Is it possible to create something like the image below in illustrator? I know in Photoshop it would be a case of rasterizing font and cutting the text and shifting it around but Photoshop is vector based and it can't be done like that. How would you go about achieving a similar effect in illustrator?

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2 Answers 2


An advantage of Illustrator here is that you can use clipping masks to chop up copies of the text while keeping it as live text - so you can continue to experiment with fonts, sizing, kerning etc even after you've started cutting it up. Using symbols and the appearance window (all explained below) lets you keep each chunk in sync.

I'd call this the 'maximum editability' approach - it uses more tools, and might look harder, but it saves time and effort in the long run: it makes it much easier to make changes, edits and variants, tweak the typography, and to play around with different ideas.

  • Create the initial text, then drag it into the Symbols window as a new symbol. This allows us to edit all the fragments of the text as one, so we can play with the typography of the chopped-up text as easily as if it wasn't chopped up.

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  • For each fragment:
    • Drag the text symbol down from the symbols window, giving you a synced copy.
    • Draw a path over this text in the shape of the fragment you want.

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  • Select the path and the text symbol, and make clipping mask (cmd-7)
  • Select the clipping mask itself with the direct selection tool (white arrow, A) and give it a fill and stroke to match the background.

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  • When you place these over the original text, they cover it giving a 'chopped out' impression. (If you need to hide more of the original than just what is coverred, give it its own spikey shaped clipping mask)
  • To change the colour of a fragment without breaking the symbol link, double-click into the clipping mask ('isolation mode'), select the symbol, and add a fill overlay using the Add New Fill button at the bottom of the Appearance window.

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  • Repeat as desired.

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  • At any time, you can change all the text everywhere at once by selecting the symbol in the symbols window, and choosing 'Edit symbol' from the flyout menu...

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  • ...then when you are done tinkering, and you exit symbol editting mode, it all updates.

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  • Since the hidden bits of each fragment are hidden, not erased, you can also very easily reshape the fragments any way you want over the original text. Enlarge the masks, and the amount of text they are 'cutting out' increases...

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This might sound long winded at first, but when you're used to these tools, it's really fast and natural. Doing things the 'maximum editablity' way allows you try out lots and lots of different ideas and variants really quickly.

Ideas being a pain to try out or edit is an enemy of creativity...

  • 1
    Nice answer!...
    – Yisela
    Jun 6, 2013 at 22:01
  • Really its cool :)
    – MK_
    Jun 7, 2013 at 5:20

It is absolutely possible to create something similar in Illustrator. After all, those are merely shapes and Illustrator excels at shape manipulation.

With the use of the Pathfinder Panel and carefully placed shapes, you could split apart text characters (after outlining them) and reposition pieces, then recolor.


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