I promise this tutorial will be better than my last one. The goal is similar but the technique is better. Getting shiny effects in Illustrator was nearly impossible at one point, but this tutorial will show you how to get this great dynamic, effect in minutes.
Here is a sample of the technique and the final product of this tutorial.
We'll work on text since it has enough complex forms to cover all aspects of this effect. I'm working on a basic RGB document at 800x600. RGB mode will help on blending modes in another step.
First step is to pick a font. It would be better to pick a font that is bold, simple, and geometric. I am using Helvetica Black for this and a 5 to demonstrate. Make it big, too.
Good so far. Expand the text (Object > Expand). The text has been converted to vector outlines. With the object still selected Copy (Ctrl+C) and Paste it in the Back (Ctrl+B). Assuming Fill color is black and Stroke is none, push Shift+X to swap colors. The selected object should now have a stroke of 1. This step will add a stroke to the overall text to improve contrast in the final product. I gave it an 8 point outer stroke.
Now with the original shape on your clipboard, click off and Paste in Front (Ctrl+F). We'll make the inner stroke now. Shift+X again and switch the Stroke color to white. Make a thick inner stroke probably as thick as the black outer stroke. This will become the inner shine.
With the inner stroke selected, go to Object > Expand Appearance. This makes the inner stroke a vector outline and it is exactly what we'll need for the next step. Deselect the object. Under View, make sure Smart Guides are on and Snap to Grid is off. Select the Pen Tool and set no fill and a random Stroke color. Zoom in really close to the top-left corner. With the Pen Tool selected, hover over the top-left corner of the white stroke. It should say "anchor".
Click here and move the cursor over to the next corner below. Again, wait for the guide to say "anchor". Click and it should make a straight line from corner to corner.
Deselect it and move on to the next corner. You can deselect by holding the Control key and clicking off the shape.
Repeat this for all corners. We should have something like this now:
Select one of the paths you just made. On the top menu, go to Select > Same > Stroke Color. All the lines you just made are selected. With the objects selected, Shift+Click the white inner stroke. Open the Pathfinder Panel (Window > Pathfinder) and under the Pathfinders group, select Divide. It's the first icon on the bottom. It should look like this now.
Now we can make the gradients. Draw 2 rectangles and make 2 gradients: one highlight and one low-light gradient. The gradients I used are in the source file.
Select the inner stroke we just cut up. With the gradient panel open, click on the gradient to apply it to all objects in the group. This makes every segment have the same gradient in the same direction. You should go in there and manually adjust the gradient angle and use the low-light gradient to mildly suggest light direction. Play around with it and you should get something like this:
It looks really nice already. We can go further though. If you would like, follow this.
You should still have the original shape underneath the gradients. Click on a gradient, right-click and go to Select. Pick Next Object Below. If the fill is black, it's the correct object. Pick one of the simple linear gradients. Select the top-most gradient of the object and change its blending mode to Overlay.
It boosts the contrast. Select the top-most gradient and move it to the top (Ctrl+Shift+]). Go to the Appearance Panel which should be docked on the right by default. Add a white inner stroke and a black outer stroke. They should be on Overlay and enhance edge contrast.
Select the original shape on the bottom again and paste it in front of everything. Copy these appearance settings and set it to Overlay.
That's it! This is how it could look like after the final step.
You may download the sample file I used for this tutorial.
It's really simple. Get creative. Create interesting, dynamic designs.
Got questions or comments? Please leave them below.