In this tutorial I’ll show you how to create a chalkboard type look all within Adobe Illustrator. I’m sure you’ve been seeing the popularity of chalkboard art all across the Internet so this short tutorial will give you a similar look using Illustrator’s Grain Effect, Inner Glow Effect and Appearance Palette.
- Software: Adobe Illustrator CS5
- Difficulty: Beginner
- Topics: Appearance Palette, Grain Effect, Inner Glow
- Estimated Completion Time: 10 minutes
- Project Files: chalkboard_final.ai (Downloaded 1,834 times)
Create a new Illustrator document sized at 640px wide by 480px high, Color Mode set to RGB and Raster Effects set to Medium (150 ppi).
Time to load up a chalkboard background… A quick Google Image Search unearthed a bunch of good chalkboard images that would make for a perfect background image. Once you’ve got your chalkboard background onto Layer 1, click the small disclosure menu at the top right of the Layers Palette and select the menu item Options for “Layer 1″… Once the Layer Options dialog pops up, rename the layer “Board” and make sure to click the “Lock” option.
Now that you’ve got your “Board” layer, we need to create a layer for the chalk effect. Head back to the Layers Palette, click the small disclosure menu at the top right of the Palette and select New Layer. Name your new layer “Chalk” in the Layer Options dialog and click “OK”.
Now that we’ve got everything setup it’s time to create the chalk effect. First thing we need to do is load up the logo or text you’d like to add the effect to. Note that this effect works best on fonts and logos with varying thick and thin lines. This will give your final result much more character and realism. I have chosen to use a quick logo I created using the font Lavanderia which can be downloaded over at Lost Type Co-op.
The first effect we need to add is Inner Glow. Make sure your Appearance Palette is visible Window > Appearance (Shift + F6). Now set the fill color of your logo to White (R 255, G 255, B 255). Now with the “Fill” layer selected in the Appearance Palette, head up to the Illustrator Menu and select Effect > Stylize > Inner Glow. Within the Inner Glow dialog box set the Mode to Normal, the Opacity to 75%, the Blur to 3.6 px and select the Edge placement. You’re looking to achieve nice solid white in the thicker areas of your logo and some good black shading in the thin areas and on the edges of your logo.
Now to give your logo the rough speckled edge look that you get with real chalk we need to add some Grain. With the “Fill” layer still selected in the Appearance Palette head up to the Illustrator Menu again and select Effect > Texture > Grain. When the Grain dialog box pops up set the Intensity to 65, Contrast to 47 and the Grain Type to Stippled.
Now to remove the black edges from your logo click the small disclosure triangle at the left of the “Fill” within the Appearance Palette. When the Fill attributes open up, click the Opacity setting and change the Blending Mode to Lighten.
Here’s what your final result should look like.
And with a little more love here’s what you can achieve with this effect!
As I mentioned before you may end up with a slightly different result. You may find some of the thin areas in your logo missing just as I’ve highlighted below. If this is the case with your logo, the quickest fix is to adjust the Inner Glow effect Blur setting either down in pixels to thicken lines or up in pixels to bring in the edges and reduce the overall surface area of your logo.
As you’ll notice, by reducing the the Blur from 3.6 px to 3 px I have gained some of my original lines back and the effect still holds its look. This adjustment also helps a lot on text of different sizes. As you can see below I’ve got four type sizes displayed with the Inner Glow Blur setting (red box) that I used to achieve the correct look. Simply put, the larger the area (thicker the lines) the higher in pixels your blur should be and vice versa for smaller areas (thinner lines).
Since we completed the entire tutorial in the Appearance Palette, changes and adjustments are super easy to make at any point of the design. You can also drag-and-drop the finished logo or text into your Graphic Styles Palette to have quick access to the effect for other projects.
Where’s the color?
I’ve had a lot of questions and comments about coloring the chalk within Illustrator. It’s a pretty quick fix, the catch is that this only works with the chalk on a black background. If you need to color the chalk and place it on multiple colored backgrounds then follow the steps I listed below for using Photoshop here http://bit.ly/1kBaZHK.
One to the color… It only takes a few steps to color the chalk you have already created. First head back to Step 7 and instead of setting the Blending Mode to Lighten set it to Darken. Second, add a new fill layer and move it below your original one. Change the color of this layer to your desired chalk color and you should be good to go. See the picture below to see how your Appearance Palette should look when finished.