In this Illustrator tutorial, we’ll create this text effect using the power of the blend features in Illustrator. We can create custom text using the Pen or Pencil tool in mere moments or, in the second half of this tutorial, we’ll take a typeface and split the letters apart and find the center of each letter and apply this 3D tube effect letter-by-letter. If you like type and you like Illustrator, you’ll love this tutorial!
Create the Simple Blend: The Foundation of This Effect
Grab the Ellipse tool and hold down the Shift key and drag out a small circle and open the Gradient panel and click on the black to white thumbnail to set the fill to a gradient. You can double click on either of the color stops and change the gradient to whatever you like. I went with a light blue to dark blue gradient at an angle. Hold down Alt/Opt + Shift and drag the ellipse to the right and then select both ellipses and go Object>Blend>Blend Options and set the Blend to Specified Steps to 1000 and choose to have the blend Align to Page (icon to the left.) Hit OK and then go Object>Blend>Make to make a perfect blend between these two shapes. Check out the video above to see exactly how I did this.
Replace Spine to Make the Effect Work
Grab the Pen tool or the Pencil tool (or any tool that can create a path) and draw out a small path and select the fill swatch at the bottom of the tools panel and hit the little slash to get rid of the fill. Do the same to get rid of the stroke too. Select the path we just made using the Selection tool and hold down the Shift key and click on the blend as well and then go Object>Blend>Replace Spine to mesh the gradient tube onto our path. This is the essence of this effect.
Editing and Flipping the Blend
Once you have the basic effect you can go back into the Blend Options or the Blend menu and change the number of steps, the alignment, or you can go Object>Blend>Reverse to change up the way this effect plays with the path. This is a live effect! If you want to see how I converted a bit of text to paths that will work with this blend 3D effect to create entire words out of this effect watch the video at the top of this post to see exactly how all this fits together and how to work with typography and this 3D style effect!