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Creating Editable Letterpress Styled Text Tutorials | August 5th, 2009

A popular typography trend in web design and print design is letterpress styled text. This text styling is easy to do in Photoshop, but in Illustrator, it is super simple to create letterpress styled text while keeping the text editable. Utilizing the Appearance panel and Graphic Styles, you can quickly and consistently apply this style to any editable text and other vector objects.

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Final Image Below is the final text treatment we will be working towards.

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Tutorial Details Program: Adobe Illustrator CS4 Difficulty: Beginner Estimated Completion Time: 5-10 minutes

Step 1 Create a rectangle with the Rectangle tool (M) and fill it with a color of your choosing. I filled mine with a light blue color. I like having a background color on which the text can be placed to really see the highlights of the letterpress text. Still, you can create this tutorial on a white background.

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Step 2 Type out some text with the Text tool (T) and chose a font. I am using the awesome Museo Sans 700 font. With the text still selected, take off any fill or stroke.

Step 3 From the pop-up menu of the Appearance panel, choose New Fill. Next, press the swatch thumbnail in

the Appearance panel of the new fill and change the color to a darker shade of your background color.

Step 4 With the new fill selected in the Appearance panel, go Effect > Stylize > Inner Glow. In the Inner Glow dialog, change the Mode to Normal, the fill color (the swatch thumbnail to the direct right of the Mode drop-down menu) to a color slightly darker than your background color, the Opacity to 90 and the Blur to 2 px. You might have to play around with the Blur value depending on how big your text is. Now when

you press the drop-down arrow of the new fill in the Appearance panel you can see the Inner Glow effect listed under it.

Step 5 With the text still selected create a new fill from the Appearance panel like you did before. After you created the new fill it will look like the Inner Glow effect you applied was lost, but it wasn’t. In the Appearance panel we have to be aware of hierarchy. When we created the latest new fill it was placed on top of the first fill. Rearrange the fills by dragging the newest fill below the first one in the Appearance panel.

Step 6 Select the latest new fill in the Apperance panel and change the fill to a darker color than your original text fill color. You won’t be able to see any change because the new fill is behind the first one.

Step 7 With the latest new fill selected, go Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. In the Transform Effect dialog, change the Vertical Move to 1 px. This might need to be increase depending on the size of your text.

Step 8 Create a new fill from the Appearance panel like before and fill it with white. Place the new fill below all

the other fills.

Step 9 With the white fill selected in the Apperance panel, go Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. In the Transform Effect dialog, change the Vertical Move to -1 px. Again, this might need to be increased depending on the size of your text.

Step 10

All done! That was pretty easy. Moreover, your text is still editable! To make this technique more useful, we can create a Graphic Style. Select the text and press the New Graphic Style button in the Graphic Style panel. Now you can apply to Graphic Style to other fonts and even to other shapes and objects. Simply select some text or other vector paths and click the thumbnail of the graphic Style you just created.

136 Responses to “Creating Editable Letterpress Styled Text�

August 5, 2009 at 9:53 am

Glad to see another tut from you on this site! coming. Reply


January 13, 2011 at 10:08 am

your hot Reply


August 5, 2009 at 10:25 am

I use this effect in photoshop all the time. Great to see it in illustrator. Reply

Ryan O. Hicks

August 5, 2009 at 11:02 am

Ooh, this is terrific. Reply


August 5, 2009 at 11:30 am

so fresh and so clean clean Reply


Please keep them

August 5, 2009 at 12:28 pm

More Than Love It! Reply

Tuts King

August 5, 2009 at 1:03 pm

Great technique, thanks for sharing! Reply

Jeff Deibel

August 5, 2009 at 5:52 pm

Thanks for this tutorial [IMG][/IMG] Reply


August 5, 2009 at 7:27 pm

Great effect. You do good work! Reply


August 5, 2009 at 9:37 pm

Finally a letterpress tut for Ai. Thank you. Reply


August 6, 2009 at 1:34 am

nice typo tut. thanks!! Reply


August 6, 2009 at 2:15 am

Brilliant! Just what I was after. Reply


August 6, 2009 at 5:22 am

Very good – this will help in future projects! Reply

Theo Hodkin

August 6, 2009 at 5:36 am

Hi Ryan perfect tutorial love the result of text could you please tell me the name of the second font you used in the final preview image thanks Reply


August 6, 2009 at 6:28 am

Thanks! The font is Susa. Reply


August 6, 2009 at 8:25 am

Great Tutorial ! Will help me in a new projects !!! Reply

Tiago Allen

August 6, 2009 at 9:16 am

great tutorial! i was wondering how to do this in AI.. Reply


August 6, 2009 at 12:08 pm

really amazing tutorial there ryan. Reply


August 8, 2009 at 12:13 pm

Nice Tutorial. Thank you for posting it. Reply


August 10, 2009 at 4:37 am

Great tip, love the quality of the tutorials on this site always excellent. Reply


August 10, 2009 at 9:14 am

Great tutorial and a nice simple effect which looks good. This will be good for me to learn use for new project. Thanks for sharing. Reply

Oliver Web

August 11, 2009 at 12:44 am

Amazing tutorial, i like the final result….so simple. i’ll be waiting for next tuts… Reply


August 11, 2009 at 3:07 am

awesome awesome awesome , you are great ! Reply


August 11, 2009 at 6:31 pm

I know I can try to see if I can, but I’ll ask anyway. Can I use this in Adobe Illustrator CS2? I still haven’t upgraded to CS4 unfortunately. Reply


August 12, 2009 at 6:02 am

I’m not sure. I think you should be able to apply the effects to the text, but I don’t think the Appearance panel will look the same. Reply


August 11, 2009 at 11:31 pm

Brilliant use of the appearance palette and transform effect Ryan! Great Work! Reply


August 13, 2009 at 9:55 pm

thanks for ai tutorial letterpress – i tried to create one by following your tutorial, but I still couldn’t create letterpress — all white, dark and original colors are piled up using stylize>transform. I don’t know where I went wrong

I am newbie at Illustrator

Josephine Reply

August 14, 2009 at 5:39 am

Are you using CS4? What step did it start getting messed up? Reply


November 25, 2009 at 10:29 pm

Hi Rype, I got the same problem,it messed up at step 7. Reply


August 23, 2009 at 6:26 am

Hi Josephine You have to select Illustrator Effects instead of Photoshop Effects (both in Illustrator panel) Reply


August 14, 2009 at 8:26 am

Fab tut! Reply


August 15, 2009 at 9:04 am

Lovely effect, never knew what it was called until I saw this tutorial. Reply

David Bolton

August 19, 2009 at 2:33 pm

AWESOME TUTORIAL! I have been dieing to find a letterpress look in Illustrator and you have done it. I can’t wait to use this on a project. Great job! Reply

Brooke Rochon

August 19, 2009 at 8:20 pm

Hey man! what a great tutorial!!, this is the first tutorial that I follow from you, Thanks is really helpful. Reply


August 22, 2009 at 4:40 pm

Absolutely gourgeous!!! You have such a nice touch! Thank you very much Out of curiosity what are the fonts you used in the last image?

Peter Breis


August 23, 2009 at 11:16 am

Museo Sans, Susa, and Klavika Condensed Reply


August 23, 2009 at 5:24 am

Hi… Many thanks for this tutorial and all the others actually. Very good explainations as compared with many tuto makers who


simply don’t bother to give half the path through it. “dropping hint IN” Ej: “dropping hint OUT” What s more, the design of your page is great (I mean it and I ll copy paste it to make my own … just kiding) One thing about this tutorial. In CS3 at least, when you start giving glowing effects, people may get wrong if instead of using Illustrator effects, they use Photoshop ones (I did it … I m a beginner). Best regards Reply

August 26, 2009 at 8:10 pm

As an absolute beginner to Illustrator, I’d like to say that this tutorial was very easy to follow. I have experience in Photoshop but I found Illustrator weird and confusing, and this tutorial did introduce me to some new techniques. Certainly very different to how it’s done in


Photoshop anyway. Thanks. Reply

August 31, 2009 at 9:51 am

I tried! but my effect wasn’t that awesome though. ): Reply


September 3, 2009 at 5:15 am

Pretty, but not letterpress. Letterpress has always regarded overimpression as poor-quality printing because it ruins the other side of the sheet. The ideal is called a ‘kiss’. It can be only barely felt, and only barely seen.


Maybe you could call it ‘sunken’ or ‘embossed’ text instead? Reply

September 3, 2009 at 5:28 am

I realize it is not true “Letterpress”, after all it is digital artwork. I’ve seen it described as such, and although it is not the technical term, I think it is a fair way of describing the effect even though it is not directly describing the printing technique. It is pressed letters, right?


Still, it might just create unneeded confusion. Some might get confused when talking about the “look” of Letterpress in digital art compared to the printing effect. So you might be right, changing it to “sunken” or “embossed” might be better. Really, I just like the Letterpress name better. For some great Letterpress printing inspiration, check out Adventures in Letterpress. Reply

September 4, 2009 at 8:11 pm

Amazing !!!! Thank you so much for sharing it ! Reply


September 12, 2009 at 2:02 am

This is a fab tutorial! What is the icon set that you used in the last image?? Reply


September 12, 2009 at 8:09 am

It is one I sell on iStock Web Icons (Reflections 2). Reply


September 15, 2009 at 11:10 am

wow. great technique.. popular on the web. seen lotsa photoshop tuts on this. Reply


September 17, 2009 at 5:44 am



Great! Thank you! Reply


September 19, 2009 at 7:34 pm

That’s cool, but I don’t have a little drop down box in the Fills of my Appearance palette. You must be using a newer version of Illustrator. Reply

Doug C.

September 22, 2009 at 11:21 pm

Awesome tutorial… But i cant get the final step! I don’t know what i am doing wrong please help! Reply


September 23, 2009 at 5:46 am

The Transform effect or Graphic Style? Reply


September 23, 2009 at 2:39 pm

The graphic style Reply


September 23, 2009 at 2:40 pm

The graphic style.. It doesn’t create a typography graphic style Reply


September 26, 2009 at 7:24 am

used to create such an effect in photoshop before. though it’s possible to achieve a similar effect, the required time was much longer. this new method will help me to save a lot of time. thanks man.


keep up the good work… Reply

September 30, 2009 at 10:42 pm

Very nicely done! I’ve seen this done in PS but not AI. Thanks! Reply

Multimedia Design

October 1, 2009 at 10:24 am

Clearly presented … many thanks. I’ve used this in Photoshop, but the pointers for doing so in Illustrator are much appreciated. Reply

Mark Carter

October 5, 2009 at 8:57 am

Why is this not offered as a downloadable style? Reply


October 5, 2009 at 10:49 am

I can’t offer it as a download because of my contract I have with iStock. I know it sounds stupid, but I can’t offer any download I have created. Reply


October 7, 2009 at 6:18 am

Ryan thanks a bunch! i’m a newbie n really liked what i see here…its neat! Reply


October 8, 2009 at 11:32 am

I’m not sure I made it right. The corner of letter is like this Any suggestion? Thanks Reply


October 11, 2009 at 1:58 am

that’s cool, simple and easy but amazing.. thanks Reply


October 16, 2009 at 11:38 pm

Excellent Tutorial! Adding this site to my RSS Feeds now. Reply


October 25, 2009 at 4:18 pm

very nice style, thanks for the tut.. Reply

joyoge bookmark

October 26, 2009 at 9:22 pm

This tutorial is great! Thanks for making it. What are the three fonts used in step 10? Reply


October 29, 2009 at 11:02 am

i love this technique !! but not as easy as Photoshop Reply


November 4, 2009 at 2:56 am

Nice, thanks a lot! I didn’t have a dropbox either from my fill, but you can change the colour manually each time.


The possibility of making this into a graphic style is great! Reply

November 4, 2009 at 1:24 pm

Beautiful type tutorial, this letterpress effect looks very elegant. Thanks! Reply

Offset Printing Services

November 15, 2009 at 3:03 pm

Million thanks! Already used for my portfolio website! Reply


December 9, 2009 at 11:33 pm

This is the greatest Illustrator tut I’ve seen in a long while. I feel like such a took – I didn’t realize you could apply two fills. This has opened so many new doors for me. Thanks much! Reply

stem creative

January 2, 2010 at 9:03 pm

thank you, great now i can make my own letterpress based on your tutorial Reply


January 4, 2010 at 1:35 pm

hello is this made in cs3 or cs4 cause am trying on cs3 and i dont get the results of step 3. i get stuck there.

image Grafics

please help. if you’re using cs4 can you help me how to use it on cs3. thank you its a great tut. Reply

January 10, 2010 at 6:13 pm

Hi, thanks for this tutorial, its great. I have CS2 and it works fine. I had to start from the beginning a few times because some things didn’t work for some reason (i.e inner glow) but the result is fine. Is there any way to ‘smooth out’ the inner glow effect as it looks pixilated and I’m not sure

Ruby Red

how this will show when printed. To Image Grafics: In step 2 the line and stroke are set to none. So in step 3, highlight the text and click on the little button with the arrow on the top right of the appearance box. Then select the first option and the text colour will change to black. Then change the text colour to a shade darker than your background box (if you are using one). I don’t have the arrow next to the colour to change it, so went to my colour palate and changed it manually. Reply

January 21, 2010 at 12:54 pm

it is more easy on photoshop, nice tuts. thanks Reply


January 26, 2010 at 2:45 am

Wow, I’m going to try that technique for sure. Is there a way you can do something similar in Fireworks? Anyone got a good URL for it? Reply

Adam C

January 31, 2010 at 4:46 am

thank you man Reply


February 20, 2010 at 12:50 pm

Thanks for the great tutorial-but I’m having trouble. Why is it that when I try to add a new fill or even go to illustrator effects for inner glow (or any other similar option) that all these options are greyed out? Reply


March 24, 2010 at 7:08 am

“Add new fill” is greyed out when I try to select it. What is the problem? Reply


March 26, 2010 at 11:02 am

I’m getting the same problem to. I get a greyed out effect. Anyone got any ideas? Reply


May 26, 2010 at 9:15 am

Make sure you are selecting your text before you try and add a new fill Reply

Aaron Miller

April 22, 2010 at 1:05 pm

Nice tips thanks for the share thanks again

Web Design


May 27, 2010 at 10:39 am

Amazing tutorial. Just what I was looking for. Thanks! Reply

Juan Ortega

June 9, 2010 at 10:15 pm

Wow very effective effect thanks for the great tutorial , cool output! Reply


June 19, 2010 at 11:20 am

I don’t know why I don’t get the same kind of effect!!

But it is a nice

tutorial, thank you very mucho! Reply


January 24, 2011 at 2:24 am

I don’t know if I will get to explain you correctly because my English is so bad but I’m seeing than other people like you has the same problem and the solution is really simple. If you follow the tutorial your final effect is not the same. Just change where you put -1 put 1, and where you put 1, change to 1.


Now in Spanish. Y ahora en español que ese very mucho suena raro jeje. Simplemente cambia los valores de los pasos en los para la sombra y luz, intercambiándolos sacarás el efecto que ha hecho el autor. Donde ha puesto 1 en el desplazamiento vertical, pon 1, y al revés en el otro caso, donde puso -1 pon 1. Simple. Saludos Reply

June 29, 2010 at 3:55 am

Heya, i tried several times following the tut every single wordd, but everytime it looks more like the text is outdentented rather than indented, any ideas? Reply


June 29, 2010 at 7:21 am

What version of Illustrator are you using? Reply


January 24, 2011 at 2:32 am

Rype, this happen becouse values in vertical displacement must change to positive where you put in negative value and put negative where you’ve put positive. I’m sorry my English. Cheers Reply


June 30, 2010 at 4:12 pm

Thanks a lot, very simple and nice, I loved your tutorials explain every detail and I love it XD Reply


July 12, 2010 at 11:30 pm

My Inner Glow doesn’t seem to be working. What size font are you working at? Reply


July 18, 2010 at 3:30 pm

Sick tutorial, i read it on your iPhone app. after i finished the tut, i dragged the Graphic style on a vector logo (all stroke, no fill) and it worked perfectly, not just that, but it looked awesome!!!

Nathan Simpson

thanks for the tut, im going to keep watching your tuts. Reply

July 28, 2010 at 7:11 pm

Great tutorial..! Thanks a lot..! Reply


August 4, 2010 at 1:02 pm

I’d also like to know what size font you used. The vertical move definitely needs to be adjusted depending on the font size and though I keep playing with it, it doesn’t seem to be quite as smoothly done as yours, especially when I try applying the graphic style I created to other


fonts. Would you say that this works best if you stick to a particular color value range? For example, the second fill should be x shades darker than the first fill? BTW, I followed step-by-step in CS2 and was able to create this effect (and I’m still somewhat of a beginner). So my advice to others working in different versions is simply to look carefully around the workspace. You won’t get the drop down menu for the colors but you can manually change the color value of the second fill based on the original color values. Reply

August 13, 2010 at 12:55 pm

Hi, I just can’t seem to get the effect right. Could you help me find out why? It starts at Step 4. I can’t get the inner glow effect. Maybe the chosen font is too thin: Acid (http://26plus-

Clarissa Thanks and congratulations on the tutorial. Clarissa


August 22, 2010 at 8:56 pm

Sorry but I can’t figure out how to make this work. I’m Using CS5 and all the dialogues look identical to CS4. Where I seem to be going wrong is when I try to transform the dark inner glow to make it offset all it does is drop the entire type down one point. How do I get only the glow within the type to lower while keeping the actual type in the correct spot.



October 6, 2010 at 6:50 am

WOOOOW lotsa’ comments. But yes. Amazing. Now I know how to use the whole “New Fill” thing, and graphic styles! Reply


October 25, 2010 at 9:05 am

I am glowing inside about this tutorial. Viva La web. Took a while to figure it but now I’m really exploring graphical sytles because of this. Thank you. Reply

Andy Chewit

October 25, 2010 at 12:55 pm

Thank you this great sharing. Reply


November 24, 2010 at 9:45 am

I cant seem to get this to work as a graphic style. Once i create the graphic style and try to apply it to other elements (text, for example) it only changes the color of the text to one of the colors used in the tut. no other effects are added. Is there a step missing from saving the graphic style? What am I missing? (I am using CS4)



April 7, 2011 at 1:40 am

your text should be clear (no stroke or fill) for the style to work on it Reply


December 16, 2010 at 11:25 am

very useful tut..thanks! Reply


December 26, 2010 at 6:09 am

Fantastic tutorial! Please tell me how to create styles by myself how long i can use tutorials?:) Reply


February 4, 2011 at 10:44 am

This effect doesn’t seem to work at all on text sizes smaller that 48px. Makes this effect pretty much useless on buttons. By the way, you can accomplish steps 5 thru 10 much easier by adding two drop shadows (yes, you can add multiple instances of the effect) to


the original fill. One shadow goes up uses a dark color with multiply mode selected, while the other shadow goes down using a lighter color and screen mode. Much easier than creating new fills and moving them around. Reply

February 4, 2011 at 10:48 am

Just realized that this effect is probably meant to be used on large text. Smaller text, as in buttons, looks great by just leaving off the inner glow. Do everything else and you get the great letterpress you in this tute. Reply


February 7, 2011 at 7:27 am

Very n1 & helpful tutorial. I did it a few times to get a good result. U have to be very careful with the color shades. If the colors too different it wouldn’t work out. I also played a little bit with the opacity of the two fills below the text.


For me 80% for the first and 50% for the white works excellent Reply

February 17, 2011 at 3:16 am

Really great tut! I was really scratching my head trying to figure out how to do this in Illustrator. It bugs me that Illustrator doesn’t have the same array of easy-to-use effects as Photoshop. Guess it’s because it’s all vector in Illustrator…


Anywhooo, thanx again for a great tut! Reply

February 24, 2011 at 6:31 am

nice work! i now have a “letterpress” graphic style! Reply


February 24, 2011 at 7:11 pm

Exactly what I was looking for – and very well laid out. Thank you!! Reply

Victoria Gazeley

March 1, 2011 at 3:31 pm

Thank you very much for tutorial, it was very helpful!!! Reply


March 9, 2011 at 9:35 am

thanks for the tutorial it was really helpful. take care. Reply


March 29, 2011 at 3:23 pm

Very cool tutorial. You exposed me to a whole new approach to creating things like this. Much more efficient way of working! Reply


April 6, 2011 at 1:29 pm

I am having the same problem as a few others. I get zero effect when I get to the Inner Glow step. I have tried it several times with different fonts in various sizes and different colors. I tried it in CS4 and CS5 to no avail. I am pretty disapointed because I love the look. I am not a


newbie, I know the difference between the Illustrator vs. Photoshop effects so I am not sure what is going wrong. Reply

April 12, 2011 at 1:43 am

i think it is missing some steps in Step 4, when the inner glow is applied, the next images shown next has a drop shadow effect already, if its inner glow only, it should be centered. I dont quite understand the part that made that drop shadow effect inside the letters, i wish i could


because its a really great tutorial, thanks anywayz Reply

May 14, 2011 at 8:29 am

Good tutorial. I’d like to add that if you would like to change the color of the effect quickly because you need to apply it on a different background, I found it easier to select your text & background and use the recolor artwork tool (use the 1 color preset) rather than change all


colors individually. Reply

May 30, 2011 at 5:13 am

i <3 you Reply


July 7, 2011 at 8:33 am

Thanks for sharing! I found it difficult to choose the correct colors. What I’ve done: the same effect in Photoshop, and pick the colors from there.

Marcel Fok

Final result looks stunning! Reply

July 12, 2011 at 7:42 am

Nice tutorial. Thank you. However i cannot make this effect. Because of colors. Can you give color codes? or hint how to select appropriate colors? Reply


July 13, 2011 at 12:01 pm

Hey, great tutorial! There is a little question though, when you apply the inner glow in the early stages of the tutorial, it appears to be angled, as if the glow is not appearing equally across the whole typeface, thus creating a realistic shaded effect. When I apply the inner glow, it isn’t


angled like yours. Is there a way you can control which angle the inner glow appears? Tea Reply

August 1, 2011 at 5:41 pm

But this doesn’t even look like letterpress… Reply


August 19, 2011 at 12:24 pm

Great tutorial, even though—as explained before—letterpress isn’t an accurate description (which is what I was looking for). There’s a lot of great techniques in here, that, even though I don’t need them right now, I will come back to this later! Thanks for posting!

John Mc


August 25, 2011 at 6:19 am

Rattling nice style and design and wonderful written content , absolutely nothing else we require : D. Reply

jeux pc pas cher

August 31, 2011 at 3:21 am

Nice tutorial, could someone tell me where can i find the same tutorial but for photoshop please? Thanks Reply


September 12, 2011 at 9:51 pm

this tutorial doesnt even yield the same result, i tried this like a zillion times already and im on illustrator cs5. under inner glow if i check ” centre” then i get almost similar results otherwise its just way different. Reply


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Exerc 1  
Exerc 1  

exerc 1 adobe illustrator cs5