Here’s a technique for creating grungy scrawl – it can be applied to text also as I’m going to demonstrate here – that remains live and editable – using lines and graphic styles. There are several variations you can do here – including using different brushes in the mix but for now this simple approach will have you emulating your sketchbook in minutes.
As usual, Windows users should substitute CMD with CTRL and if you’re on a US Mac keyboard substitute the ALT with OPTION.
Making the components
Use the pencil tool to draw a simple bumpy line, as I have done above.
Use the shortcut CMD-ALT-J to invoke the average command – it is under the Object > Path submenu. Select the horizontal radio button and click ok.
You should end up with something that looks like the above. Leave that selected and double-click on the reflect tool in the toolbox.
Once again, select the horizontal option; click copy.
Switch to the Direct Selection Tool (A) and drag a selection marquee over the last endpoint of the top and bottom lines to select them both.
Once again, use the average command – this time choosing the both option – and then join the two points together by using the Join command – CMD-J (this is also available from the Object > Path menu). Repeat this at the other end of the lines to create a closed shape.
Go to the brushes panel and click on the new brush icon at the bottom. Choose art brush from the dialog and just click ok in the options dialog. If you want, you can repeat these steps a couple more times to create a couple of other brushes to use as well – this technique works best when there’s more than one and the image below shows my brushes panel for this exercise with three new brushes created.
Creating the Appearance
Now you can draw a rectangle with no fill and apply the brush stroke to it by clicking on the stroke in the brushes panel.
If you created more than one new brush, go to the Appearance panel, choose Add New Stroke from the panel menu and apply another (different) brush stroke to your shape.
Repeat as necessary – my shape ended up with the three brushes I’d created added to it, as pictured above. Keep it selected.
Defining and applying the Style
Switch to the Graphic Styles panel and either click the new icon at the bottom of the panel or choose New Graphic Style from the panel menu. All of the attributes of your rectangle now become a style.
All that’s left to do now is to click on a bit of text (or indeed any other object) then select your graphic style from the panel, and you’re done!