Interlocking Text in Illustrator

    ●   It is a simple thing to make letters look like they are behind or in front of each other.

    ●   The trick is to match the colors and use the Pathfinder tool to isolate the shapes.

Learn About:

Type Tool Creating Outlines Pathfinder Effects Eyedropper Tool

  •   This tutorial is part of the Make a Scene and Design your Identity Projects.

Other People's Work:

Here are examples of work inspired by this tutorial.

lizard example example 2 sunburst example interlocking text

Step #1: Open your Work in Illustrator ~

Open YOUR PROJECT in Illustrator …


… (Remember: all these tutorials are intended to be
applied to YOUR PROJECT) …


As always, make a New Layer and lock your others.




If don't have an Illustrator project you are working on, or you are working on a webpage header, open a New Document in Illustrator the size of the image you copied.


Step #2: Draw a Box with the Text Tool ~

Get the Type Tool or hit the keyboard shortcut letter (t) …

text tool

… draw a box.

Type some text you can use in your project …

Select your Font, Size and Colo r in the menu bar.

Step #3: Create Outlines ~

Get the Selection Tool or hit the keyboard shortcut letter (v) …

… go to: Type > Create Outlines



… or hit the keyboard shortcut:

shift key+ +



… but however you do it, be sure to ALWAYS create outlines of your text.


Step #4: Ungroup ~

Go to: Object > Ungroup or Right-Click and select Ungroup.

Step #5: Color ~

Select the first letter with the Selection Tool selection tool

select the individual letter

… click the Swatches icon or go to: Window > Swatches

… and change the color. Do this for each Lette r.

Step #6: Fill Colors ~

Now move the letters around with the Selection Tool (V) in the way you want them to interlock.

Step #7: Pathfinder ~

Select all the text with Selection Tool and go to: Window > Pathfinder and click Divide

Step #8: Direct Selection Tool ~

Get the Direct Selection Tool or hit the keyboard shortcut letter (a) …

direct selection tool

… select a part of the text with that overlaps …

… then get the  Eyedropper Tool by hitting the keyboard shortcult letter (i) and click on the fill color of the text that that you want to be overlapped or matched.

And, repeat untill all the text you want is interlocked or interconnected …

Keep selecting sections that overlap and changing the corors accordingly.

Step #9: Effects ~

Select everything by hitting Cmd (⌘) +A and go to: Effect > Stylize > Drop Shadow

Try the other Effects Too! Experiment! Take a risk!

Last Step: Save your Project and Attach ~

Go to: File > Save as … and save your work as - FIRST_NAME_LAST_NAME_PROJECT_NAME.ai]

Attach it!

  •   ALWAYS save your projects like this:


  •   DO NOT name your project any other way - Improperly named projects will not receive credit and you will be sad.


  •   NEVER leave your work on the desktop or depend on a flash drive - instead, save your work in a folder you can find later - preferably on a virtual drive where it can be backed up.