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How To: Pattern Text Fill in Adobe Illustrator and InDesign

by Abbey Fitzgerald | May 12, 2016

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Typography is the foundation for any great design. Without type, what message are we sending? As designers, we are always looking to step out of our current comfort zones to create unique typography and typography effects. Text can be transformed from the run-of-the-mill solid color with a pattern fill. Adobe Illustrator and InDesign are two tools that are perfect for the job. Assuming that you are familiar with document setup, we will start our card design with patterned text.

Create Patterned Text with Adobe Illustrator

Step One: Establish Type

After you have created a new document for this project, it’s time to use the Type (T) tool. Type the featured word(s) so that there are letters to work with. It is fairly easy to change later on, so if anything needs to be adjusted it won’t take a lot of additional effort.

text-pattern-place

Step Two: Fill Text with Pattern

We will be going over two options for our texture, an image pattern or a more uniform pattern. Adobe Illustrator is the better choice when it comes to a vector fill pattern. It can be done in InDesign, but it would have to be saved into an actual image.

Photo: Go to File > Place and select a picture. Then copy and paste the text onto the picture.

Pattern: Making a custom swatch is the easiest way to integrate pattern into the type. With the pattern selected, choose Edit > Define Pattern. It’s helpful to enter a name, especially if there are many patterns. After choosing “Ok”, the pattern displays in the Swatches panel. With the text selected, you can choose the swatch and it will fill your text.

Step Three: Make Workable Text

Photo: Make sure that the text is above the picture. After selecting both the image and text, right click and select “make clipping mask”. Your text should now change from its default color to the pattern of the image it was placed over.
text-pattern-02
Pattern: This is an optional step, but designers often will do this to account for any font issues when making the print PDF. this makes the text uneditable, so if you are not 100% sure of the text, wait to do this. Select Type > Create Outlines.

Create Patterned Text with Adobe InDesign

Step One: Establish Type

Like in the above instructions, type the featured word(s) so we can get our base type to work with.
It is fairly easy to change later on, so if anything needs to be adjusted it won’t take a lot of additional effort. In this case, it is easiest to work with outlined type, but keeping a copy of the live text is always a good idea. This can be kept off to the side or on a hidden layer. Shift Command + O will change the type into paths.

Step Two: Merging the Text and Image

Once the type in it’s place, open the Pathfinder panel Window > Object & Layout. This is where we will be merging with the image. Make sure that the type is selected because there will be a picture-binding box that you can paste or import into.

text-pattern-04

Step Three: Getting the Image into the Outlined Type

Copy the image that you would like to fill the text with, then select the outlined text and “paste into”. “Paste Into” is the option that you will use with Option + Command + V. The Effects panel will help to reinforce the depth in the typography by adding a drop shadow.

paste-into

With two great approaches to creating interesting typography, this technique can be used on a variety of printing. Posters, invitations, and business cards are all great products to show off your newly created type.

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