Just like the question says.

Here's the video. It's from a recent Progressive commercial.

Is there a way to do this, preferably in Illustrator, without drawing the outline by hand?

Image still for reference.

  • 1
    I think of this style as retro, not old fashioned. Wikipedia describes Retro style as “a style that is consciously derivative or imitative of trends, modes, fashions, or attitudes of the recent past." Old fashioned has a negative connotation. Or is it my age talking? – ispaany Jan 6 '16 at 14:30
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    I guess retro fits the shoe as well :) – Eugene Ross Jan 17 '16 at 4:02

Here's how I'd go about this:

  1. Create a text layer with your text, convert it to outline. Set it at position (0,0) (x: 0px, y: 0px).
  2. Copy-paste the outlined text and set it to position (1,1).
  3. Paste again and set to (2,2)
  4. Select pasted item one and two, copy paste again, set to (3,3).
  5. Select pasted items one through four, copy paste, set to (5,5).
  6. Repeat until you've got about 15 copies.
  7. Unite all copies (NOT the original) via Pathfinder. Set the outline to your color, set the fill to blank.
  8. Optional: Delete any inner paths you don't want.

3D outline in AI

It took me about two minutes to make. You can play around with the position shift if you're not totally happy with the result (eg shift half a pixel right and a full pixel down). Some fonts are better for this than others.

Disclaimer: As stated in the comments, there are more efficient ways to go about this. This is the most simple way though, so if you're a beginner, try to understand what is happening in this answer. Then try to understand how Vincent's, Cai's and jooja's answers make it more efficient. If you're a pro you can skip immediately to using transforms or scripting.

  • 1
    Why the -1? I hate when people downvote and don't explain. If you've got a better way, make it into an answer. – PieBie Jan 6 '16 at 9:08
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    It saves a few clicks and keyboard strokes to do the transformation with Object > Transform > Move... with Copy and then repeat that transformation (Ctrl/Cmd + D) as many times as needed. – Vincent Jan 6 '16 at 9:13
  • That is true. It'll save you about thirty seconds... – PieBie Jan 6 '16 at 9:32
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    Or you could use Object -> Blend. Then you can change the blend steps etc, without having to re-copy the objects. – Cai Jan 6 '16 at 9:55
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    All very true, but I guess my answer is the easiest to understand for an Illustrator noob. And since the OP never stated her/his level of expertise, I just assumed (s)he is a beginner. – PieBie Jan 6 '16 at 11:03

possible in Illustrator, but as it's essentially an effect emulating raster imagery (video tape) it'd be a lot easier and more practical to do this with Photoshop...especially if you use a filter designed to do exactly this.

Google the following terms along with 'filter' or 'photoshop tutorial' to find plenty of resources:

  • vhs
  • channel offset
  • video tape

The simplest thing I can think of that you may want to try in Photoshop would be:

  • open your image
  • open each RGB channel and nudge them a few pixels in different directions (to create the color offset effect)
  • save out as a highly compressed JPG a few times (to get the well-worn VHS look)
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    It's not completely clear from the question but I think he is talking about the outlined faux 3D extrude on the type. – Cai Jan 6 '16 at 7:47
  • @CaiMorris which is caused by the RGB channel information 'bleeding' and becoming offset on well worn video tape. – DA01 Jan 6 '16 at 7:58
  • Oh, wait a minute! I see what you are referring to! Yes, you may be right! If so, completely disregard this answer. :) – DA01 Jan 6 '16 at 7:59
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    I think Cai is right, but this is nice knowledge nonetheless. Would you mind making that into a question and self-answering it with this? – Vincent Jan 6 '16 at 9:15

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