Adobe Illustrator’s Appearance panel offers mapmakers a visual effects laboratory that can turn a staid map title into exciting custom type.
My current project is a map of Downtown Charleston, South Carolina. Charleston melds beauty and history and so I designed a map title that looks antique-ish and elegant.
I started by selecting a font named Sexsmith (http://www.dafont.com/sexsmith.font). There’s a fun feel to the way the font plays with the letters of “Charleston.” The tall ascenders in the name lend themselves to the font’s tall and slender type design.
After setting the type for Charleston, I selected the name with the Selection tool (I usually hide the selection by pressing the Cmd/Ctrl-H keys). Next, I opened the Appearance panel and chose Add New Stroke from the panel menu. I dragged the new stroke below the existing Fill in the panel so the color effects I was about to create would not overlap the type and make the characters look thinner. Finally, I gave the Fill a black color.
Now I was ready to experiment.
First, I changed the Stroke color to orange. With the Stroke still selected, I clicked the Add New Effect icon (looks like an “fx”) at the bottom of the Appearance panel and chose Artistic > Color Pencil. In the Colored Pencil dialog, I tried different values for the Pencil Width, selected 4, and clicked OK. The Color Pencil effect is textured, giving the edges of the letters a rough, rusty look.
To give the type a slight 3D appearance, I selected Add New Effect again. This time I chose Distort & Transform > Transform. In the Transform dialog, I adjusted the Move values for Horizontal and Vertical to offset the orange stroke down and to the right of the black fill of the lettering.
To finish the type, I wanted to add a white vignette behind the lettering that would disturb the otherwise smooth, solid blue of the water area on the map. To do this, I selected Add New Effect and chose Stylize > Outer Glow. I kept the default values and clicked OK.
When I was done, the Appearance panel contained all of the visual effects added to the lettering. The effects remain “live;” to edit them, I simply click on any of the effects in the Appearance panel to bring up the appropriate dialog box with the values I can change.
I decided to add one more element to the title. Opening Illustrator’s Symbols panel, I clicked the panel menu and selected Open Symbol Library > Florid Vector Pack (this library of symbols ships with Illustrator CS6). I clicked on symbol 04 to load the symbol into the Symbols panel. I dragged the symbol onto the artboard and chose Object > Arrange > Send to Back to place the symbol behind the title lettering. With the symbol selected, I clicked the Transparency panel and used the Blending Mode of Screen to fade the symbol into the blue water background.
Discover more ways of utilizing Adobe Illustrator for custom visual effects. Check out the Adobe Illustrator Wow! Book from Peachpit Press.
Article copyright © 2013 by Cartagram, LLC