Cursive type, whether a script font or hand-lettered, often features elegant swashes and overlapping strokes. One way artists emphasise the curvature of their type is to apply shading, which adds an illusion of depth to the lettering piece. In today’s tutorial I’ll show you how to produce a shaded type effect in Adobe Illustrator. We’ll use a script font as the basis of our typography, then apply a series of gradients to give the impression that the letter strokes interweave and overlap.

How To Create a Shaded Type Effect in Adobe Illustrator

The artwork we’ll be creating in this tutorial features the word ‘Love’ in a bold, flowing script font with the addition of shaded elements that make the strokes of each letter appear as if they loop and overlap, rather than being flat two-dimensional type. Grain filters and dusty textures then used to distress the artwork with more of a low-fi appearance to finish off this grungy shaded type effect.

Create a new document in Adobe Illustrator and set out your desired wording in a script font. The typeface I’m using is one of my favourites, named Monday. Alternatively, if you’re a pro hand-lettering artist, the same effects can be applied to your type after it has been traced.

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  1. can you turn that grain into vector or are you leaving it as a raster element in the final artwork?

  2. Excellent article Chris Spooner!!! I totally agree that you have to put out great content that graphics designer will find valuable on a regular basis. I think you always try to help us by your well written content. Great effort & thanks.

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