Home > posts > Two Tone Text Effect in Adobe Illustrator CS3

Two Tone Text Effect in Adobe Illustrator CS3

Two tone has become very popular in graphic design recently, and for good reason. TT is a good way to give a sense of a third dimension, but still keep up clean lines. I will attempt to show you in this tutorial how I add TT to text using Adobe Illustrator CS3. This is my first tutorial…comments are welcome.

Open Adobe Illustrator and start a new document. The first thing we will want to do is select the text tool.

Adobe Illustrator Tools

Select the font face and font size you want to use. In this example I am using Arial Rounded Mt Bold with a 60 pt size.

Text Properties

Type the text you want to add TT to. Make sure the text says the right thing and is the right font, because once we apply the effect you are not able to edit the text.


Select your first color.


…and save it as a new swatch.

swatch panel

Do the same thing with your second color. Your second color will usually be a lighter or darker shade of you first color.

lighter brown

Select your text and change the fill to your lighter color and the stroke to your darker color.


Go to your swatches menu and select a colored linear gradient swatch. We will edit this gradient and save it as a swatch of our own.

select gradient swatch

Once you have selected the gradient swatch go to the gradient menu to edit the gradient.

edit gradient

The little color boxes control the gradient. You can slide them from side to side, you can double-click them to change their color, and you can drag them out of the menu to remove them. Open your swatches menu AND your gradient edit menu. If you can’t open both at the same time, drag one of the menus off the side bar. Drag your color swatches to the gradient, and remove all other color boxes.

brown gradient

slide the boxes to the middle putting one box nearly on top of the other.

two tone gradient

Save your gradient as a new swatch.

save the swatch

You can now add this TT gradient to things, but you can’t add it to text yet. In order to apply a gradient to text we have to expand it into vector shapes. To do this, select the text, and go to Object(top menu) and then click Expand. Hit OK on the dialog box, and your text will expand.


Now you can add your gradient swatch to the text.


Use the gradient tool to change how it looks in the text.

gradient tool

There you have it. Try varying it with 3 or more colors, or play with radial gradients to get a rounded line.


  1. Sash
    March 28, 2010 at 1:44 PM

    Great tutorial. Well written and very helpful. Thank you. Wish you had more. Feel free to email me if you do! 🙂

  2. rlbaxter
    March 28, 2010 at 7:55 PM

    Thanks for the feedback! I’m working on about a million different things at the moment, and would like to find some time to write more of these tutorials. Is there anything you you want to see?

  3. April 28, 2010 at 12:16 AM

    Thank you for this tutorial. I am glad I found your site. I am able to use your technique for my sign customer who wants to achieve a two tone color effect on the text for his store front sign.

  4. Brian
    April 7, 2011 at 3:11 PM

    Excellent,, thanks very much. Was trying to do this to no avail.
    This guided me through it step by step. Much appreaciated.

  5. Jhoger Guerrero
    September 4, 2012 at 6:47 PM

    Excellent tutorial, it was very helpful to me. Thanks a lot from Venezuela.

  6. July 24, 2013 at 11:02 AM

    The biggest thing was moving the gradient slides on top of each other to get a cut-color effect! Plus, making the type “expand” before, to apply the effect. Thanks a million. Couldn’t find this simple method for this effect anywhere else on the net.

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