We’re going to take inspiration from 19th century typography for today’s vintage text effect tutorial. We’ll use Adobe Illustrator to add detailed decorations to a basic word to transform it into a beautiful piece of engraved typography. The process makes use of lots of useful Illustrator techniques, such as offset path, blends and the Pathfinder tool. Follow along to give your text and logos the old west type treatment.

How To Create a Vintage Text Effect in Illustrator

The text effect we’ll be producing in this tutorial takes inspiration from typography of the 1800s. Type would often be given a three dimensional appearance and shading would be produced with detailed lines as part of the engraving process. We can use those characteristics to replicate the effect in vector format, using Illustrator’s powerful tools to manipulate the shape of the letters.

Open up Adobe Illustrator and type out your logo wording in a cool vintage style typeface. I’m using the beautiful Appleton font that I picked up from a recent fonts deal. Give the text a white fill.

Illustrator is most powerful when you’re working with solid shapes. Right click and select Create Outlines to permanently convert the text into paths.

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  1. It works well until I try to intersect and then it says there are no overlapping paths even when both sets are clearly selected. I’ll keep trying to hide everything else to try and get only those objects available.

  2. Lost in “Select both sets then click the Minus Front option from the Pathfinder panel to trim them to size and create an inner shadow effect.”

  3. I am not a beginner in Illustrator at all have been using it professionally for a decade. But when I start with the Appellton font as you describe the cutout inside the E is blown out on the first step of offsetting path, and it gets worse from there …

  4. Hi Chris,

    You made an excellent post on it. Your presentation design is excellent.

    Thanks for sharing !

  5. This is an excellent tutorial, in every detail, the way you explain it is great and much easier to make than what it looks, I think once I follow the steps it will be quite easy to replicate. I wonder if the same effect could be achieved by using only the appearance panel and keep it as an style, it might be a difficult challenge, but I think it can be made with patience.

    • Thank you Marta! Some of the steps could have been done with the Appearance panel, but other effects, especially those that involve the Pathfinder, mean this exact style has to be made manually.

      Here’s an older tutorial that does focus purely on the Appearances panel: http://spoon.graphics/1IJgqnj

  6. Hi Chris! Great tutorial as always, look forward to giving this one a go soon!

  7. Thank you so much !
    I really wish and hope you are earning money as you teach, and share this knowledge, this is very helpful and may God bless you for that!

    followed step by step and got the results, not quite there yet because of the measurements, have to adjust them, but looks great! A step forward for a small designer :)

  8. Hi Chris, I’m really enjoying jumping back into Illustrator – your tutorials are informative and eye-opening. I recently went through your lesson on giving a vector image a print-making effect (turtle picture), which involved a lot of clipping paths if I remember… This tutorial opened up the world of masks for me (I’ve only used them in Photoshop till now). Tell me; are there occasions when you would choose to use the opacity mask over and above a clipping path texture? And why? Thanks again, Fiona

  9. This is just amazing to see the great tutorial.. Each and every step define in a simple way to follow.. No doubt you’r the best in your job chris!!

  10. Thanks, Chris. Very clear instructions, even as a long time user of Illustrator, I can always learn something new.

  11. Hi Chris, I am already skilled to create such stuff but thank you for a detailed tutorial.
    I always learn something new from you.
    Btw nice use of blend.

  12. Hi Chris, this is a very nice tutorial and educational. I hope there are more new tutorials later on because it is very helpful. Perfect!

  13. I am a design student and have been wanting to follow this tutorial since you posted it. Just knocked it out and absolutely love it. I love your work and will be a all access member very soon.

  14. Hi Sir! I could follow your tutorial but in the typeface ‘Texas’ I’m having a problem with letter “e”. In the step after stroking the text then adding another offset path in -2mm to create a new path inside the text, the letter e looks distorted. I’m doing it all over again yet it still looks the same. Oh why so? Thank you!

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