to the clipping-masked text using Appearance.
Select text, open Appearance, and add a line
If you select with the selection tool (black cursor), the line will not be reflected
Be careful when using clipping mask
Appearance cannot be layered on text to which a clipping mask has been applied.
Also, “fill” cannot be added (it is ignored), so you cannot add lines only to the outside of the text.
If you want to add overlapping lines to text to which a clipping mask has been applied, you must copy and stack the text, apply the clipping mask to the text on top, and add lines to the text on the bottom.
Okay, this is getting a bit long, so I’ll leave it at that for now.
In this article, I wrote about how to design with editable text in Adobe Illustrator.
How was it?
I hope it was helpful to you.
See you next time.