Posts tagged illustrator

Illustrator Tutorial: Create Your Own Typographic Design

  • Research and Theory

Everybody knows typographic designs are awesome. They’re versatile, useful in both web and print, easily adapted to every need and extremely beautiful when done right. And because it’s so great, this article will serve you as guide and tutorial, so you too can achieve that type treatment greatness. It also shows what our trusted partners from DesignTNT have been working on, TypeZilla: Super Premium Typography Set for Only $32 – which is featured exclusively on Inky Deals.

Breaking Down the Message

Typography, in its basic definition is the art and technique of arranging type in order to make language visible. That means choosing typefaces, leading, line length and kerning in such a way that the message is conveyed in the clearest way possible.

When you illustrate a slogan or saying through typographic means, the message is the building block on which you construct your typographic design. Breaking down this message into its most important parts is the first step you should take before getting to the fun part of choosing the right fonts and decoration.

Finding the keywords you want to highlight in order to stand out more, establishing what conjunction words can be reduced to symbols or incorporated more into the background of the keywords – these are all essential steps in deconstructing the message, so you can illustrate it typographically.

Our example is a holiday cheer: “May your Christmas be bright and merry!”. The important words are (in order of importance): ”Christmas”, ”bright” and ”merry”. These are the words that we want to highlight and make stand out more to the viewer.


In order to do this we need to treat them differently than the other, less important words, by mixing different typefaces together.

Choosing Your Fonts

Before we can illustrate our message, we need to understand some basic concepts of typography and typefaces. Nowadays  the word „font” has become almost synonymous with „typeface”, meaning a set of characters or glyphs that share the same design characteristics. However, in professional  typography, a typeface represents a family of different fonts or variants such as italic, bold, condensed, etc. For example, Myriad Pro is a typeface (or font family) that encompasses all Myriad  fonts such as Myriad Bold, Myriad Italic, etc.


That distinction being made, there are thousands of typefaces already in existence and new ones that are being created every day. They are incredibly diverse in style, approach and use, but we can generally break them down into a few basic style categories:

Serifs: The serif is the small line trailing from the ends of the glyphs. Typefaces with these little lines at the end of their symbols are Serif Typefaces. This category diverges further into various styles of serifs, of which the most important for our tutorial is the Slab Serif. The serifs in this case are rectangular in appearance, as are the glyphs in general.

Sans-serifs: These are pretty straightforward – typefaces that lack the little lines are called Sans-Serif Typefaces.


Other categories include Script, Blackletter and Display.

Mixing Typefaces and Fonts

Mixing typefaces is of key importance in creating typographic designs. The contrast between them will highlight or subdue certain words or parts of the phrase, while making the composition visually appealing. This contrast can be achieved by following a few basic guidelines illustrated below.

Mixing Serifs and Sans-serifs


Using Different Font Weights and Styles


The Rule: Hierarchy is very important when designing typographic elements because it’s closely tied to breaking down  the message into important and less important parts in order to attract the viewer’s attention. Use heavy font weights  for important words, italics or condensed fonts also stand out for secondary parts and regular or light variants for blocks of text of less importance like conjunctions, etc.

When to break it: When creating a typographic design, other decorative elements are often used in the composition (ribbons, decorative lines or shapes). These can improve or just alter the hierarchization of the text – if, for example, you place a word on a ribbon within the block of text, it will stand out from the others no matter the weight or style.

Contrasting Display and Neutral Typefaces


The Rule: Less is more. Try not to use more than two or three typefaces. Of these two or three, one can be a display or decorative typeface, the other a more neutral or subtle typeface. You can still use different weights and styles to create visual diversity, but the limited number will keep the overall look of the composition vaguely uniform.

When to break it: Contrast is a relative concept. If you want a bolder, more striking design, you can always use two or three display fonts if you can establish a hierarchy between them through weight, personality, leading, etc. Though this approach is less about readability and more about aesthetics, it can be useful if done properly.


  • Illustrator Tutorial: Create Your Own Typographic Design

Difficulty: Beginner

Requirements: Adobe Illustrator CS2 or newer

Estimated Completion Time: 20 minutes

After analyzing our message and breaking it down into keywords, the next step is to explore its concept. Because it’s a holiday slogan, we need to find fonts that have a certain personality, nothing too fancy or tough but expressive enough to make it interesting, just like the elements from our TypeZilla: Super Premium Typography Set for Only $32.


Open a new file in Adobe Illustrator and let’s begin. For the most important word, „Christmas”, I chose Homestead, a bold Slab Serif typeface and for the next two, „bright” and “merry”, the typeface Geared Slab. I replaced “and” with an ampersand (this is an ampersand -> &) from the font Haymaker in order to condense the information better and chose two more fonts, Haymaker and Wisdom Script for the rest of the slogan.

Now let’s get some tech stuff involved!


Notice how mixing different typefaces with different personalities and point-size created a visual hierarchy and composition.

Composition: Adding Effects to the Type

While we already have contrast and hierarchy, our typographic design at this point is nothing more than a selection of typefaces mixed together. It’s time to add a little sparkle to make it more interesting.

Select the word „Christmas” and then go to Effects>Warp>Arc Upper, and apply a 7% vertical bend.



Now we have a nice dynamic upper bend to our main word. But the line above it has a straight bottom line so with Effects>Warp>Arc let’s arc it so that it molds to the shape below. Use the same value (7%) for the “Bend” setting and hit OK.


Once again, contrast is essential. If you look at your screen from a distance, we now have two distinct visual areas – the slightly rounded, warped one above and the straight one below separated by the italic script “be” in the center. This creates a nice composition through the contrast I mentioned earlier, both from type and shape.

Adding Decorative Elements

To complete our composition we need to add decorative design elements. Christmas means mistletoe, ribbons and other holiday related elements. Let’s create a ribbon for the top part of our text. We put a basic ribbon shape and arc it just like before to fit with „may your”.



Adjusting the size and placement and adding some circles to decorate already makes it look interesting. Hold ALT+Shift to preserve the centerline alignment.


Next, we need to fill up the empty space adjacent to „be”.  I used a candy-cane inspired line element for this purpose. For tips on how to build your own candy cane brush, check out this design tutorial.


Now our composition seems pretty sturdy but still lacking in context and Christmas cheer so I added top and bottom decorations in the form of zig-zag lines (Effect>Distort & Transform>Zig-Zag) and a small vector mistletoe element at the top for extra Christmas spirit.


Our Christmas type design is almost finished, but now we can see that „Christmas” doesn’t stand out as much as before so to fix this I’ll add a drop-shadow like effect using the expanded word and a horizontal line pattern with a black stroke. Drag a copy of the word aside, expand it (Object>Expand Appearance) and then load the Basic Lines swatch in Illustrator and fill it with one of the simple horizontal line patterns.



Align the stroke to the inside of the expanded shape so that the contour of the word remains exactly the same as the non-expanded version in our existing design.


Next, right-click the shape and click Transform>Scale, make sure to uncheck the Transform Object option and introduce a value of around 20% uniform scaling like in the image below.


Now drag this shape beneath the original word with a slight vertical offset.


Our typographic design element is officially finished! You can add color and texture to it, include it in illustrations or websites, posters or other print materials, coffee mugs and many, many more. Or you can just head over and buy TypeZilla: Super Premium Typography Set for Only $32 and never worry about going through all of these steps.


About the author: Ioana Șopov is an illustrator and graphic designer with over 4 years of experience in her field. She has worked with brands like Vodafone and collaborated with numerous ad agencies like Ogilvy and Cohn&Jansen JWT. Check out her work on Behance and keep in touch on Twitter.

Illustrator Tutorial: How to Create Premium Vector Badges

Have you ever wondered how Inky gets such top quality deals? He has great partners, such as the guys from Design TNT. Actually, due to the fact that their Super Premium Badge Bundle Badgezilla has become so popular, we received many request to show how it was designed. So we thought it would be awesome to give you a little insight into the process of researching and creating this amazing product.

Badges have been around for quite some time now in both digital and print media and they don’t seem to be going “extinct” anytime soon. Since the downfall of the glossy and gradient trends, retro and vintage have settled in the design world and they’re here to stay. Part of the reason behind the omnipresence of badges is their incredible versatility, and this is also the reason they have been used constantly in various ways, long before the Internet even existed.

Many of the elements we see today in the design of badges are rooted in 19th century advertisements. Their “complex simplicity” and visual appeal were widely used to attract attention towards a certain quality of an advertised product. And because of their versatility I mentioned earlier, they were easily translated into the modern design while retaining their retro feel. Badges are used as logos or advertisements, on posters or packaging, in online shops or blogs. Their use is practically unlimited.

We promoted the Super Premium Badge Bundle Badgezilla because although badges are omnipresent, it’s hard to find a set tailored specifically for your needs. And even the good ones come in packs of 5 to10 items, leading you to just buy a dozen packs you’ll barely use. Making them yourself is clearly not an option, that’s the reason you’re looking for templates in the first place. Besides, it takes too much time and effort, and as you know, time spent does not get any refunds.

We searched for all the trends in use of badges, all the categories they are used for – from sales to food and drinks, sports and more –so our product would be the only one you need in order to have a lifetime supply of beautifully designed and useful badges you can customize as you wish.

Needless to say, after acquiring this product you will never have to buy another set of badges EVER. But you’re probably skeptical about this and think this is just another average product, nicely wrapped up with beautiful images, just to please the eye. NO. This is not an average product! Read further and see the entire process a badge goes through before ending into your gallery.

The process of designing a badge for whatever purpose can be broken down into two big sections: typography and shape design. Both have to be carefully considered in order to create a badge that conveys its message with ease.


Choosing what typefaces to use depends on the style or personality of your badge. If you want to go for an all-out retro look, a script or slab-serif font will do wonders. But you don’t have to limit yourself to these, mixing and matching retro and modern fonts can create a very interesting design as well. What you should always keep in mind is visual hierarchy. Choosing a heavier font weight or a larger size for the most important words in your badge will make them pop out. In order for those words to maintain that position, use neutral typefaces for the other words (e.g., for radial texts).


Badges aren’t all about text, else they wouldn’t be badges at all. They come in all shapes and sizes, and most are based on circular designs, but polygonal ones are common as well – pentagon, hexagon, etc. Shield-shaped badges are also trendy, inspired by heraldic design elements. Other elements such as stars, circles and lines are used to complete the typographic part and give them that “something” extra.

Let’s take one of our badge designs and retrace the steps taken to create it.

Difficulty: Beginner

Requirements: Adobe Illustrator CS2 or newer

Estimated Completion Time: 15 minutes

Step 1: Open a new file in Adobe Illustrator. To get to the desired result above we start off with a simple star-shape. You can play around with the number of points and size of the radius, but for this example I used a number of 37 points, and 42pt and 38pt for the radiuses.

Step 2: After we have our basic star-shape, we’ll need another one with a slightly larger inner radius and of a lighter blue color.

You should now have these two basic shapes that you need to align both vertically and horizontally, and bring the first star on top of the second.

Step 3: Afterwards, select the lighter shape underneath and rotate it -5 degrees.

Step 4: The next step is to give our first star-shape a bit of roundness to its points so with it selected go to Effect>Stylize>Rounded Corners and go for value around 2pt. Apply Object>Expand Appearance to it.

Step 5: Create an inner circle with no fill and white 1pt stroke. Align it horizontally & vertically to the two shapes and then copy it to the front(CTRL+C, CTRL+F) and give it a slightly smaller stroke weight (0.5pt).

Step 6: Now let’s add the inner radial text. Create another copy of the smallest circle and select the Type on a Path Tool. With the tool selected, click on the new circle and type in your text.

I used the font Geared Slab, with a size of about 6pts and leading of 100pts, and then rotated the path so that my type covers the upper half of the badge. Open the tool options by double clicking on the icon or by pressing Enter with the tool selected and use these settings so that your text is aligned to its center.

Step 7: Now copy the text and rotate it so that it covers the bottom half. The only problem is that our text is mirrored, so to fix that, open the Type on a Path Options again and check the “Flip” checkbox. Then rotate and adjust the position of both paths with text in order to align them perfectly.

Step 8: Next we need to add the central type, I used Mission Script, to create a contrast between the typefaces used. I also added two white circles at each end to complete the structure of type.

Step 9: Our badge looks pretty good already, but it’s still missing something. Let’s add some little stars above and below our central text.

Resize the star to fit your needs and copy it two times like in the image below. Group them (CTRL+G), copy the group and move the center star below the other two

Step 10: Almost done, now just add two line segments of 0.75 pt above and below “Premium”, for a better definition of the word and we’re done.

You can now use this badge in any way you want, either in web or print. You can change the text to suit your needs or add graphic styles to create an even more detailed badge. Or you can go ahead and get the Super Premium Badge Bundle Badgezilla and never have to do this ever again.

About the author: Ioana Șopov is an illustrator and graphic designer with over 4 years of experience in her field. She has worked with brands like Vodafone and collaborated with numerous ad agencies like Ogilvy and Cohn&Jansen JWT. Check out her work on Behance and keep in touch on Twitter.