How to create textured vector graphics & type – the Illustrator way



“Born To Social” is an illustration I created for the apparel line I am starting,  – Instagram @zuluwarriorapparel.  << Follow! All designs and illustrations are targeted towards rugby athletes and will be added to the apparel line as we grow! Named after our late dog Zulu, we hope to help grow the sport of rugby and plan to donate a percentage of every profit to local rugby clubs and animals shelters.

Yes, you can do this in Photoshop. Yes, it IS a little trendy but, this technique describes a great way to create those trendy hand drawn styles and textures to your work and the final output is a fully scalable, high-resolution, vector object! At the end of this blog I will post a link to Chris Spooner’s website. I learned this style from his blog and he goes into much more detail. He also has vector/texture bundles to download for free! In this blog however, I will describe a simple way to create your own texture and then follow his steps.

Step 1: Create an expanded object or outlined text in Illustrator. I used a slide of pizza that I drew using the pen tool.

It is important that this image whether it’s outlined text or a drawn object is converted to a Compound Path. Object > Compound Path or Cmd+8 (Both the texture (once created) and image you are adding the texture to must be made into a Compound Path.

Step 2: Find a textured image (wooden fence/concrete/any texture) and place in Illustrator.

For the Born to Social illustration I used one of Chris’s vector pack textures – but this style could achieved be using a grainy surface (maybe concrete) and following these steps.

Step 3: Live trace the textured image. You may need to adjust the threshold so that you get less “black”.

Step 4: Expand the traced image and then use the Magic Wand tool to select the white of the image. Delete the white of the image.

You will now have a texture similar to what I used from his vector pack.

Step 5: Drag the expanded texture over the Type or Object you are distressing.

Remember: If you are using type, outline and then turn it into a compound path (object > compound path > make ) ALL objects must be compound paths!

Step 6: Select both Type/Object and texture

Step 7: Use pathfinder and click “Minus Back”

You should now have a textured, fully scalable, vector image!

Here is the link to Chris Spooner’s website –

He goes into much better detail and will also describe quick ways to create vector hand drawn typography using the mesh tool in Illustrator.

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