How to simulate fill opacity with type (text) in Illustrator

As you already know from my previous post How to Use Fill Opacity in Photoshop there are some differences between Opacity and Fill sliders in Photoshop, unfortunately we do not have Fill slider in Illustrator. This doesn’t mean you can not simulate effect similar to what Photoshop have to offer.

In this tutorial I will guide you through steps how to simulate fill opacity with type but you can use same technic and with shapes. Final effect should show only stylization (layer effect in Photoshop) like Drop Shadow.
Fill opacity simulation in Adobe Illustrator
Fill opacity simulation with drop Shadow in Adobe Illustrator

Steps to simulate Fill opacity with type

First step is to type some text in Illustrator. After typing some text select it and remove fill and stroke from control panel or from Appearance panel if you prefer.
Set fill to None in Adobe Illustrator
Set fill to None in Adobe Illustrator

When fill dissapears press Esc on your keyboard to make Selection tool active and you will see bounding box around type (empty because you have removed fill and stroke). Now on Appearance panel click Add New Fill icon at bottom of panel.
Add New Fill in Adobe Illustrator

Now you have fill for type, next step is to stylize it, I will use Drop Shadow effect which is available from fx menu at bottom of Appearance panel. Since you can change everything later just accept default settings.

Next step is to add new fill above existing again using Add New Fill icon from bottom of Appearance palette. Now that you have new fill at Appearance panel active (blue color), go to Transparency panel and set Opacity to 0 (zero).
Second Fill with Opacity set to 0 (zero)
Second Fill with Opacity set to 0 (zero)

Next step is to click word Type (to select group- Illustrator treats text as group) just below Appearance header and after that go to Transparency panel again and click in square in front of Knockout Group- you will need to click twice to get checkmark, don’t get confused.
Knockout Group in Adobe Illustrator
Knockout Group in Adobe Illustrator

This will knocks out fill below so you can see through, actualy you will see background and drop shadow effect will be still visible and that’s point to simulate Photoshop Fill Opacity.

At this point you can do couple of things for example to change drop shadow color and to play with X and Y offset to move that destructive see through which will actualy contour letters. In this example I changed color to cyan, blend mode to normal and X and Y offsets to 17 and 57 points.
Change settings for Drop Shadow in Illustrator
Change settings for Drop Shadow in Illustrator

One last note: type or text is still editable so you can change it at any time.
Text is still editable, so you can change it at any time
Text is still editable, so you can change it at any time
Reference:
Illustrator / Transparency and blending modes

Product used in this tutorial: Adobe Illustrator CS5

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