Creating overlapping, punched out text in Adobe Illustrator CS4

I was designing a brochure in Illustrator CS4 recently and wanted to create this effect but couldn’t find anything on the Internet that showed me how to do it. I ended up figuring it out myself so thought I would share how I did it. It may not be the most efficient way, but I got the effect I was going for!

1. Create the shape and the text you want to overlap and make two copies of each. I’ve just put this on a grey background so the text shows up for demonstration purposes.

For now, hide the copies of the shape and text that are lower down the list of layers by clicking on the eye symbol next to the layer you wish to hide.

N.B. When pasting, hold down Ctrl+F to paste in place.

2. Create outlines of the top text layer by right clicking on it and selecting “Create Outlines” from the drop-down.

It should then look like this.

Next, select the top text layer (which is now in outlines) and the top shape.

Find the “Pathfinder” window. If it is not already visible, click “Window” in the top toolbar and select “Pathfinder” or simply just hold down Shift+Ctrl+F9 to open it up. Now click the “minus front” button which looks like this  .

3. You should now be left with three layers. Hide top layer but you can now show the other two. Ensure the text layer is above the shape layer in the layers panel.

Right click text to create outlines then ungroup by right clicking again and selecting “Ungroup”.

Select and delete all letters that fall entirely within the shape; in this case – E R L A P P I. Keep any letters that overlap with both the shape and the background (V and N).

4. Now is a good time to reverse the colours of the letters and the shape. In this case I have made my letters blue and changed the colour of the shape to white. Now bring the shape in front of the remaining text and make another copy of it.

Select one copy of the shape and then the letter V. This can be done while holding down Shift while you select the two objects. Again, use the pathfinder window to “minus” the front layer. Do the same with the N.

5. You will now be left with two letters that look like they each have a scoop taken out of them!

Unhide the blue shape (top layer) and you can see effect take shape.

Select all and group by holding down Ctrl+G.

6. Finally, set the shadow effect. In the top menu bar click “Effect” and scroll down to “Stylize”, select “Drop Shadow” and an options box will open.

You can set the shadow size, opacity and position in this box. Make sure “Preview” is selected so you can see how the shadow looks before clicking “OK”.

7. You now have a shape with overlapping, contrasting text. When saving, ensure you save on a transparent background so that you can see the through the punched out text on the shape.