Asterisk Web Design

How To Make Realistic Looking String in Illustrator


Recently, I was thinking how to upgrade the logo for a friend who owns Offramp Designs (, a clothing company for those on the road less-traveled.  Of the many possibilities, I thought it might be cool to incorporate the clothing tag into the design. As part of this, I wanted the logo to appear like it was hanging from something… thus I needed to create small length of string to hook through the logo.

The wrong way to go about this would be to take a photograph of string and then Photoshop it into the design.  Why? Because logos need to be in a format that is infinitely scalable without the loss of quality because you never know where you will need to use them (business card, A-frame, billboard).  This means vector art.  What is vector art? It is an image created by lines and curves with exact algorithmic values. In short, your computer renders the curve based on a set of numbers that tell it how to exactly bend a line.  Because it is based on mathematics, that bent line will have the exact same shape at size n as it does at size n1000. Why can’t Photoshop do this? Photoshop is not a vector based program, it is a raster based program. Here is a good article on the difference between raster and vector art.

Now for the good stuff. Here are two images: the before and after.

Part 1: Recreate the original in Illustrator

In this case, I had no original source document to work from so I had to create it myself.  Thankfully, this was quite easy as the logo is not very complicated.  I may do another tutorial in the future how to save time creating a more complicated logo from a raster file.

Step 1

I downloaded the image to a new directory and opened it up in Illustrator.  Then select the Elipse tool (Command + L) and once y start to make the circle, press the Shift key to make it a perfect circle on top of the existing logo.  Doesn’t have to be perfect the first time because you can adjust it after the fact.

Step 2

With the circle selected, go to Object > Offset Path….  (For this step, it may be helpful to reduce the opacity of this layer to see where exactly things are placed on the original image. To do this, go to the Transparency window).  In this case, it looks like -3 is the right offset.  Click OK.

Step 3


Select your Direct Selection Tool (A) and click on the inner circle (the path you just created).  I had to first de-select the circle and then click back on where the inner path is.  Then, to select the entire path, switch to your Selection Tool (V).  Switch your fill color (green) with your outline color (transparent) by clicking on the double arrow next to the two colors.

Step 4

Switch the outline color to the burnt orange on the original.  Don’t worry, we can color match later so an approximation is fine.  (For perfectionists, the color is #COOOOO).


Now, go to the Stroke properties and set the Weight to 2, Meter Limit 4, and check Dashed Line. Set the dash-gap pattern to 8px.

Step 5

We actually used a font for the title: DIES

EL (download here).  Type in the name and rotate it to match. Dark green = #004A2D, Lighter Orange = #FF2B09.


Ahh, much better.

Part 2: Making Punchhole and String

Step 6

Delete the original image and increase the opacity of your project back to 100%.


Go back to your Elipse Tool (L) and create a small circle at the top of the logo.

Step 7

Now select both the circle you just created and the large green circle by holding Shift while you click on the green circle. Go to Object > Compound Path > Make.  This may jump above everything else so go to Object > Arrange > Send to Back.


Select all (Command + A) and then go to Object > Group to group the items together.

Step 8


In another part of the same document, away from the logo create a loooong box with the Rectangle tool (M).

Step 9

With it selected, change the fill to a gradient (.). In the gradient window, click on the left most slider (probably white).  In the Color window, the white color picker should come up.  Click on the Options for this window and select RGB or CMYK if not already selected. Do this for the right slider too.


For the left color select a lighter orange( C: 4.31, M: 27.45, Y: 81.96, K: 0) and for the right select a brown (C: 36.47, M: 59.22, Y: 100, K: 25.49).

step-10Should look something like this.

Step 10

Select the Crystalize Tool (a sub-option for the Warp Tool) and set your setting to approximately this.  (The size of your  box will determine exactly what to put these at).


Your tool should look like this when hovering over your object:


Next, use the tool to create many spiky bits coming out from both sides of the gradient rectangle.


So several passes (4) and make sure the edge is nice and rough.


Step 11

Next use the Direct Selection Tool to select one half of the object.  Move it towards the center to narrow the width.


And the result:


Step 12

Go back to the Warp Tool and set it with the following properties:


Run the Warp tool just so the tip of each spike are moved, not the entire side.  You want to create the effect of fibers, not mush.  Keep running your warp tool over it until the “fibers” are smoothed down against the main body of the rectangle.  This will take quite a few strokes to accomplish.


Step 13

Repeat step 11.  Create a spiky rectangle but don’t apply the warp treatment to it.  step-20

Step 14

Place the new spiky rectangle on top of the other one, elongate it to match the size of the first and then shrink it to match the approximate size of the hole in the logo (oh yeah, remember that?). step-21step-23

Step 15

Duplicate the string piece several times so you have backups.  Also you may want to lock the logo before this next step by selecting it and going to Object > Lock.

Use the Warp Tool again but this time set it to the size of  the height of the string and a very low intensity.

Now bend the string to give it some shape. step-25

Put in in place. step-26

Now create a shape that we’ll use for a clipping mask on top of the string.  Make sure to get the edge of the logo just right.


Make a clipping mask by selecting both the new shape and the string and go to Object > Clipping Mask > Make.

Step 16

Take one of your duplicate strings and transform it to be the other half of the loop.


Make another clipping mask for this object.


Part 3: Final Touches

Step 17

Add Drop Shadow: Effects > Stylize > Drop Shadow.


I did adjust the colors and the gradient to my liking.


Download the source Illustrator File: logo (.ai)


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  • 3
    July 19, 2015 - 8:51 pm | Permalink

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