Creating GEL Text
The Mac® OS X GEL look is still hot even though it was introduced quite
some time ago. Creating GEL buttons has already been covered here and
covered very well so I thought it would be fun to see if we could create
the GEL look in text. Before we get started, however, we need to set a
few common parameters. I will be using CorelDRAW® 11 and so some features
may be different or may have migrated to different menus, as they often
do between versions of CorelDRAW.
As I am creating this tutorial to be seen on the Web, I am going to use
Corel's RGB palette, which many of you will remember was the default palette
before version 7. The colors are brighter and will produce a better looking
(Figure 1) In the Tools drop down menu, select Color Management… From
the Style drop down list, select Optimized for the Web. This sets the
color space to RGB.
(Figure 2) From the Layout menu, select Page Setup… In the Page Setup
dialog, change the Resolution to 96 dpi (Windows®) or 72 dpi (Macintosh®).
These two settings are screen resolution and are the proper 1:1 resolution
for viewing on the Web. Even if you plan to output your image for commercial
printing, use these two settings to avoid confusion. You can change the
resolution before you output your files.
For this tutorial we shall create a GEL symbol for the at character (@).
As CorelDRAWing this symbol is a lot harder than it looks, we'll use an
Avant Garde @ symbol for a guide.
(Figure 3) Using the Text Tool, click on the page and key in @ in Avant
Garde (the CorelDRAW default font). On the Property Bar, change the size
to 130 and press Enter to apply the change.
(Figure 4) Press and hold the Freehand Tool to open the Curve Flyout menu.
Select the Pen Tool (the fourth from the right). Click and add a series
of connected lines as shown here in red. The idea is to place each anchor
point in-between the outlines of the @ and to place the control points
on logical points from which to create curved line segments. When you
have clicked the last control point, double click to let CorelDRAW know
you are finished.
(Figure 5) Select the Shape Tool. Click on the outline to select it. Marquee
select all the control points by dragging a rectangle around all the points
with the Shape Tool. On the Property Bar (the context-sensitive menu at
the top of the screen) press the Convert Line to Curve icon. Drag a line
segment and pull it like a rubber band until it more or less conforms
to the shape of the @ symbol.
(Figure 6) Continue until all the line segments are now gently curves
and more or less follow the shape of the @.
(Figure 7) We can fine tune the control points by adjusting the Bezier
control handles. Select the outline with the Shape Tool. Click on a control
point. Note that two lines with small boxes on the ends appear coming
out of each side of the point. These are Bezier control handles with which
we can adjust the segments of the outline. You can drag these in or out
to make the curve segment longer or shorter and you can rotate them to
adjust the angle of the curve segment. Experiment until you get the curve
as smooth as possible. The smoothest curves will have both Bezier handles
in a straight line. The angle of the handles will also be more or less
parallel to the curve.
TIP: Moving the handles can be tricky and inexact if you are not real
comfortable using the mouse. Zoom in close. Select a point and then use
the arrow keys on your key pad to move the handles. You may also need
to set the nudge amount on the Property Bar to 1px. (CorelDRAW's default
idea of a nudge is sometimes closer to a shove)!
(Figure 8) You might need an extra control point at the top of the "a"
shape. Double click with the Shape Tool to add the point. Continue to
fine tune the shape until you have gotten it as close to the shape of
the @ symbol as possible. Name and save your CorelDRAWing and take a short
(Figure 9) Delete the Avant Garde @ symbol. Select the outline. Click
and hold on the Outline Tool to open the Outline Flyout. Select the Outline
Pen options (the first icon). Change the line width to 16 points. Click
the two middle Corner and Line Caps radio buttons to round the ends and
the corners. Press OK.
With the outline still selected, select Convert Outline to Object from
the Arrange menu.
(Figure 10). From the View menu, select Wireframe or Simple Wireframe.
You will notice the original outline has been left behind. As we don't
need it anymore, delete it. Return to the View menu and select Enhanced
to return to the anti-aliased display mode.
(Figure 11) Select the Interactive Fill Tool icon. From the drop down
list of Fill Types on the Property Bar, select Conical. The Interactive
Conical Fill controls will appear on the screen. You can drag the ends
of the fill path to rotate the fill. You can also double click on the
circular portion of the fill path to add more colors. For what we are
going to do, just leave everything as is. Click the white box at the end
of the fill path, then click the red color on the screen palette. Repeat
this for the other end so you now have a red to red conical fill. To the
left of the Fill Type drop down list is the Edit Fill icon. Click it to
open the Fountain Fill dialog. Select the counter clockwise fill option
(indicated with the red ellipse) and press OK to apply the change.
(Figure 12) Make two copies of the rainbow filled shape and set them to
one side. We'll need them later on. Change the fill of the original @
to black by selecting the shape then pressing the black color on the screen
palette. You can also drag and drop colors from the screen palette onto
Press and hold the Interactive Tool icon to open the Interactive Tools
Flyout menu. Select the Contour Tool (the nested squares). If the shape
is not selected, select it with the Contour Tool. On the Property Bar
press the To Center icon. Change the Contour Offset amount to 1pix.
NOTE: Your shape may have an unfortunate wedge going though it. Mine did.
If yours does not then skip this part. Select the shape and from the Arrange
menu, select Break Curve Apart. Now marquee select the entire shape. The
status bar at the bottom of the screen will tell you how many shapes are
selected. You should only have 2. If it shows more, cut the counter (the
inside of the "a" shape) to the clipboard (Edit > Cut). Marquee select
most of but not all of the shape. If you see a small portion selected,
delete it. Paste the shape from the clipboard back onto the shape, select
both and from the Arrange menu, select Combine. Your contour should now
(Figure 13) Select the contour with the Pick Tool (the arrow). Open the
Bitmaps menu and select Convert to Bitmap. Use the settings shown above.
Press OK to create the bitmap.
(Figure 14) Center the bitmap over the rainbow-filled @ shape. Open the
Interactive Tools Flyout menu and select the Transparency Tool (the wineglass
icon). From the Property Bar, select Uniform (the default) and from the
Transparency Operation drop down list, select Subtract. Change the slider
setting to 30%.
(Figure 15) Select both the rainbow-filled shape and the transparent bitmap.
Convert these two items to bitmap (Bitmaps menu) using the settings shown).
(Figure 16) Locate one of the duplicate @ shapes which I asked you to
set aside. Change the fill to white and apply a black outline. Apply a
1-step, To Inside contour with a 4pix offset amount.
From the Arrange menu, select Break Contour Group Apart. Open the Arrange
menu again and select Ungroup. Delete the wider shape (shown in dashed
(Figure 17) With the shape selected, press the + key to make an in-place
duplicate. Move the duplicate 12 pixels to the right and 12 pixels down.
TIP: With nothing selected, change the Nudge amount on the Property bar
to 1px. Now use the arrow keys on your computer keypad to move the duplicate
shape the precise amount. (You could also set the nudge amount to 12px.
Just remember to set it back to a lower amount when you are done).
(Figure 18) Select both shapes and then press the Trim icon on the Property
Bar. The cutter shape remains and while nothing seems to have changed,
if you drag the underneath shape away, you'll see the top shape has been
trimmed out of the bottom shape as shown in blue.
(Figure 19) Duplicate the whole shape by pressing the + key. Move the
duplicate shape up and to the left 12 pixels in each direction.
(Figure 20) Select the trimmed out shape and cut it to the clipboard (Edit
> Cut). Select the two shapes. On the Property Bar, press Back Minus
Front. This is a new path command that does the same function as Trim
except it removes the top, or trimmer shape. Paste the shape we just cut
to the clipboard back onto the page (Edit > Paste). Save your work
and take a short eye break.
(Figure 21) Position the two cutout shapes as shown. Select the top shape
and then select the Interactive Fill Tool. From the drop down menu on
the Property Bar, select Conical. Make the starting and ending colors
Baby Blue. Click the Edit Fill icon which is just to the left of the drop
down list of Fill Types, to open the Fountain Fill dialog. Click the Clockwise
Fill icon and press OK to close the dialog.
TIP: If you let the cursor rest for a moment over the color squares on
the screen palette (or any of the buttons and icons), the color name,
or tool or button name, will appear in a balloon under the cursor.
Select the bottom shape and repeat this step except use Spring Green for
the start and end colors. The idea here is to create two rainbow gradients,
one lighter and one slightly darker which we will use for highlights and
(Figure 22) Position the top highlight shape over the bitmap as shown.
With the highlight shape selected, select Break Curve Apart from the Arrange
menu. You will now have a series of separate shapes.
(Figure 23) Using the Freehand or the Pen Tool, CorelDRAW
a single diagonal line through the bitmap image as shown. Select the
top left most shape. Select the Interactive Transparency Tool and from
the drop down list of Transparency Types, pick Circular. Select Add
from the Transparency Operations drop down list. Drag the dashed arrow
portion of the fill until the center of the circle is over the area
where the diagonal line passes though the top of the @ shape. Click
on the outside color, which is now white and change this to black by
clicking the black square on the screen palette. Click on the inside
color square and change the black to white. We have just made the center
opaque and the outside transparent which is the opposite of the default
NOTE: Black represents 100% transparency and white represents 0% or
no transparency. You can also click the start or ending square and move
the slider on the Property Bar to adjust the amount of transparency.
Shades of gray represent various amounts of transparency.
(Figure 24) Select the next shape (directly over the "a"). From the Effects
menu, select Copy Effect… Lens From… A large black arrow cursor will appear.
Click the first highlight shape to which you applied transparency. Adjust
the transparency so the lightest portion is centered on the red diagonal
line and the diameter is similar in size to the first circular transparency.
(Figure 25) Repeat this last step and copy the lens effect to the other
shapes. When you are finished, select all the highlight elements and group
(Figure 26) Position the bottom shape, which we will call the reflection,
as shown. Break the Curve Apart. Apply a Circular, Multiply transparency
reversing the starting and ending transparency percentages and centering
the darkest portion of the circular transparency on the red diagonal line.
(Figure 27) Copy the lens effect to the other shapes and adjust the center
and diameter of the transparency. Group all the reflection elements. Save
your work and take a short eye break. We're almost done.
(Figure 28) Locate the other duplicate you made of the vector @ shape.
CorelDRAW a rectangle around the @ to the size shown. Set the fill and
outline to none.
Select both the rectangle and the rainbow-filled @. Convert these to Bitmap
but do not select the Transparent Background option.
(Figure 29) With the bitmap selected, select Bitmaps > Blur > Gaussian.
Apply a 7 pixel Gaussian Blur.
(Figure 30) Position the blurred bitmap over the other elements. Apply
a Uniform, Subtract 50% Transparency. Move the blurred bitmap until the
shape appears to the right and down from the shapes beneath it.
If the @ were indeed filled with rainbow-colored GEL and we placed the
@ on a white sheet of paper and let light shine though it, we would get
the same diffused color effect as we have achieved by placing the transparent
blurred bitmap on top.
And that's all there is too it.