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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
Step 7: Select one of the sides and do the same. Shift and drag away from the main letter.
Step 8: Do the same for the other side.
Step 9: And the front.
Step 10: Finally, the back.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Step 16: Take the other bits and move them away from the main letter as needed.
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.
Step 18: Keep going with the dashed lines and make adjustments to the lines and spacing of the exploded parts as you go.
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).
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.
Add some light grunge over the top if you would like and you are done!