Adobe Illustrator: Exploiting the Transform Effect

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A traditional signwriter creating a classic layered text effect

Photo : Jaypeg

The Transform Effect in Adobe Illustrator lets you move, scale, flip, rotate and clone the appearance of one of more selected objects (all from a central dialog box).

Using it you can create patterns with paths and text blocks, and handle the whole pattern by making adjustments to the native project.

In this tutorial, I’ll explain you how to create a simple bevelled stroke effect and I’ll show you some curiosities regarding the Transform Effect.

You’ll be surprised by the power of this indispensable tool.

The Transform Effect: what is it?

As I mentioned in the introduction of the article, the Transform Effect is a dynamic effect whose main result is to create patterns of paths or text blocks that can be simply manipulated in a single command, allowing you to make adjustments to the original object.

In this practical example, I’ll guide you step-by-step in the creation of a simple beveled stroke effect. Secondly, we’ll have a look at how to use one of the most important and curious Illustrator’s path wigglers, — the Pucker & Bloat.

Well, that’s the premise, let’s get started.

Step 1: Setting up the text

Open a simple line drawing with a square background which will be our starting point. The first task of this exercise will be using the offset strokes to create a depth effect. We’ll achieve this practical effect dynamically, which is a smarter and better way to work.

It’s very common, indeed – especially among beginner users of Adobe Illustrator – that a good way to create rich multi-layered text with more than one stroke, is the following:

  1. create the text
  2. assign a stroke
  3. make a copy
  4. paste it in front of the original
  5. change its color
  6. reduce the stroke
  7. repeat the same operations over and over until you’ve reached the desired effect.

This is not the ideal (or recommended) way of creating this effect for a number of reasons. Not only is it slow, repetitive and error-prone but, above all, any adjustments you make to the kerning or case, you’ll need to manually repeat to each copy individually.

With this new approach, you have one reference text object, so that any change affects each set of offset strokes. I believe this is a smarter way to work.

The trick is to build up new fill and stroke attributes; so, let’s see how to go on with the creation of this very simple and basic application of stroke effects combined with a text in order to achieve a good result in less time and in a very professional way.

If you don’t have them set, the first thing to do is to get back to default colors. At this point, select font and size, type your message and compose it within your document (I couldn’t propose any other message!). I’ve chosen a very classic font called Myriad Pro (you can find it here: http://www.cufonfonts.com/it/font/492/myriad-pro) and I’ve filled the type with a color of my choice (I think white could be good). I’ve also given it a 1 point stroke.

This image represents the first step of the tutorial where the user select font and size and type his message within the document, choosing a color and setting a 1 point stroke

This image represents the first step of the tutorial where the user select font and size and type his message within the document, choosing a color and setting a 1 point stroke

If you examine the stroke carefully, you’ll see this goes into the type and out of the type, that means into the letters and out of the letters. Why? Simply because the stroke is by default centered on the path outlines for every letter forms.

Step 2: Stroke it

As your second step, open the Stroke panel and change the weight value from 1 to 3 points.

This image represents the text which results after the application of a second stroke with a value of 3 points

This image represents the text which results after the application of a second stroke with a value of 3 points

As you can see, the given result is awful because the stroke is leaking into the letters. The Appearance panel is the simplest way to correct this. All you have to do is to grab the fill and move it on top of the stroke.

This image represents the unfair result given by the stroke leaking into the letters

This image represents the unfair result given by the stroke leaking into the letters

Can you seen the change? Now the effect is surely better. Remember that even for very simple text aligning effect you have to work inside the appearance panel.

Step 3: Time to Transform!

Put the Fill on top because by default the stroke is always on top and, after having the stroke selected, go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform.

The image represents the application of the Transform Effect

The image represents the application of the Transform Effect

The Transform effect is very useful for a great number of purposes. Let’s see how it works changing in the dialog box the values for Horizontal and Vertical, entering for both of them 0.35 points. Moreover, change the value to negative and see what happens: the strokes moved down and to the left. Press Ok in order to apply the effect.

The image represents the changing of the values for Horizontal and Vertical in the Transform dialog box

The image represents the changing of the values for Horizontal and Vertical in the Transform dialog box

Step 4: Layering your strokes

Let’s add another stroke. With the stroke active inside the Appearance panel, click on the Duplicate Selected Item icon (the second from the right) and next select the brand new stroke item you’ve just created. In order to make the difference more visible, you should change the color (I’ve chosen the color #69D2E7 ) and the line weight (which has been doubled and set at 6 points).

The image represents the creation of another stroke and the application of another color and line weight for the stroke

The image represents the creation of another stroke and the application of another color and line weight for the stroke

What happened? There’s a thicker stroke. What now? Double click on Transform and raise the values (I’ve set the value -0.75 both in Horizontal and Vertical) and click Ok to apply the change.

Step 5: Rinse and repeat

Now, repeat the same operation for our third stroke: with this stroke item selected, click on the new icon at the bottom of the Appearance panel. Click on stroke and put the line weight value on 9 points and change the color (after light blue, it’s the turn of green #8A9B0F).

Finally, put on stroke, double click on Transform, and change the value to 3 points.

The image represents the creation of the third and last stroke and the application of another color and line weight for the stroke

The image represents the creation of the third and last stroke and the application of another color and line weight for the stroke

Finished! Do you like this beveled effect to our letters?

I hope so. But this is not the end because it’s time to start the second task of this exercise. With the help of Transform and Pucker & Bloat we’ll see how to develop this simple text into a high-impact graphic design.

Step 5: Pucker up

In the Appearance panel, click the top item Type to make the entire text object active.

Select Effect > Distort & Transform > Pucker & Bloat.

This image represents the application of the Pucker and Bloat effect

This image represents the application of the Pucker and Bloat effect

In dialog box enter a value of -20% and click OK.

This image represents the change of values after the application of the Pucker and Bloat effect

This image represents the change of values after the application of the Pucker and Bloat effect

It is amazing, isn’t it?

And you can apply the effect as many times as you like. But remember that firstly you have to click the Fill item to make it active and then choose the first command in the Effect menu called Apply Pucker & Bloat in order to reapply the last-used effect.

This image represents the final result of the tutorial

This image represents the final result of the tutorial

What you see below is the final result of the tutorial.

Final Result

Final Result

Conclusion

In this article you have seen how simple and powerful is the Transform Effect in Adobe Illustrator and how a correct use can improve the appearance of the every personal and professional project. Give it a try and enjoy yourself by combining this with other effects you already know.

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  • Aankhen

    Very cool effect. Thanks for the tutorial.

    • http://www.audero.it Annarita Tranfici

      Glad to know that you liked it. Thank you!

  • Mohd. Mahabubul ALam

    The Transform Effect in Adobe Illustrator lets you move, scale, flip,
    rotate and clone the appearance of one of more selected objects (all
    from a central dialog box).

    Using it you can create patterns with paths and text blocks, and
    handle the whole pattern by making adjustments to the native project.

    In this tutorial, I’ll explain you how to create a simple bevelled
    stroke effect and I’ll show you some curiosities regarding the Transform
    Effect.

    You’ll be surprised by the power of this as simple as indispensable tool.

    The Transform Effect: what is it?

    As I mentioned in the introduction of the article, the Transform
    Effect is a dynamic effect whose main result is to create patterns of
    paths or text blocks that can be simply manipulated in a single command,
    allowing you to make adjustments to the original object.

    In this practical example, I’ll guide you step by step in the
    creation of a simple beveled stroke effect. Secondly, we’ll have a look
    at how to use one of the most important and curious Illustrator’s path
    wigglers, — the Pucker & Bloat.

    Well, right premises done, let’s get started.

    Step 1: Setting up the text

    Open a simple line drawing and do a background square which will be our starting point.

    The first task of this exercise is using the offset strokes to create a depth effect.

    Basically we’ll achieve this practical effect dynamically, which is a
    smarter and better way to work. It’s very common, indeed – especially
    among the very beginner users of Adobe Illustrator – that a good way to
    create a text with more than one stroke is the following: creating a
    text, assigning a stroke, doing a copy of it, doing a paste in front of
    the same image, change color and reduce the stroke and then repeat the
    same operations over and over again until reaching the desired effect.

    Obviously this is not the right (and recommended) way of creating
    this effect, not only because it is slow, repetitive and imprecise but
    above all because that means that if you make a change to anyone of your
    texts, you’ll have to change all the others of course.

    On the contrary, with this new approach, you have only one centered
    text, so that one change affects the whole set of offset strokes, and
    this appears a smarter way to work.