Create Quick Text Effects with Contours

By Steve Bain

CorelDRAW’s Interactive Contour Tool enables you to create one of the fastest text effects to dress up otherwise uninteresting characters. With just a simple-click drag action, you can apply contours to the inner areas of Artistic Text characters. Then, by adjusting the contour properties, you can manipulate the overall effect for some nifty results (as shown below).

Roll up your sleeves and let’s get started by following these brief steps:

  1. Begin by creating a single word of Artistic Text using the Text Tool (F8) at default settings. Click once on your page to specify an insertion point and enter your word.
  2. Switch to the Pick Tool (Spacebar) and with the text still selected use Property Bar options to format the text to a bold, large-sized font. In the example shown below, GlooGun was used as the font and set to a size of 150 points. Apply whichever color you wish by clicking a color well in the onscreen Color Palette to serve as the “base” color.
  3. Choose the Interactive Contour Tool and use a click-drag action to drag from the outline shape of one of the characters toward its inner shape (as shown below). A contour effect is immediately applied to all characters in your word.
  4. Next, begin to adjust the contour effect properties to suit your needs. If the contour appears course, try reducing the Contour Offset value (shown below). The smaller the offset value, the smoother the effect will appear.
  5. These 150 point GlooGun font text characters (shown below) now have an offset value of 0.01 inches to smooth out the effect.
  6. If the Offset value you entered doesn’t cause the contours to completely reach the center of the character shapes, try increasing the Contour Step value shown below.
  7. The example shown below uses a Step value of 18, meaning there are a maximum of 18 contours used to fill the smallest space in the character shapes. Contouring to the center of the characters gives the illusion of roundness to the surface of the simulated depth effect.
  8. Since one of the dominant ingredients in this effect is color, consider applying a fountain fill (linear works best) as the base color. The Contour effect supports multiple fountain fill colors. To apply a quick linear fill to your text, you’ll need to choose the Interactive Fill Tool (G) and drag across the characters (as shown below). In this case, red and yellow are used as the base colors applied to text formatted using the font Impact.
  9. Once a fountain fill is applied to your text, you can use the Interactive Contour Tool to create a contour effect within the characters. Once the contour has been applied, use the Property Bar color options to set the Fill Color and End Fountain Fill colors (shown below) to set the linear fill for each contour.
  10. In the example shown below, the original character shapes were filled with a linear fountain fill from red to yellow using the Interactive Fill Tool. After applying a contour effect to the characters, the yellow Fill Color was changed to red and the red End Fountain Fill color was changed to yellow for a “hot” color scheme.
  11. The best part of applying quick effects is that by using different fonts and color schemes, you can quickly change the nature of the effect. Since the CorelDRAW Graphics Suite includes so many different fonts, you’re limited only by your imagination. Consider trying all kinds of different fonts and color schemes to achieve the effect you need. The example shown below illustrates just four more themes to consider.

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Steve Bain is an award-winning illustrator and designer, and author of nearly a dozen books including CorelDRAW The Official Guide.


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