Deke’s Techniques 106: Drawing a Highly Graphic Explosion

In just two days, on March 1, Adobe Illustrator turns 25 years old. (If only it wasn’t a Leap Year, the blessed event would’ve happened a day earlier!) Meanwhile, I’ve been using the program since its inception. So I guess that makes me approximately 112 years old.

This week, I celebrate Illustrator and the wider world of vector art with a technique that’ll blow you away. Quite figuratively! Because this week, I show you how to create a graphic explosion.

Here’s the official description from

Rumor is that next month, in just a few days, Adobe Illustrator turns 25 years old. To celebrate, Deke offers a free technique that uses Illustrator to make its own graphic explosion in celebration. You’ll start with some ordinary text, set in an ordinary font, and then attach eye-catching effects to it using a variety of commands from Illustrator’s Effect menu (including a bit of Transform goodness, some offset paths, and the delightfully named Pucker and Bloat). After that, Deke shows you how to fill the text and create a series of strokes around it. Like so:

The word BOOM in Adobe Illustrator

Eventually, you can save the whole slew of effects (accumulated in the Appearance panel) as a graphic style to be reused in the second phase of the movie.

To make the “explosion” part of the graphic, you’ll start with a single line segment emanating from the center of the drawing. Next, Deke shows you a super-secret way to create a random cacophony of duplicate lines. (OK, it’s all about holding down the tilde key, ~, but it’s quick and cool.) Now, you can apply the graphic style you’ve created from the text, turn off some of the options in the Appearance panel, change the fill color, and speedily apply a complementary (and no less explosive) effect to the burst of lines. The results speak for themselves . . . BOOM!

Adobe Ilustrator goes explosive

Meanwhile, the text is editable, so you can update your central message at will (depending of course on the age of your subject).

Adobe Illustrator turns 25

Happy Graphic-Explosion Birthday, Illustrator! You’ve earned it.

Next week, Deke will be back with another free technique (not to mention, a couple of variations exclusively for  members).

Oh, Illustrator, you sly dog, you. So many great programs died in your wake. FreeHand. (Well, okay, technically, you didn’t kill FreeHand. But after purchasing it twice—I long ago interviewed with the FTC on behalf of FreeHand during the time of Adobe’s first purchase, from Aldus, after which the program happily found a new home with Macromedia, only to be gobbled up once again—Adobe let it slide into the abyss.) CorelDraw. (Well, okay, CorelDraw X5 is technically still alive and available for purchase.) But Canvas. Remember Canvas? My goodness, I used to love that program.

Illustrator, you are the last vector-based drawing program standing. Something like a million of us continue to rely on you. We wish you well. Don’t let us down.

Next entry:Happy Birthday, Adobe Illustrator!

Previous entry:Deke’s Techniques 104: Creating a Vanity Frame


  • ;o)

    Happy Birthday Illu . . ;o)

    Luv ya Deke . . . ..