Echo your message and make it resonate with a repeating pattern. Learn how to duplicate, reshape, and add a wave to some text to create a stylish typographic poster in Adobe Illustrator.

Headshot of Erica Larson on a black background looking left and standing behind a silver mylar balloon.

My name is Erica Larson. As a creative director at Adobe, I get to dream up inspired designs every day. I hope the stuff I make gets you dreaming too.

Before you start.
Grab my starting document so you can use it to practice these steps. To work with this file, click Copy to Your Work and then open it in Illustrator.

Step 1: Shape up the text.
Before you customize the text, you first need to convert it to a shape. Choose the Selection tool, click the word SOUNDWAVE, and turn the type into outlines. Click anywhere in the background area to deselect the word when you are done.

White ‘SOUNDWAVE’ text is on a black background and surrounded by a red box. Type > Create Outlines menu is selected.

Step 2: Frame it.
Swap the colors so the Fill is set to none and the Stroke is white. Select the Rectangle tool and drag across the word SOUNDWAVE to create a frame for the grid you’ll create next.

The Rectangle tool shows on the left, fill color is none, stroke is white, and a white rectangle appears around ‘SOUNDWAVE’.

Step 3: Keep it on the grid.
Create a grid to serve as a guide to slice up the text design. With the rectangle still selected, split it into a grid with 10 rows and 1 column.

Object > Path > Split into Grid menu and Split into grid dialog has 10 rows, 1 column. ‘SOUNDWAVE’ has 10 lines across it.

Step 4: Divide it up.
Drag the Selection tool across the word SOUNDWAVE and the grid. Open the Pathfinder panel (Window > Pathfinder) and click Divide.

‘SOUNDWAVE’ has a blue grid and is outlined in red. The Pathfinder panel shows the ‘Divide’ option is selected.

Step 5: Define the lines.
Make sure the text and grid are still selected and then ungroup the object. Select the Magic Wand tool, click directly on one of the grid lines, and press the Delete key.

Magic Wand is upper left, ‘SOUNDWAVE’ has a blue grid and red bounding box. Object > Ungroup menu is upper right.

Step 6: See it clearly.
Show the grid lines by switching to Outline mode.

‘SOUNDWAVE’ appears on a white background with a black outline and grid. View > Outline menu displays upper right.

Step 7: Repeat a pattern.
Create repeating variations of the word art by duplicating and trimming each new instance. To do this, choose the Selection tool and drag across the word. Keeping the word selected, hold Alt (Windows) or Option (macOS) as you drag to move a duplicate above the original.

Drag to select a small portion from the bottom of the newly duplicated word and press Delete. Drag again to select the new variation and use your mouse or arrow keys to adjust the spacing between it and the previous one. Repeat these steps until the pattern fills your canvas.

Full-size design with repeating variations of the word ‘SOUNDWAVE’ is behind a smaller subset showing the Selection tool.

Step 8: Make it whole.
Prep the repeating pattern so it can be modified as a single design. Switch to Preview mode and use the Selection tool to select all instances of the word art. Then click the Unite shape mode in the Pathfinder panel.

Repeating pattern of ‘SOUNDWAVE’ in white text on black background, View > Preview menu, and Pathfinder shows Unite option.

Step 9: Create some waves.
Let your message flow. With the type still selected, apply a Wave effect and adjust its properties to get the look you want.

Repeating pattern of ‘SOUNDWAVE’ has wave effect, Effect > Warp > Wave options show a horizontal wave with a 25% bend.

Step 10: Draw their attention.
Accent the type with a gradient. Draw a rectangle across the entire poster, open the Gradient panel, and click the Freeform Gradient icon. To customize the gradient, click a color stop on the rectangle, double-click the fill color in the Gradient panel, and choose a new color from the Color Picker. Repeat this process to customize each color stop in the gradient.

Yellow, orange, and red gradient swatch is left. Gradient panel shows Freeform option selected and Color Picker shows red.

Step 11: Color your message.
Blend the gradient with the type design. With the rectangle still selected, click the Opacity label in the Properties panel, and then set the Blend mode to Darken. If the blend modes are grayed out, make sure to choose the Selection tool from the toolbar and try again.

Gradient appears behind word pattern and the Properties panel shows Opacity label selected and Blend Mode set to Darken.

Note: Project files included with this tutorial are for practice purposes only.

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