Engraving Tutorial

First of all, I’m finally glad people are asking me to make a specific tutorial so they can put to use/know for their work.

In this tutorial, I’ll guide you into making highlights and shadows for any types of objects simple (square) and otherwise ( irregular). This will achieve an engrave effect.

What You’ll Be Making:


  • Illustrator
  • Pathfinder/ShapeBuilder
  • Gaussian Blur
  • Slight experience w/ Illustrator


1. A. Make a background with a vibrant color. Then draw any object that you want to make highlights/shadows for. B. Alt+Drag or Opt-Drag the objects(s) to make a copy of them.

2. A. Change the color of the “bottom” copy into a light color than the background (I chose a nice light blue color). B. Then add a Gaussian Blur of 20 to the copy.

3. A. Move the copy over the original. B. Right click the object and select Arrange>Send Backward ( Ctrl+[ or Cmd+[ ). C. Now you have the highlight portion of your object.

4. A. Copy-drag your original object (not the highlight). B. Copy-drag that new copy as well and give it a different color (I made mine orange). Make sure the space between these copies is similar to the space between the highlight and your original object.

5. Make lines through “gaps” if your object is irregular (like my 2). You’ll see why we add the lines.

6. A. Select your 2 copies with the lines. Now click the shortcut Shift+M (or use pathfinder but this will save time) to bring the ShapeBuilder tool. You will now see a plus shape for the cursor, holding option or alt will give you a negative shape cursor. Use the ShapeBuilder tool to add the “shadow” pieces together and then hold option/alt to cut away pieces you don’t need or that won’t be the shadow portion. That’s why we had the lines so we cut the shapes we needed. B. Keep cutting/adding till you have the shapes that will form the shadow. See pictures for reference and help.

7. Make sure to group your shadow pieces if there is a lot of pieces.

8. Give our original shapes a color darker than the highlight or background but lighter than the shadow. I chose a simple dark-blue color. But you could also use a gradient if you want.

9. Let’s give our shadow(s) a Gaussian Blur of 20.

10. Copy-drag our original object so that the top portion of the shadow(s) meets with the top portion of the original object. Also make sure the copy is in front of the shadow. See picture for help.

11. A. Select the copy and the shadow and right-click and choose Create Clipping Mask. B. The clipping mask helped to crop away the blurred pixels that would ruin the shadow effect as you will see.

12. The final step is to moved our clipped shadow over to the original shape. This gave us the shadow portion that we needed. With the shadow, original, and highlights shape, you have achieved the engrave effect.

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial and that it will beneficial to you in some way.


About Fadi G.

I am a digital artist and I hope to push the bounds of creativity. I will produce videos, illustrations, animations, and more interesting things.

Posted on January 24, 2011, in Effects, Pathfinder, Shape-Builder, Tutorials and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Wonderful, Fadi. Great tutorial!

  2. Thank you so much for this tutorial!!

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