How to Create Candy Cane Typography with Photoshop and Illustrator

In this tutorial we will create a superb candy cane type design using Illustrator and Photoshop. Apply this effect to your own text and create cool and unique Christmas cards!
Along with creating this, you will learn how to:

– create advanced vector pattern brushes
– customize blending modes in Photoshop
– create shading and lighting
– retouch photos to fit the same scenario
– create backgrounds for your image
– use adjustment layers

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Difficulty: Intermediate – Advanced
Completion time: 1 hour
Tools: Illustrator CS3, Photoshop CS3


paper texture from bashcorpo

Candy Cane Typography Final Image


Open Illustrator and create a new document of “Letter” setting in CMYK color mode at 72 dpi.


Grab the Rectangle Tool (M) and draw a gray rectangle like below.


Draw another rectangle, but make it a lot thinner than the previous. Also change its color to red or another color contrasting the first.


Grab the Selection Tool (V) and rotate the second rectangle. You don’t have to be very precise with it, just follow your artistic sense.


Hold the ALT key and click-drag the red rectangle to the right. Hold SHIFT key while dragging to move it orthogonally.


Hit CTRL+D three times. This will duplicate your last command input – in this case, copying a shape.


Select the gray rectangle lengthen it a bit, copy it (CTRL+C) and paste it to front (CTRL+F). Hit CTRL+SHIFT+] to bring it in front of the other shapes.


Remove its Fill, select all the red rectangles and right-click > Make Clipping Mask. Select all artwork (CTRL+A)  and hit the Merge button. Then paste in front a copy of the merged shape (CTRL+C > CTRL+F). Grab the Eraser Tool (SHIFT+E), hold the ALT key and erase the left side, along with a part of the red stripe.


Move the copied shape to the right until the first red stripe aligns with the second stripe from the shape below it. Reduce Opacity to see it better. Now select the shape above and set its Fill color to black.


Grab the Selection Tool (V), select the black rectangle, hold the ALT key and click-drag the middle distortion point, like below.


In the Pathfinder window (Window > Pathfinder), click the Merge button. Then select all artwork and hit Merge again. Grab the Direct Selection Tool (A), select the black rectangle and hit Delete.


Select all artwork and click-drag it into the Brushes palette (F7) Set it to “Pattern Brush”. Grab the Path Tool (P) and draw a long straight path. Then click the brush you just created. This is a good way to check if your pattern is correct.


Click the Grab the Ellipse Tool (L) and draw a circle. Hold the SHIFT key while click-dragging to make it perfect.


Click the rectangular shape and copy the Height value from the top menu bar. Select the circle and paste this value to Width and Height.


Select both shapes and align them to horizontal axis. CTRL+click near the design to deselect, then grab the Direct Selection Tool (A) and select the left side anchorpoint of the circle and hit Delete. Align


Grab the Selection Tool (V) and align the resulting shape like in the image below. Slect the rectangle and ALT+click-drag to create a copy. Realign the copy with its original, just like in STEP 9.


Select the half-circle, remove its Fill, hold SHIFT and click the rectangle behind it. Now right-click > Make Clipping Mask. In the Pathfinder window (Window > Pathfinder), click the Merge button.


Open the Swatches palette (Window > Swatches) and click-drag the resulting shape into the palette. Name this “candy-end”. In the Brushes palette (F5), select our brush. Make sure you have everything deselected (CTRL+click in a blank area).


Open the dropdown menu and select Options. Click the last box and select “candy-end” from the list. Hit OK. Select the practice path and click the brush again. See how it looks.


Do the same for the other end of the path.


Now that we have a candy-like pattern brush, lets create the text. I used “Giddyup Std” font as reference. Grab the Horizontal Type Tool (T) and type the text below. Use multiple rows.


Select all text and go to Object > Expand, then go to Object > Path > Clean up.


In the Layers palette (F7), click the “Create New Layer” button and lock the layer below it. Select the newly created layer.


Grab the path tool and trace the text, but do not follow it entirely, feel free to connect words, add loops and cool knots. When you’re done tracing, select all these paths. Get creative!

NOTE: If you want to change colors, simply go to the shapes created, change their colors and create a new brush. My color choice was light gray with pink. The black background if for the pics to be more clear, adding this is not compulsory.


Go to Object Expand Appearance, then go to the Pathfinder window and hit “Merge”, then go to  Object > Path > Clean up.


Open Photoshop and go to File > New to create a new document of 1600 x 2300 px in RGB color mode at 72 dpi.


Grab the Gradient Tool (G) and apply the gradient shown below to the background layer.


Click-drag the vector text from Illustrator to Photoshop resize it a bit and hit enter. Right-click near the layer thumb, select “Rasterize Layer”, then click the “fx” button and select Blending Options. Use the settings below.


Create a new layer (CTRL+SHIFT+N), set Blending mode to Multiply, grab the Brush Tool (B), set Hardness to 0% and remove any extra setting from the Brushes palette and paint some shadows to give it a more 3D look. Use a dark purple color.

Tip: CTRL+click the text layer and go to Layer > Layer Mask > Reveal All.


Create a new layer (CTRL+SHIFT+N) and place it below the text layer, grab the Brush Tool (B), set Hardness to 0% and remove any extra setting from the Brushes palette and paint some shadows, as if parts of the text bend away from the wall.


Open the “paper texture”. Select all (CTRL+A), copy it (CTRL+C) and paste it into our document (CTRL+V).Place the layer above the background layer. Resize it to fit the canvas and hit Enter. Set Blending mode to Multiply.


Go to Layer > New Fill Layer > Solid color… and Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Color Balance, Black & White. Use the settings below for each.


Select all artwork (CTRL+A, copy merged (CTRL+SHIFT+C)  and paste it. Go to Filter > Sharpen > Unsharp Mask. Hit OK.


Download the source file from below and see it for yourself !

  Candy cane type tutorial (unknown, 4,989 hits)

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147 Comments How to Create Candy Cane Typography with Photoshop and Illustrator

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  5. bemnet Jan 10, 2013 at 13:50

    it is a great tutorial thanks man really loved it

  6. Maham Feb 17, 2013 at 07:41

    I got to step24 but when I don’t know what the path tracer tool is. I have cs6 and i tried using the pen tool but my corners are terrible. It keeps stopping every time i make a corner. I don’t know what I’m doing wrong but my tracing looks so choppy and not smooth at all. Please help me. :(

    1. Doink Feb 20, 2013 at 15:21

      The Path Tool (P) allows you to draw a spine to apply the brush to. It works like this: Start with a click, then click-drag to create a round corner. If you only click, it will create a “corner” point, with no handles to control the curve.

      If you want to convert an anchorpoint to “corner” or “smooth”, use the Direct Selection Tool (A): select the anchorpoint (it will look like a filled small square), then click the “convert to smooth” button – it’s in the top left corner, right below the menu. Can’t miss it. Tell me if this helps.

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  11. Januponsa Dio Firizqi May 31, 2013 at 21:11

    I can’t understand in step 9. please help me

    1. Doink Jun 4, 2013 at 10:57

      The first red stripe must overlap the second red stripe. This helps you make the pattern brush look seamless.

      1. Januponsa Dio Firizqi Jun 5, 2013 at 19:42

        i’ve still confused about this command “Move the copied shape to the right until the first red stripe aligns with the second stripe from the shape below it. Reduce Opacity to see it better. Now select the shape above and set its Fill color to black” and can’t continued to next step .
        sorry if you confused about what i mind because i can’t speak english very well hehe

  12. Mittel gegen Nagelpilznagelpilz Jul 4, 2013 at 21:37

    Heya i am for the primary time here. I found this board and I to find It really useful & it helped me out a lot.
    I hope to present one thing again and aid others like
    you aided me.

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  15. Cubes-IT Aug 5, 2013 at 13:12

    Very Nice Graphic Design

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  19. MAE Dec 16, 2013 at 13:24

    I have a small problem in step 12, the brush tip option is not visible. What is the error?

    1. MAE Dec 16, 2013 at 13:34

      oh it’s ok!! sorry

  20. Ksenia Dec 18, 2013 at 03:58

    Thanks it’s a very detailed, nice subject and beautiful art

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  25. Marcos Jul 10, 2014 at 23:55

    anyone seen this tutorial video lesson? ‘m from Brazil and to accompany this tutorial in English even translated by google’s not, please if anyone has a link to video I would be very grateful

  26. Dana Jul 15, 2014 at 21:44

    Hi there! Loving this tutorial, so far the results are awesome! However, I’ve gotten as far as creating my first pattern brush, and then creating the rounded end. However, at Step 19, my “candy end” brush isn’t in the list. I only have None, Original, Foliage & Pompadour. Using Illustrator CS6 – can anyone help me?

  27. fifi Oct 25, 2015 at 13:03

    Where can i download the illustrator file?

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