Tutorial- Bevel/ Emboss in Illustrator

This one is especially for my esteemed colleagues in the LinkedIn Adobe Illustrator Group. To add to the conversation regarding bevel effects in illustrator I have taken some screen shots of my take on this challenge.

THE CHALLENGE: Create a bevel/emboss effect in Illustrator that is simple, editable and reusable. Framing the challenge this way lets us know, right off the bat, that we are talking about creating a graphic style using the appearances palette (since CS3 my hands-down favorite panel).

Step 1. Create your type in AI. Make sure that the type is the approximate size as the final file will be. Convert your type to paths (command/control +shift+O). You will be able to apply the final graphic style to editable type and scale it (with “scale strokes and effects” checked in your Preferences dialogue, but the type will need to be the same size as your initial type when you apply the Graphic Style). Make sure the outlined type has no stroke and no fill.

Step 2. I’m showing the panels we’ll be using for ease of discussion. In the Appearances Panel (AP), give the fill a vertical linear gradient (you can change the direction to match the lighting of your project). Make sure that the light side of the gradient is not pure white. Save that gradient in your swatches panel for ease of access.

Step 3. With the fill selected, choose “Stylize –> Dropshadow” from the “FX” fly out button at the bottom of the AP. Set the X and Y offset to 0. You can adjust the opacity and blur to taste, but I would keep it subtle. The purpose of the dropshadow is simply to emphasize the light edge at the top of the gradient.

Step 4. Create a new fill layer above the original. Select the same gradient from your swatches, then open the gradient panel and click the “Reverse Gradient” button (in CS4 it looks like two little swatches with arrows at right angles).

With the new fill  selected, add another effect: select Path –> Offset Path. Create a negative value (try -0.014). Thats all!

This will give you the basic effect. Drag the text into the Graphic Styles menu. Now you have a style that you can edit and apply to live text. Make sure you click your type tool rather than clicking and dragging a text box, otherwise you will not be able to scale your type. Also, as mentioned, make sure your “scale strokes and effects” checkbox is ticked in your Preferences panel.


Step 5. For a smooth embossed effect, give the top fill a gentle gaussian blur from the FX menu of the AP. You can add additional layers to create additional effects. Below is a collection of alterations to the above method. Below each sample is a brief description of what I changed.Play around and don’t forget to add each configuration to your Graphic Styles palette. To have the Graphic Styles handy, delete all art on your artboard (once all styles have been added) and save the file in your Adobe Illustrator preset folder in the “Graphic Styles” folder. Now you can load your beveled styles into the Graphic Style palette for any project you need.


4 Responses to “Tutorial- Bevel/ Emboss in Illustrator”

  1. elliot Says:

    hi thanks a lot. i’ve followed all the steps but i cant seem to add the text as a graphic style.

    in step 4 you say to create a new fill layer. is there such a thing in illustrator?

  2. elliot Says:

    Hi Labsquad. I finally managed to add the top layer to the graphic styles panel. you do realize though that the complete effect is not replicated at a future instance since it is only the top effect that is copied/saved. any way to go around this?

    I really appreciate this post thanks once again

    • labsquad Says:

      Hi Elliot-
      Thanks for your comments, questions and compliments. If I understand you correctly, you dragged the fully-styled,outlined text onto the Graphic Styles panel thereby creating a new graphic style.
      If by “complete effect” you mean all of the items added to the appearances panel, then I am not sure why you have been unable to reuse the complete graphic style. I commonly build graphic styles with 10-15 individual fills and strokes (with transparency and effects) and apply the heck out of ’em. You mention adding the “top layer”, can you elaborate on how you did that? Maybe that will help me understand your dilemma and I can give you a solution.

  3. How can I get the Bevel & Emboss effect for text in Illustrator? Says:

    […] 127 I found this great tutorial online for this effect that your looking for. Hope this is helping you get the look your looking for. Bevel Emboss Tut – Labsquad […]

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