Skill Level Intermediate
- [Instructor] Welcome to Drawing Vector Graphics Laboratory. When I attended art school I had an airbrushing class. We had to purchase an actual airbrush and a small compressor and you would fill it with ink and create masks using this thin film called frisket and then you would airbrush your design or illustration onto the surface of the illustration board. Now one of the first assignments was to create chrome typography. So in this movie I'm revisiting the same theme several decades later, that kind of ages me there, and we'll do the same thing with greater ease and control inside of Illustrator using vector-based artwork.
So let's jump into this and have some fun. This is fun. It's kind of fun revisiting this type of theme. I haven't done this since art school, so it kind of brought back a lot of goofy memories from art school days. I wanted to do custom typography. When you work in chrome I think big, bold, beefy kind of letterforms work better, because there's a larger surface area to reflect in. Not to say you can't do smaller ones, you can, it's just really the light shines on this type of letterform and I wanted to create something custom here.
So here's some custom letterforms. If we zoom in you can see they're just simple rectangular shapes, anybody can build this. And yes, I used guides to assist in my building. But I isolate guides on their own layer, because they can get embedded, since they're considered objects in Illustrator. So I tend to isolate them on a layer and lock that layer, so that doesn't happen. It's kind of a habit I've gotten into and I turn them off at times, because they shine through all the layers and I don't want that either as I'm working.
So as we move forward, these are all the base letterforms. I'm gonna create an inset. So I have the final typography all worked out here, all fused together, and I'm simply gonna go to Object, Offset Path. And here I wanna do a minus four on the Offset. And I just created an offset of this path. And what we're establishing here is what's gonna end up being the beveled edge of this typeform. So this inside shape is actually the surface that's closest to you and this beveled is actually diagonal down towards the surface of what this type may be sitting on.
So it's this inset that will be the reflective, actually all of it will be reflective, since it's chrome, but the primary top level surface will be the inset we just created. Now how do you go about creating the bevel effect? Well, I'm gonna walk you through that process here. We've gone ahead and just colored the bevel area this green color, so all of these are separate shapes. And what I'm gonna do is I'm gonna turn on this level, because this just shows how I go about creating the beveling.
And we'll do this on one of the shapes. I'll go ahead and turn that off. Actually this is all this is is just outlines by the way, so we'll go ahead and grab the Pen Tool and on the level, the Bevel Building level, we're just gonna zoom in. We can zoom in even further on this, like about that level, and we'll grab the Pen Tool, and I'm gonna click. You wanna make sure to have Smart Guides turned on, Command + U. And hover over an anchor point, click, and then if you hold Shift down it'll isolate it to a 45 degree angle, bring this out, click here, go over here like this, go down 'til you get to this point, click, and this is at a 45 degree angle.
And then you can close it. Then all you have to do is select these anchor points and snap it to that anchor point. And this is all I'm gonna do to go around this side. Now once you have one side, if you go to the next, click, hold Shift, click, click, hold Shift, click, click, and select these two. Tend to drag it off, so I can see where I need to go. Do that. Once you have like a top or bottom or left or right side then it gets a little easier, 'cause then you can just go off of this to create each of the other segments you need for the bevel on the given letterform.
So on this case it's this over here and then I could actually, actually I could just Command + C, Command + V and we go ahead and just flip this using the Reflect Tool. Then I'll just select an anchor point and this is gonna actually work for this side. So let's go ahead and zoom out a little bit. And that's all we've done. And the reason why I did that is this is what's gonna create each of the individual segments.
If I turn on all of them I've done that for all the letterforms, as you see in here. And then all I do at this point is I select, let's say we're doing the T, I select this, and I clone it, Command + C, Command + F, and then I'll select one of the segments and I'll intersect it using Pathfinder, and then I'll repeat this process until I have the whole letter done, like this. Maybe I'll do the left side to here, intersect it, do it again, do the bottom side of this T, intersect it, do the left side of the bottom part of the T, select this, intersect it.
And that's all I'm gonna do until when it's all said and done I have all the segments of all the letterforms created. And when I say segments that's exactly what I mean. All of these are separate pieces. I could pull them apart, like this. And this is gonna allow us to color each one of these. And so that's what we're gonna be coloring as we move forward here. Now before we do this, we want to address the surface, 'cause there's some information we need to work into our design to make it more believable in being chrome.
So this blue represents the surface and we need to create what's called a horizon line. I'm gonna focus on creating what I would consider a stereotypical chrome typography design, meaning it's replicating what reflects in chrome. Chrome reflects anything it's around, maybe it's a car and it has chrome on it and it's parked by a red building. That building's gonna reflect in it. Depending on how big the surface area is it'll reflect the building, it'll reflect anything, kind of like a mirrored surface.
In this case, this chrome lettering is reflecting the landscape around it. And in this case that landscape is gonna be a horizon line with a mountain range kind of off in the distance and a few hills. And we're gonna take this, take the background surface and we're gonna just minus front from it using Pathfinder, so what we end up with is the top edge, which is gonna serve as the sky. If we go to Appearance, it's gonna be a Group, so you'll wanna make sure that's a compound, but this is gonna serve the purpose of representing the sky, the blue part of the surface will represent the ground.
And that's what we're gonna use to guide our color efforts. So now we can go to our final base piece of artwork and the only difference between this and the previous one I just showed you is if you zoom in on some of these, let's say it's the U, I've gone in and added these rounds. So as it gets to the edge it rounds up. As it gets to the edge it rounds up. And this is gonna help with that chrome illusion. Instead of being distinctly sharp when it gets to the edge it actually rounds as if there's volume to that transition to the surface down into the side.
So this is what we're gonna use and what's gonna guide our coloring efforts is gonna be this thematic color scheme. The top represents the sky, so we have a tonal family for that going from a dark hue of blue, medium hue of blue, to a lighter color of blue. And down at the bottom we also will have ground represented by this darker brown, an orange midtone, and this yellowish, a kinda muted yellow to work as the ground color.
So with this in place we can start coloring. So we're gonna focus specifically on the U as shown here. So we'll zoom into the U and this is the one we're gonna be coloring. Now to assist us in coloring and the reason why we're gonna use this is because as we color everything else we're gonna reuse a lot of the gradients we've created. So I'm gonna open up the Graphic Styles panel and you're gonna pull it out here and you're gonna see a lot of colors that are showcased on this.
And this is a good thing, 'cause this is gonna assist in our efforts to colorize our artwork here and make it a whole lot easier. So the first thing we wanna do is we wanna start coloring the sky color. So we can select this shape that represents the sky color and we have a coloring that's gonna work for that and it's right here. So I'm gonna click on that and it's gonna apply that sky color now if we open up the Gradient panel here you can see it's going from our dark hue of blue to the medium tone of blue to the light color of blue and down to white.
And then if we click on our Gradient Tool let's go, 'cause it's gonna put it in, let's zoom out and pull this down, it's gonna put the Gradient Tool, if we zoom in on this and then click the Gradient Tool, this determines the placement and orientation of that gradation in respect to the shape we've applied it to. So it shows the dark blue is just above the edge and the bottom is just not all the way to the bottom, but close to the bottom.
And it's doing that blend from the dark blue to the medium to the light and then out to white and that's creating the illusion of the sky. If you look at a sky and you move up towards the heavenlies or up towards the edge of the atmosphere it's a lot darker in value. As you get closer to the horizon line moving down the color gets subdued and it starts to gray out the further in the distance it is. And that's kind of the look and feel we're kind of mimicking as we create here.
So let's go ahead and zoom back into the U and we'll start fleshing out the rest of this. The next part is the bottom part, which is the ground, and we also have that kind of prefabricated to assist us. We have the brown here and we're blending that from the dark brown color that we have in our tonal family to that mid range orange, because that's gonna mix well with the brown into the kind of muted yellow color, as shown here in the Gradients palette.
And then we even have at the very end, this is the 100% value of our muted yellow is showing here in the Color panel, but if I click on this one it's that same yellow, we've just diminished it to 30% tint of that yellow. So it doesn't go to white in this case, we wanna keep some of that value in there. So we have the sky, we have the ground, now all we have to do is create some of the secondary shading elements.
And the first one we're gonna do is the top here. And the top is gonna utilize the shading right here, and we'll click that, you can see how it applies there. And there's a lot of artistic license that can take place here. We've chosen to do it this way. Because this one is the same we can reuse the same one. And this is what I'm talking about, once you create one you can replicate it and use it for other ones. So we're gonna go down the right side now and on this one we're gonna apply a different gradient we created, which is this one.
And we'll click on it. And if we go to the Gradients palette you can see it gets pretty complex, because we're reflecting both the ground at the bottom, goes from brown, orange, into the yellow, into white, and then it transitions to the light blue, medium blue, and dark blue. And when applied to that shape it aligns with our color palette on the surface and it starts to give us that illusion we want. Now once again, because we've created it once we can just apply the graphic style to the other shape on the other side as well.
I don't like using the exact same reflection on either side, I like changing it up a little. So like on the left hand side here I'm gonna change this and use a slightly different variation on that. And then when, because this one kind of comes down to a corner, we created a different gradient for this, because it wouldn't work using this one, because this is actually a wider shape. Even though it's thin on the left, the total shape overall is a wider shape.
So that's not gonna work. So we had to create a different gradient for that and that gradient is this one, so we can apply that. And if we go to the orientation or the Gradient Tool here you can see how that's applied and you can see the colors shown over here. So you can see the left side of the U is already complete and the last part we have is the bottom part of the right side of the U and this is gonna be another coloring and it'll be this one right here. And we'll color it and you can see how that applies to that shape and now we have all the elements for the chrome look and feel in this.
And I think this is gonna work really great. So if we zoom out let's go ahead and diminish our Graphic Styles panel just for a second here. And I wanna go ahead and show you how we fleshed out this methodology to all the letterforms. So we're gonna go up here and I'm gonna go ahead and turn this off and we can turn the bottom layer off here. And we're gonna go up the type here with our chrome type and turn it on.
You can see how well it's looking so far. I think this is looking really, really cool actually. And as I was working on this, and it always helps to set something aside and come back to it later, 'cause you never know what you're gonna miss. Chrome looks okay on white, but it's gonna look even better on a dark background. Does this not look even better? It looks absolutely cool. But one thing I realized, something was bugging me and it wasn't actually 'til I had gone to bed the night I was working on this and I thought, oh, that's what I forgot to do, I need to add that.
So what I'm gonna do is we're gonna add something here and I'm calling it for lack of a better term, this is just a term I came up, is a bevel reflection. Yes, if we zoom in on one of these, let's zoom in on this area, we have the bevel and it's kind of reflecting with the gradients applied to it, but if I turn this layer on we're mimicking the reflection of the horizon line around the edge of the bevel. And the nice thing about this is we don't have to recreate the wheel all the time.
So if I take this one and I clone it, Command + C, Command + F to make a copy, and I just drag this over and snap it into shape on this one we now have everything we need on that. And so adding that one little detail to this design really gave better volume to the overall chrome type. I think this is looking really good and it's gonna only improve moving forward. And one thing that's gonna improve it is adding a subtle glow around the letterforms.
So if I lock those layer and turn on this layer you can see I've added this outline to it. So if I drag + select that and move it up you can see all it is is just a fill with a fat outline. And what we're gonna do is we're gonna apply a Gaussian Blur to this, because it's gonna make it look a lot better. So we're gonna go up to Effect, pull down to Blur, Gaussian Blur, and on this one we're gonna do, let's see, 24 will do, and we'll apply it.
And that looks really, really nice. But I think it could look even better adding some more glow. So we have another glow that we're gonna apply on top of that underneath the, a hot glow, underneath the chrome type. And that looks really cool, like it's more off in the distance kind of rushing towards you. And all this is is white and it's a radial gradient going from white to the base color blue, but that base color is set to a zero opacity and it works really well.
And it has, once again, if we select this, it has the Gaussian Blur applied to it. So that's how I created that. Now as we move forward this looks great, I think it could look even better, so what I wanna do is add a glow to the horizon line behind the mountains within the type itself. Because we're seeing what you can't see in the scene, because technically it's behind us. So we're gonna add that little glow just to add on the mountain range I think adds a nice little touch there.
And now the next think I wanna do is I wanna add some edge highlights. Where it gets to the edge is actually where a highlight's gonna hit, so adding an edge highlight is gonna work really well. So let's go and zoom in on this, so you can see what this is all about. So that white perimeter adds to it. Now the next thing I wanna do is I wanna add what's called a hot spot. And so I'm gonna turn this layer on. And this is very easy. We're just gonna take this shape and I've kind of cheated once again.
Let's go to our Graphic Styles. And I'm gonna apply this Graphic Style, it's a radial gradient going from white out to zero alpha white, then I'm gonna select this and apply another radial gradient going from white out to zero alpha white. And this creates this little kind of sparkle, hot spot. And we're gonna take this, size it down, and apply those at various points where the light's hitting and then it's creating this sparkle. As much as I like that, I like this next trick even more.
And it's using the same methodology of the subtle Gaussian Blur on simple shapes and it's to create gleams, as if the light is gleaming off of areas of this design. So if I zoom in on the U here you can see one of the gleams. And once again, all this is is just a simple white circle with a Gaussian Blur applied to it. So if we go to Gaussian Blur that's all it is. It doesn't even have a radial gradient or anything on it, it's just simply a Gaussian Blur applied to it.
So that's gonna work really well. Now moving forward, if we zoom out this design is looking really well, but I wouldn't be honest to myself if I didn't add one more touch in that and that is an awesome 1980s grid. That's gonna look really cool. And in this respect we're gonna add some secondary type to give it context. What is this? Well, let's say it's a time travel app made easy for the iPhone. I wish, that would be really cool.
But once you have everything created like this I wanna take a look really quickly at the Swatches. Notice all of these right corners down here. If I double-click into any of these that means these are global colors. Meaning if I change this it'll universally change throughout a file, so it's very easy when you get a chrome effect like this to go into your global colors, shift them, and by doing so you can change the whole look, the whole feel, the whole theme of your artwork by color shifting it like this.
And in this case, getting a whole 'nother iteration that's more kind of, kind of more of an 80s vibe, since it's monotone here. But it looks equally as cool. So chrome has made a comeback lately. I still think it's a fad, like it was in the 1980s, but that doesn't mean it isn't fun to work with, because it is. So see what type of reflected looks you can create with this methodology. I look forward to seeing what you come up with. Thank you for watching DVG Lab and until next time stay totally awesome, dude.
Q: Why can't I earn a Certificate of Completion for this course?
A: We publish a new tutorial or tutorials for this course on a regular basis. We are unable to offer a Certificate of Completion because it is an ever-evolving course that is not designed to be completed. Check back often for new movies.