Need vectors for a project?
We’ve curated images for every occasion. Find your perfect shots now.
View Collections

How to Drop Caps in Illustrator

Artists love to show off their individual design chops and prowess, and one of the best ways to do that is by dropping caps. This is a process that basically lets you create your own custom typeface letter by letter, and it can be used in font creation or as an individual project to create a brilliant and colorful design based off a single letter.
Getting Started
The fist step when learning how to drop caps in illustrator is to create a large version of the letter you want to work on. Create a new document and make the letter. Make the size large enough that you can easily see the entire thing and work on it. The first thing you need to do with it is to convert it into an outline. Right-click and choose Create Outlines from the menu, or press command-shift-O to use the keyboard shortcut.
Using the Offset Path
The next thing we will due is use the Offset Path tool. This will be used a lot in this kind of work, and multiple times per project. Go to Object > Path > Offset Path to bring up the menu, then put in 5 px just to start with. Give the shape a white fill. This will create a larger outline in white around the original letter.
Next, use the same command again, but make the outline 2px and give it a black fill. Then, select Ungroup by right clicking and finding it on the menu to make it so you can move all three outlines independently.
Creating the Shape
Copy and move the background shape to position it, then create a duplicate and move it slightly between the space of the new placement and the original background. Then repeat the process. Select Blend from the Make menu and set many steps so you get a smooth transition, then let the objects blending together create the effect you are looking for.
Use Object > Expand to permanently make this blend into a series of shapes. Then go to the Pathfinder panel and use the Unite command to bring them all back into one shape. Finally, go into Offset Path and enter a negative figure to create an inverse outline that will allow you to put negative space in the interior.
This is the simplest method of learning how to make drop caps in Illustrator, but once you have the hang of it, you can do whatever you want to embellish your designs. All you have to do is keep adding new spaces and creating new graphic effects and patterns as you do. Add these dropped caps to your stock art from Shutterstock to make great public-facing graphic designs for your business.
  • Was this article helpful?

Can’t find what you’re looking for?