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Creative Text Masking - Illustrator CS2 Tutorial

Carl Grivakis


December, 2006

This tutorial is meant to help you create a creative mask with text, something that you can use in a variety of mediums, both print and web based.

Open a new document in Illustrator, This particular tutorial uses version CS2, but the steps should be the same in previous versions.

First you need to find an image that you'd like to use as a mask, for the purpose of this tutorial we'll use a nice textural image of sheet music. Simply place this image and lock it in place.

Next you'll type out the text that you'd want to use as the mask, I recommend a nice bold font that will allow for a lot of the texture to show through. I also added a musical note from another font to substitute in place of the 'S' in music. Place the text over the part of the image you want the mask to show through.

After this select all of the text with the arrow tool, it should be highlighted all together as shown. Choose from the text menu, create outlines. This will convert all the letters to shapes, and will not edit with the Type Tool once this is done.

Next group the outlined letters and select from the Object menu, Compound path, Make.

Now in the object menu, unlock all so your background can be selected again. Using the black arrow tool select the outlined letters and the background together. Choose the Object Menu, Clipping Mask, Make.

Your result will be the letter shapes masking out the background we used. I've added a background behind to better show the results.

I hope this tutorial helps you create more interesting designs, look for more tutorials from me in the near future.

Carl Grivakis is owner of PowderKeg Graphic Design, and runs a blog called Tapp-d at


Copyright (c) 2006, Carl Grivakis , All Rights Reserved


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