Letterville Step By Step
One Way to Create Vector Convex Lettering
By Don Coplen
A. Type your letter or letters and convert to curves. Typestyles don't matter much, but I wouldn't suggest a script style.
B. Make a copy of the original letter on top. Lock the bottom (original) letter in place, then change the color of the top (copy) letter to a lighter shade. This will allow you to see the changes as you proceed.
C. Decide what parts of the letter will be dark. Top OR bottom, left side OR right side. Then, select and move nodes of the top/lighter letter to reveal the dark letter underneath. I've chosen left side and top to be dark here. The image above shows this step half done, so that you can see the process better.
D. Once the nodes are moved to your liking, you can then unlock the bottom/darker letter shape. Apply a dark to light gradient to both the bottom and top copies of the letter, but make the gradient going in opposing directions. This will give the further illusion of a 3 dimensional carved letter shape.
E. Optionally, you can apply an outline to the two shapes that now make up the letter. If you select the bottom shape (the shape that had been locked during the process), you can then add an offset shape to the whole of the letter shape.
F. If you want to show off a bit, you can select the two shapes making up the letter, rasterize them (convert them to pixels) and add a texture to the letter.
As a sidenote: with the exception of adding the texture, this technique can be used for plotter cutting as well as printing.
If you were to plotter cut convex lettering, you would need to separate the left from the right side of the letters to plotter cut separately. You can either use one color of vinyl for both, and airbrush a gradient...or use two colors of vinyl. Also, you will require two square or triangle registration marks on the file to ensure proper registration.
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