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Grunge Text Effect Tutorial

The Grunge/scratchy effect has grown more and more popular for t-shirt designs and I thought I would share one way of how I’ve recreated this design in Adobe Illustrator CS. Our Goal is to go from this plain looking piece of text to a stylish grunge design.

1. Start out with one or two distress patterns. These will be used to create the grunge scratchy effect overlay on your text. These particular patterns I used can be found free at U.S. Screen Print and Inkjet Technology, thanks to Scott Fresener.

Step 01- tutorial 01

2. Write out some text. For this tutorial, I’ll be using the word Ireland but can you write whatever you so please. Outline Text. Type> Create Outlines

Step 02- tutorial 01

3. Apply a stroke weight to your text. I used 2 point and chose an artsy charcoal brush. I also used the same color as my future background for the stroke.
Step 03- tutorial 01
4. Object>Expand Appearance


5. Stroke>Fill Color> Round Edges, and increase stroke to two or three

Step 05- tutorial 01

6. Object>Path> Outline Stroke

Step 06- tutorial 01
7. Rotate your text, if you prefer. It makes for a cooler look!

Step 07- tutorial 01
8. Select one of your distress patterns and place it on top of text. Object> Arrange>Bring to Front and color if you like. I used a grey color.

Step 08- tutorial 01

9. Now Select your text edit>copy click off and paste> in front
Step 09- tutorial 01

10. Object> Compound Path> Make ( with the top layer of text) . Select Pattern while leaving the text selected ( use ALT). Object> Make Clipping Mask. Looking nice, huh?

Step 10- tutorial 01

11. Bring second pattern over on top of text. Make pattern same color as the background ( choose white like I did if you are designing for a t-shirt or some other type of merchandise… and save as a a transparent image) Tweak if necessary to any color of your liking.

Step 11- tutorial 01

12. Admire a job well done and begin to make wonderfully great art with this simple but stylish look.

Step 12- tutorial 01

If you have any questions or comments, leave a message below or contact me using my contact form located on my site.

Here are a few products that I created with this style:

In association with Zazzle.comIn association with Zazzle.comIn association with Zazzle.comIn association with


  1. February 19, 2008    

    How neat! What a great tutorial!! Thanks for that.

  2. February 20, 2008    

    Amazing tutorial. When you put it all down like that it seems so easy, but I have trouble even envisioning what steps it would take to get from the beginning to the end. Can you really just look at something and know what it would take to get to that finished product? Amazing.

  3. March 11, 2008    

    This is the official homepage of the Farise site portal.
    Official site has lyrics, sounds, articles, tour dates, discography, pictures, FAQ, and message board.

  4. April 8, 2008    

    Great tutorial, thanks. I use Illustrator a lot for type and initial images and then usually bring it into Photoshop for effects, but the more I can do directly in Illustrator the greater the overall flexibility it gives me. I’m self taught and it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you that I know as much as I do in terms of designs programs. So, thanks again. I’ll be stopping by frequently.

  5. Awesome tutorial! :-)

  6. September 10, 2009    

    Hi! I was surfing and found your blog post… nice! I love your blog. :) Cheers! Sandra. R.

  7. October 10, 2009    

    Found this on accident but im glad I did!
    Off to Illustrator.

    Cheers All!


  8. March 13, 2010    

    p.s. You have a very good theme . Where did you see it?

  9. October 6, 2010    

    Hi i have so manu time lloking for ” These particular patterns I used can be found free at U.S. Screen Print and Inkjet Technology” i what to know if you can share that patters whit me? becouse i can not find them, pleas if you know a way to find this paterns i`ll be so thank whit you sorry about my english.

  10. November 7, 2010    

    adboe illustrator is feature packed and i love all of its great features ‘

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Hi, my name is Erin. I'm from Georgia but live in Oregon now with my family of four. I've been blessed with a daughter age 6 1/2 and nearly 4 year old son. I have been married to my husband for 8 years now.

I enjoy graphic design, all fiber arts, blogging, Photography, reading all sorts of books, crafting, exploring the great outdoors, homeschooling my children, and more!

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