This is a typography tutorial for beginner level users of Illustrator. I am using Illustrator CS2.

First, type the text that you want to stylize onto your artboard. Because I am feeling in a superhero kind of mood today, I decided I would play with the word SUPERMAN. In order to make things easier down the road, set the fill color to anything besides black.

Text with no Effects

I want to style my text to appear strong and fast (like Superman), as if I am standing still and it is flying by me. So, in sticking with our mood, I am going to play with my text a little before applying the 3D effect. This step is not necessary to create your 3D text, but it will give it even more perspective.

Go to Object > Envelope Distort > Make with Warp (shown below). The Warp Options dialogue box below shows the settings I used to get my desired look. If you are going for a different look with your text, play around a little. (If you check the Preview box along the right you can click around from Warp to Warp and change your settings while seeing a preview of them without committing to them.)

Step One Screenshots

Here is what my text looks like with the above Warp applied.

Warped Text

Once you have applied the desired Warp, it is time to apply the 3D effects to the text. Go to Effects > 3D > Extrude & Bevel. Listed below are the settings I am using for my text.

Step Two Screenshots

Here is what my text looks like with the above 3D Effect applied.

3D Text

In order to edit and tweak the 3D text, we will need to Expand and Ungroup. First, go to Object > Expand Appearance.

Once the text has been expanded, go to Object > Ungroup to separate the pieces so that we can edit them individually. Note: You may have to repeat the Ungroup steps a few times before all the groups have been separated.

Step Three Screenshot

Select the “front face” of each letter and apply a new fill color/effect using your Color Palette. I chose a linear gradient and used colors that create the look of a reflective surface.

Selected Fronts

Step Four Screenshot

Here is my final 3D SUPERMAN text.

Final 3D Text

The Reverse Effect ~ Let’s go over how to reverse the look of our 3D text, while reviewing some other basic tips and tricks.What we want to do is select all of the gradient “fronts” and make them blue and select the blue drop effect and apply the gradient.The first thing we want to do is save our gradient to the Gradient tab in the Color Palette so that we do not have to build it again when reapplying it to another shape. Select any of the “fronts” so that the gradient is showing as the current selection Fill in your Toolbox as shown below. Next select the Gradient tab in your Color Palette, also shown below. Now simply drag the Fill from you Toolbox into the Gradient Palette.Drag Gradient SwatchTo make our lives easier, we can put the fronts and the drag effect each on its own layer. For a review on how to do this, see my tutorial called “Shortcut to Moving an Object to a New Layer”Now that we have each group on a different layer, we can easily select only the part of the text that we want to work on. First, click on the little circle to the right of the drop effect layer in the Layers Palette to select the entire layer.Separate Into LayersNow click on the new gradient swatch you just placed in the Gradient Palette.

Next, select the fronts layer by clicking the little circle and change the fill to blue or whatever color you were using.

Now you have a reverse version of the 3D text we created above.

Final Reverse

There are all kinds of fun ways to spice up your text. Once you’re done, you’ve got a great looking graphic for promotional items, postcards, or even your website.¬† MAKE IT MORE THAN WORDS…MAKE IT ART!