In this tutorial, I am going to show you how to create your own abstract shattered glass text effect in Illustrator. We are going to go through how to “break” your text and apply some effects to create the illusion of some broken glass.
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Step 1: Create a new document and draw out a square for your background. The colors used for the background are important as they will dictate the color of our glass shapes as we work. Fill the background object with a Radial gradient with the left color set to #001E29 and the right color set to #00000E. Make sure the lighter color is in the middle of your artboard.
Step 2: Choose your font and type out your message. Try to use a somewhat thick font. The font I am using here is called “Gudea” and can be found on fontsquirrel: https://www.fontsquirrel.com/fonts/gudea
Step 3: Expand your text (Type > Create Outlines). Since I have an “O” in my word, I am going to use it as the “point of impact” for the breaking. I double click on the “O” until I am in isolation mode for just that letter and I select and delete the inside portion of the compound path.
Step 4: Click anywhere outside the artboard to exit isolation mode and draw out a more jagged center for the “O”. Make sure the new shape is a closed path (hit ctrl + J after you draw it out).
Step 5: Make sure your letters are ungrouped, select the jagged shape and the “O” and through the pathfinder, click on “Minus Front”.
Step 6: Now we are going to draw some more lines using the inside of the “O” as a starting point. As you draw, make sure that your lines are going all the way through the letters.
Step 7: There is no magic button for these steps, just make sure your lines are nice and jagged like broken glass. Throw in a few radial lines and just remember as you draw that these lines are where the letters are going to “break”.
Step 8: Once you have your lines all drawn out, select all of the lines, plus your work and in the pathfinder, click on “Divide”.
Step 9: Ungroup everything (Ctrl + Shift + G). Draw out an unstroked, unfilled shape. With it selected, go to Select > Same > Fill & Stroke. This will select all of the extra bits that the “Divide” created. Delete them.
Step 10: Start going through the pieces of your letters. Select the different sections and nudge them away from the main letter form. Lower the size of some of the smaller bits. This step completely depends on your lines.
Step 11: Once you have everything spaced apart, you can add more “breaks” if you want. Just do the same process with the lines and Divide.
Step 12: Select all of the lettering parts and apply a radial gradient to them all. Make the inside of the gradient 100% C,M,Y and K. Make the outer color of the gradient 35% C, M, Y and K.
Step 13: Change the Transparency mode to “Color Dodge” and the Opacity to 35%. Manually adjust the gradients in each of the shapes (some of them will look a little weird). Just grab the Gradient tool (G) and click and drag outwards. I like to adjust them so the dark part of the gradient starts from the outside of the shape.
Step 14: Here we are with all the gradients re-drawn.
Step15: Now we are going to give some of shapes a side. Randomly select a few pieces from each letter, make a copy and paste in front (Ctrl+F) on a new layer above the main layer.
Step 16: Remove the fill color and set the stroke to white. I increased the stroke weight to 2pt and the Variable width profile to #1 (the one with pointed ends).
Step 17: We are going to cut these lines so they don’t go all the way around the shapes. What we are trying to do is give these pieces a more 3D feel like they are tilted a bit. With the Scissor tool (C) click on the line of your shape to make your cuts.
Step 18: Delete the top portion.
Step 19: Do the same for the other shapes.
Step 20: Once you have made all your cuts, select all of the lines and expand them (Object > Expand Appearance). Select the eyedropper tool and click on one of the main shapes to apply the radial gradient to the new strokes. With the strokes still selected, change the right (light gray) color to pure white. Change the Transparency mode to Color Dodge at 100% Opacity.
Step 21: Like before, adjust your gradients. We want to shoot for having just a little bit of white on each line.
Step 22: Make a copy of your main shape layer and move it above all the other layers. Remove the fill color and set the stroke to a light blue (#99CCCC). Lower the stroke weight to around 0.5pt. Change the Transparency mode to Color Dodge with the Opacity around 50%.
Step 23: Draw out a couple of small jagged shapes. Set the fill color to black. To create some scatter brushes, drag each shape (one at a time) over to the brush panel. Select “Scatter Brush” when the window pops up. Set all of the options to random and adjust the sliders. After you create the brush you will likely have to adjust these sliders again, so go ahead and hit OK. Make sure the Colorization Method is set to “Tints”.
Step 24: Create a new layer above all the others and start drawing out a few lines and apply your scatter brush to them. If the scatter is too close, large, etc. Just double click the brush and adjust the sliders.
Step 25: Set the stroke color to #3B7E97 and change the Transparency mode to Multiply at around 60%. Using the different shaped scatter brushes, keep making lines over your text to give it some texture.
Step 26: Create a new layer on top and apply the same scatter brushes, only this time set the stroke color to #A8C4D0 and the Transparency mode to Color Dodge. Lower the Opacity to around 15% for these lines.
Step 27: Draw out a circle. Make a copy of the circle and paste it in front (Ctrl + F). Resize the copied circle so it is about ¼ the size of the full circle. Set both circles to White.
Step 28: Select the large outer circle and lower the Opacity down to 0%. Make the inner circle’s Opacity 50%. With both circles selected, go to Object > Blend > Blend Options. Set the Spacing to Specified Steps and the number to 35. Hit OK. With both circles still selected go to Object > Blend > Make.
Step 29: Set the circle blend’s Transparency to “Overlay”. Resize the blend as needed and make a couple of copies, placing each one over your text. Keep going until you have placed a few blends on each letter.
Step 30: Make a copy of one of the blends and make it larger. Place a couple of these on the letters at the whitest points.
Step 31: Using the same blend options, create a jagged shape. Make a copy and resize slightly smaller than the original. Change the colors to #D9E6ED. Apply the blend. Once the blend is applied, change the Transparency mode to Color Dodge at 15%.
Step 32: Make copies and place this blend over your lightest points from the line gradients you created in step 20.
Step 33: Finally, I take a couple of the light blurs, change the color to #3C7E97 and set the Transparency mode to Multiply at around 60% and place near the darker spots to give some more depth.
Step 34: Keep adjusting by adding more scatter brushes, blurs, etc. until you are happy with it.