Recently, I shared with you how to alter a design, usually a word, so that there were empty rectangular spaces across it in increasing widths. If you didn’t see that tutorial, you can find it here. Today, I want to show you how to create a knockout design using the same technique.
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This time, instead of leaving blank spaces I’ll show you how to use rectangles of a different color.
Step #1: Add the text or design
Step #2: Add the rectangles
And here I’ve created my rectangles in graduated sizes.
Notice that you can see through my rectangles to the word. I did that by raising the transparency in the Fill panel.
That helps me in 2 ways:
- It helps me to see all parts of the word. That way I can make sure my rectangles are falling just where I want them.
- It allows me to visualize what the knockout is going to look like. You’ll understand that more as we continue.
At this point, make a copy for safekeeping if you like and pull it off to the side. Group the word and the rectangles in your copy. We are going to use a Modify tool again, and that means the text will become image. You’ll no longer be able to change the word or the font, or even figure out what the font is. Another option is to create a sticky note with the information.
Step #3: Make compound paths
For the next part, we’re going to use a Modify option that is technically limited to 8 shapes at a time. If you have more than that, then it can take a much longer time or even freeze or crash the software, depending on your computer. I’ve got a word with 5 letters and 7 rectangles. That makes 12 pieces. I can make things go faster pretty easily.
First, select the word or design and choose Make Compound Path in your Object drop down menu or the right click menu. Repeat that with the set of rectangles. You now have only 2 pieces, so that will work with the Modify option we’re choosing.
Make sure your rectangles are in front, as that makes the next step easier.
Step #4: Divide to create the knockout
Last time, we used Subtract All. The rectangles cut holes in the word/design and then went away. This time, we want to keep part of them, but only the part that’s overlapping the letters. We’ll use Divide instead.
Divide takes all your selected shapes and creates separate pieces anywhere there’s an overlap. What it will do here is to make cuts in the rectangles where the outer edges of the words are. Here’s mine after I divided.
I know, that looks like a hot mess, but it’s done just what we needed. It separated the parts of the rectangle that fall outside the word from the parts that cover it.
Step #5: Remove what you don’t need
Remember how I said in Step #2 that the raised transparency helps us visualize the outcome? Here’s what I meant by that. After we Divide, we’re left with 3 types of pieces depending on their original colors: what was pure black, what was pure yellow and what was a combination of yellow over black.
The parts I want to keep are the first and third. I’m going to delete everything that was originally the second. That’s every part of every rectangle that falls OUTSIDE the word/design or INSIDE what would be the holes in it. Because we had the rectangles in front, they kept their fill color. Here I’ve started doing that.
And here I’ve finished it.
See how instead of blank areas in the word, I have pieces of different colors? That’s exactly what I want. We have a beautiful knockout design!
Step #6: Combine pieces of the same color
I want to keep all my black pieces together and all my yellow pieces together and retain the spacing. The easiest way to do that is by using the Select by Color icon in the top icon bar.
You can select all the pieces of one color (make sure you’re using By Fill) and combine them with a grouping or compound path, then repeat that for the second color. Now I have 2 parts of my design, 1 of each color. I can cut them separately and them put them each onto my project.
HINT: If you are doing this with HTV, then you may want to make a tiny offset of your lower layer (or both) to account for the shrinkage that happens when you heat HTV. Also, use a flash press on the lower layer — heat it only long enough to enable you to remove the carrier.
There you go!