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Cliff/Step Text in Illustrator

Posted on 4th May 2018
For this tutorial, we will use Built Tilting Free Font.

1 - In Illustrator, create a “New Document”.

2 - Select the “Rectangle Tool” (M), draw a rectangle covering your whole document and fill it with a color of your liking.

3 - Lock your “Background” Layer by clicking on the left side of its thumbnail to bring out the small “Padlock” icon. Create a “New Layer” by clicking on the small button at the bottom of the “Layers Panel”.

4 - Select the “Type Tool” (T), choose your font (we used “Built Tilting SemiBold”) and type your text. Use White as “Fill” color.

5 - Right-click on top of your text and choose “Create Outlines”.

6 - Select the “Knife Tool” and draw a line that makes a “Cut” through your text from side to side. The idea is to divide your text in two halves (top and bottom).

7 - In the “Appearance Panel” click on the “Effects Menu”, go to Distort & Transform > Free Distort and move the corners of the image to make it look as its lying somewhat flat on the ground at a slight angle. Once you are happy, click “OK”.

8 - Go to Object > Expand Appearance and then right-click on top of your text and choose “Ungroup”.

9 - Select the parts of text that belong to the “Top” portion (using the “Shift” key) and “Group” them together (Command/Control + G). Do the same with the ones that belong to the bottom, then select it and move it down using the “Arrow” keys or dragging it down while holding the “Shift” key.

10 - Select the “Pen Tool” (P) and draw a line from one side of your document to the other. Make it match the curves of the cut part of your text. Use the “Direct Selection Tool” (A) to select the “Anchor Points” and fix the curves. Then, “Copy” it, “Paste it in Front” (Command/Control + F) and move the copy on top of the bottom part of the text.

11 - Select the left side “Anchor Points” on the Top and Bottom lines and “Join” them together (Command/Control + J). Repeat with the ones on the right side to close the “Path” and create a shape. “Fill” this shape with a “Gradient” that goes from the same color as the “Background” on top to a darker shade on the bottom.

12 - Right-click on top of it and “Ungroup” it, then, use the “Direct Selection Tool” (A) to fix any part of the text and/or shape that don’t match. You can select your text and “Lock” it temporarily (Command/Control +2).

13 - Use the “Pen Tool” (P) to draw some “Paths” that complete the text and make it look like it goes from top part to the bottom. Fix any problem with overlapping with the “Direct Selection Tool” (A). Then, Change the “Blending Mode” to “Soft Light” and lower the “Opacity” to 60%.

14 - Your work should look similar to this:

by @lornacane

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