How to Create a Broken Glass Effect in Adobe Illustrator

broken text effect in adobe illustrator
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** 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”.

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