Graphic Design / Interactive Design / Fine & Applied Arts / Parkland College

Graphic Design Exercises
Creative Type: CD Cover


To utilize type as a means of creative visual communication. To learn Illustrator and Photoshop production techniques by recreating this CD cover art designed by Evelyn Shapiro.


Text type is supposed to be invisible, designed to convey the message of the author in the most direct way possible. Reading text type should be effortless and unintrusive. However, headlines need to get attention. Creative manipulation of typographic elements to enhance the message will often be more memorable than just choosing the appropriate font. Often, this will involve creating an illustration with typographic elements. In this case, the humorous treatment of the title as skywriting helps merge the message with the photograph.


preparing for the exercise

  1. download starter files
  2. examine downloaded files
  3. open "" in Illustrator, examine layers
  4. go to "type" layer (lock others), copy type (opt-drag)
  5. type > create outlines, copy again
  6. got to "lines" layer (lock others)
  7. draw horizontal line with pen tool (click origin, shift-click end, cmd-click to deselect)
  8. stroke=1pt, color=green
  9. duplicate line (opt-shift-drag)
  10. object > transform > transform again (cmd+D); repeat
  11. reposition, resize and duplicate lines
  12. select line & type, duplicate

creating the type in Illustrator

  1. go to "dots" layer (lock others)
  2. draw one column of black dots (over letter "E")
  3. window > align: distribute vertically
  4. make 5 columns, distribute if necessary
  5. duplicate block of dots (for safe keeping)
  6. selectively delete dots to make an "E"
  7. repeat with other letters; group
  8. duplicate group of letters, draw box around letterforms
  9. duplicate box, distort box (direct select tool: move anchor points; pen tool: option-drag anchor points to pull out handles)
  10. duplicate letters with box and distorted box; select all 3 objects
  11. object > envelope distort > make with top object
  12. duplicate distorted object
  13. object > envelope distort > expand
  14. mess type up a little
  15. select type only, copy to clipboard (note: clipboard preferences must be set to "AICP: preserve shape")

fine-tuning the type in Photoshop

  1. open "trashbag.jpg" in Photoshop; save as "tashbag.psd"
  2. paste art from clipboard (as pixels), resize and position
  3. rename layer "type sharp", layer opacity=70%
  4. make type white: default colors, cmd+shift+DELETE
  5. filter > blur > motion blur (10)
  6. duplicate "type sharp" layer (hide), rename "type blur"
  7. filter > blur > motion blur (20)
  8. add layer mask
  9. draw gradient to reveal only left side of art
  10. lower layer opacity
  11. load mask as selection: cmd-click on mask thumbnail
  12. go to "sharp" layer, add layer mask
  13. invert mask (cmd+I)


  1. submit laser proof with your name on it for grading
  2. file your graded proof in your 3-ring binder

Last updated: 3/3/17 ■ Webmaster: Paul Young