Create A Painted Text Effect In Illustrator


T Adobe Illustrator allows you to add extra fills and strokes to objects. We’re going to take advantage of that now to create the impression of text painted in watercolor. The best part about this is that the text is still editable after the effect is applied. Let’s get started.

1. In Illustrator, create a new document and add some text. I’m using the serif font Goudy Old Style. It doesn’t matter what color you choose at this point because we’ll be turning the color off in a few steps. It’s actually the color of the stroke that we’re going to add that makes the difference.


2. Select the text using the Selection tool (Black arrow). Then open the Appearance Palette (Shift + F6).

3. On the Appearance Palette pop-up menu, choose Add New Stroke. Although we can give text a stroke color using the color picker on the toolbar, in order for this effect to work we need to add a stroke using the Appearance palette.


4. Open the Brushes Palette and from the palette menu choose Open Brush Library > Artistic > Artistic Watercolor.


The Artistic Watercolor brushes open in a separate palette.

5.  Make sure that the new stroke is still selected in the Appearance palette, then click on Water Color Stroke 1 in the brushes palette.


6. Once again, on the Appearance palette, choose Add New Stroke from the palette menu.

7. With the new stroke selected in the Appearance palette, choose Water Color Blend from the brushes palette.


It’s starting to look nice and messy and hand painted. Now we need to hide our original text.

8. Double-click on the text to select it all. Then on the color picker on the toolbar, set the fill color of the text to none. You should get a result something like this.


9. If you want to change the color of the text, first make sure the text is selected with the Selection Tool. Then click once on the stroke in the Appearance palette and then change the color using Swatches or the Color palette. Here I’ve used two different greens.


And that’s it. As I mentioned at the start, the really cool thing about this is that the text is still editable, so you can change what you already have or add more text with the same appearance.


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  • joaquin_win

    Aside from the cool effect, I didn’t know Illustrator allowed to add new strokes to an object. Nice!

  • Nicola Connolly

    Lovely effect! I hadn’t realised you could add more than one stroke to text in Illustrator (as I’ve never used the appearance tab in this way). Thanks for sharing Jennifer, it’s always good to pick up new tricks like this, the possibilities are endless :)

  • Sigurdur Armannsson

    Nice touch!

  • ATPWebmaster

    Excellent tip. And so very easy. Thanks for sharing.

  • calvert1977

    Cool Effect, for certain sites this will work well. We may try something similar on the re-design of our new website Web Designers – Boxmodel Design site.