In this tutorial, I am going to show you how to take some lettering and create a 3D exploded view text effect.  You will learn how to apply an isometric 3D view to your letters and then pull it apart.

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Step 1: Start by creating a new document and draw out a square shape for your background.  In my example, I have made my background #E5D6BE.

 exploded view text effect

Step 2: Type out your message or letter.  This effect works best with a thick font. In this example I am using a font called Archivo Black, which can be found on font squirrel. CLICK HERE for link.

exploded view text effect

 

Step 3: I changed the color of the letter to a light gray so that you can see how the 3D effect will be applied. You don’t have to, but I like to expand my text at this point (Type > Create Outlines).

 exploded view text effect

Step 4: Go to Effect > 3D > Extrude and Bevel.  Click the Preview button on so you can see the effect.  I am going to leave everything at the default, but change the position in the top drop down to “Isometric Left”.  Click on the “More Options” button and then at the bottom of the screen, click on “draw hidden faces”.  Click OK.

 exploded view text effect

Step 5: Expand the effect (Object > Expand Appearance). Make a copy of your letter and paste in front (Ctrl + F) on a new layer. This will make it easier to dissect without destroying your original letter.

 exploded view text effect

Step 6: Ungroup the 3D lettering bits, we are going to select and move the front, top and side of your letter. I’ve made the parts we are going to move pink, so you can see.  Starting with the top, I select it and while holding down shift, I click and move it up a little bit.

 exploded view text effect

Step 7:  Select one of the sides and do the same.  Shift and drag away from the main letter.

 exploded view text effect

Step 8:  Do the same for the other side.

 exploded view text effect

Step 9: And the front.

 exploded view text effect

Step 10:  Finally, the back.

 exploded view text effect

Step 11:  Select all of the bits you just moved and copy (Ctrl + C) and Paste in front (Ctrl + F) onto your original letter layer. It looks a little confusing right now, but we are going to make some more adjustments.

 exploded view text effect

 

Step 12: First, select your original fully formed letter, which should still be grouped together. Change the fill color to the same as the background # E5D6BE and change the stroke color to a dark brown # 473F3C.

 exploded view text effect

Step 13:  Next, select all of the “exploded” parts of the letter (the pink ones) and remove the fill color and change the stroke to the same dark brown.

 exploded view text effect

Step 14: Double click on the fully formed letter so that you enter isolation mode and select the “face” of the letter.  Change the fill color to the dark brown and remove the stroke.

 exploded view text effect

Step 15: Select the front of the letter that is pulled away from the main letter form.  Set the fill color to the same color as the background and lower the opacity to around 75%.  I also pulled it away from the main letter a little bit more.

 exploded view text effect

Step 16: Take the other bits and move them away from the main letter as needed.

 exploded view text effect

Step 17:  If you want, you can create some dotted lines going from the original letter to the exploded bits.  You should have a set of dashed brushes in the default illustrator brushes (Open Brush Library > Borders_Dashed) .  I have made the stroke red, so you can see the lines easily.  Basically what you want to do is use the pen tool and click on a spot on your main letter, then try to make the second click at around the same spot, but on the back side of the exploded portions.

 exploded view text effect

Step 18: Keep going with the dashed lines and make adjustments to the lines and spacing of the exploded parts as you go.

 exploded view text effect

Step 19: Once you are happy with the dashed lines, change the stroke color to the same brown as the letters. Then, go ahead and select them and expand the stroke (Object > Expand Appearance). 

 exploded view text effect

Step 20: Finally, double click on any of the dashes that are over top of the brown letter “face” and change their color to the same color as the background.

 exploded view text effect

Add some light grunge over the top if you would like and you are done!

exploded view text effect

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