I see this worn, distressed effect used all over the place lately. It’s not new, it just seems to be hanging on. I discovered this easy, easy way to recreate this distressed look and a lot more. So here it is, short and sweet. I used Adobe Illustrator CS5 this time, I was also able to recreate this effect in Illustrator CS3 too.
Step One: Set your type (I used Arial Black for this example). You can use a shape instead of type if you want to.
Step Two: If you’re using type, convert your type to outlines; select your type, then go to Type; Create Outlines.
Step Three: Add color as desired. You can give the outlined text a a stoke too if you like. The shape has to be filled in order for the effect to work.
Step Four: Choose an image of a texture that you want to use. The image must be at least as large as the shape you are distressing. I used an image I shot for this example. It’s cracked pavement. If you don’t have any texture images you can get some really good images from Wetzel Company, Inc. Wetzel offers great, copyright free, background, texture, and pattern images for use in Photoshop, Illustrator too. GrungeTextures.com offers free high-res textures for digital art and graphic design.
Once you’ve chosen your image, open it in Photoshop, and increase the contrast a bit, and lighten the image if it’s very dark using Image; Adjustments; Brightness Contrast. This will help the texture show up better in the next steps. Save and close your image and go back to Illustrator. Although, not all images will require this step, and it may not be necessary at all given the colors you choose.
Step Five: In Illustrator, Go to File; Place, and navigate to the texture image file you have chosen. Scale your texture image as you wish, making sure it will cover the area of your type, or shape. (It is best to have an image that is bigger than your shape, you don’t want to increase the size of your texture image because it’s a raster not vector, and you will lose resolution).
Step Six: Now select both the type or shape, and your texture image. Open your Transparency panel (Window; Transparency), then open the fly out menu on the right, and choose make opacity mask.
Step Seven: Check out your Transparency panel, while both items are selected and you’ll see two image icons. One is your type shape, the other the texture mask. You can click on the texture mask icon in your Transparency panel, and using the direct selection tool, (A), you can move the texture image around as you wish to get the effect that you want.
Step Eight: You can select Invert Mask in your Transparency panel for a result similar to this. Notice that you can click on either your mask image or your original shape from within the panel, be sure to click on your original shape in your Transparency panel when you’re done to get out of mask mode (if you don’t you won’t be able to select anything else). That’s all there is to it.
You can have a lot of fun with this method by layering textures on top of each other, masking shapes with texture images, and using a variety of textures and patterns. This look is useful for a lot of different applications from logos, to page layout, or posters, video, DVD interfaces. You name it. Your imagination is the limit! Experiment and see what you can do with it.