How to Create 3D Text in Adobe Illustrator

Have you ever needed to create 3D text, but didn’t want to use the built-in 3D Illustrator effect tool to do it? It can be done very easily.

3D Text create with a few steps in Adobe IllustratorHave you ever needed to create some basic 3D text to give your design a sense of depth, but didn’t want to use the built-in 3D Illustrator effect tool to do it?  3D text is actually very easy to create with a little knowledge of Illustrator’s Object Blend tool.

Just follow the steps below and your text will be popping off the screen or page in no time!

All instructions below are written from the perspective of someone using Adobe Illustrator CS5 on an Apple computer. You may need to adapt these steps slightly to fit the operating system and version of Adobe Illustrator you are using. 

Step 1 – Open a new, blank Illustrator document.

Step 2 – Type some text using the font of your choice and color it black.  Scale it up so that you can see and work with it easily.  I recommend a font that is bold in order to make the 3D effect more pronounced.  I used the Phosphate typeface in my examples.

Step 3 – Select the text and outline it using “Create Outlines” under the “Type” menu option.

Step 4 – After the text has been outlined, copy (⌘-C) and Paste in Front (⌘-F).

Step 5 – Take the text you just pasted and move it up and to the left of the original text.  The distance is up to you.  I prefer to have the two text objects overlapped.

Step 6 – Select the top text object and copy (⌘-C) it.  We’ll use this later, so don’t clear or overwrite your clipboard.

Step 7 – Select both outlined text objects.

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Step 8 – Go to the “Object” menu option and choose “Blend” and then “Blend Options”.

Step 9 – In the “Blend Options” window that appears, choose “Specified Steps” under “Spacing” section and enter “25” in the empty field next to it and click the “OK” button.  This is the number of transition objects that Illustrator will create between the two text objects.Blend Options window in Adobe Illustrator

Step 10 – Go back to to the “Object” menu option and choose “Blend” and then choose “Make”.

Step 11 – Use the Paste in Front (⌘-F) again to place a the copy of the 2nd text object that you copied in Step 6.

Step 12 – Change the color of the text you just pasted white with a black stroke.

You should now have some 3D text!

Click below to view a video which shows the basic steps needed to perform the technique described above.

How to Change the Sidebar Font Size in Mac OS X Mail

UPDATE: The instructions below also work for Mac OS X versions 10.8 (“Mountain Lion”), 10.9 (“Mavericks”) and 10.10 (“Yosemite”).

Don’t like the default size of the font used in the left sidebar of Apple’s Mail application that comes installed as part of Mac OS X?  Me neither.  If you’re like me, you’ve looked high and low through the assorted Apple Mail preferences to be rid of that obnoxiously large font, but to no avail.

Don’t worry, it can be changed. The option to do it, however, is not in a very intuitive place.

Here’s how it can be done.Lion System Preferences - General

System PreferencesStep 1 – In the Finder, open the System Preferences application.  This is the application with the icon with the gears on it.  It can be found in your Dock, your Application folder or in the new Lion Launchpad.

Step 2 – Once you have the System Preferences open, click on the General preferences icon found at the far left of the topmost row of icons.

Step 3  – In the General preferences settings window, find the “Sidebar icon size” label (placement varies depending upon the release of Mac OS X you are using).  There should be a pull-down menu located just to the right it.

Step 4 – Select one of the 3 choices found in that pull-down menu: Small, Medium or Large.

Changing this setting will not only alter the size of the font in the Finder sidebar (as one would expect based upon behaviors from prior versions of the Mac OS), but now it will also change the font and icon sizes in the Lion Mail client sidebar.

Voilà! Problem solved!  Not very intuitive, but that’s how it works.  I hope this helps!

How to Turn off a Macintosh Display with a Keyboard Shortcut

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Have you ever wanted to shut off your integrated Macintosh display (i.e. iMac, MacBook) without putting the computer to sleep? You would think that this handy and easy keyboard short-cut would be more well known to Apple OSX users, but it doesn’t seem to be common knowledge.

Here’s how you do it.  Just press the following 3 keys together at the same time:


If done correctly, the monitor should go dark but the computer itself will remain awake.

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For those of you that missed the procedure, here it is again in slow motion:

(the Control key)  + (the Shift key) + ⏏ (the Eject key)

If you enjoyed this quick Mac Tip and want to learn more cool keyboard shortcuts, check out this link over at for an impressively large lists of other handy Apple Macintosh keyboard shortcuts.

How to Create a Broken Glass Effect in Adobe Illustrator

broken text effect in adobe illustrator
click for larger view

** After reading this article, be sure to check out of video tutorial below! **

Have you ever wanted to create a design where text or some other object had a shattered effect like the appearance of broken glass? Have you ever wondered how it was done? Wonder no more! With a few simple steps, you can recreate this effect yourself in Adobe Illustrator quickly and easily.

(All screenshots are video shown here are from an Apple Macintosh computer running Illustrator CS5.)

Let’s get started:

STEP 1 – Open a new Adobe Illustrator document. This is done by clicking on “File” in the application menu bar and choosing the “New” option in the menu (or just use the keyboard shortcut ⌘N). The settings for the New Document are not important for this example. Choose the settings that you prefer and Click “Ok”.

STEP 2 – Choose your favorite bold font and, using the Type tool, type the word “BROKEN” in your document. Make the font fairly large so that you can easily work with it in the upcoming steps.

STEP 3 – Select your text with the Illustrator Selection Tool (the tool in the upper left of the Tools palette that looks like a black pointer arrow) and convert it to vector art by choosing the “Create Outlines” option found in the menu bar under “Type”.

STEP 4 – Using the Line Segment Tool, create a series of assorted line segment over top of your outline text. These lines will be the “cracks” in your shattered text.

STEP 5 – Open the “Pathfinder” palette found under the “Window” menu bar option.

STEP 6 – Use the Selection Tool to select all of the outlined text AND the line segments created in Step 4.

illustrator pathfinder divide toolSTEP 7 – In the Pathfinder palette, click the “Divide” button found in the “Pathfinders” section of the palette. It is the leftmost button in that row of options.

STEP 8 – Once done, “Ungroup” the artwork by choosing the “Ungroup” option found in the choices available in the “Object” menu bar.

STEP 9 – In order to start separating the pieces of “glass” you’ve just created by dividing your outlined text, you need to be able to see what you’re doing. In the menu bar, select “View” and then “Outline” to see your art in outlined form.

STEP 10 – Using the Selection Tool, click and drag the assorted “pieces” out of place from their original location in order to achieve the desired “shatter” effect. You may want to switch back and forth from “Outline” view to “Preview” in order to see the results.

Congratulations! You’ve just create your first shattered glass text effect in Adobe Illustrator! Now play with your design to give it greatest degree of visual appeal using color and other effects!

Tips & Warnings

  • This technique takes practice. If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again.
  • Once you’ve gained some mastery of this technique, try it on different objects.
  • For an added design twist, try the “Roughen” option on your line segments before you divide your shattered object. “Roughen” is found in the menu bar under “Effect” –>”Stylize”.