Turn Any Font Into a Sketch Font

Sketch Font ThumbnailThis blog post was previously published on our blog in 2009, and since it was so popular with our readers, we wanted to be sure the instructions were up-to-date. So we’ve updated this tutorial to be current with the most recent versions of Illustrator. Hope you enjoy revisiting this helpful tutorial in Illustrator CS6 & CC style. Want to see other articles revamped? Let us know by leaving a comment below.

Here are some popular sketch fonts available that are great for grungy and hand-drawn designs and illustrations. My problem is, I want to be able to use this sketchy style in any font. Turn’s out, it is actually really easy to do in Illustrator. Moreover, you can create a Graphic Style and easily apply the style to other editable fonts to create your very own custom sketch font!

Tutorial Details

  • Program: Adobe Illustrator CS6 – CC
  • Difficulty: Beginner
  • Topics Covered: Appearance panel, Graphic Styles
  • Estimated Completion Time: 10 minutes

Final Image

Below is an example of the sketch font we will be creating.

Final Image: Sketch font effects

Step 1

Create a new document and with the Text tool (T), type out some text with the font of your choosing. I am using Glypha Black as my font.

Choose any font

Step 2

With the text selected, take off any stroke and fill. We are going to add a stroke and fill separate from each other in the Appearance panel in the next couple of steps.

take off any stroke or fill

Step 3

With the no fill and no stroke text selected, open the pop-up menu in the Appearance panel, and chose Add New Fill. Keep the default black color of the fill.

add new fill

Step 4

Select the new fill in the Appearance panel, and go Effect > Stylize > Scribble. With the Scribble Options dialog open, change the Angle to 45, the Path Overlap to 0 px, the Path Overlap Variation to 2 px, the Stroke Width to 1 px, the Curviness to 0, the Curviness Variation to 50, the Spacing to 2 px, and the Spacing Variation to 1.5 px.

fill with scribble

Step 5

Select the Stroke option in the Appearance panel and give the text a 2 pt stroke.

add stroke to sketch font

Step 6

With the Stroke still selected in the Appearance panel, go Effect > Distort & Transform > Roughen. In the Roughen dialog, change the Size to .5, select the Relative radial button, change the Detail to 30, and select the Smooth radial button for Point. This will give the stroke a little distress.


Step 7

Now, we have a custom sketch font. Moreover, you can easily edit the font! To make this technique even more useful, let’s create a Graphic Style so we can quickly apply these effects to other fonts and text. First select your font and take a look at the Appearance panel. You can see all the effects in your type. Now, simply press the New Graphic Style Button in the Graphic Styles panel and name your new Graphic Style!

sketch font effect

Step 8

Now type out some more text and change the font. With the text selected, press the thumbnail of your new sketchy Graphic Style and see all the wonderful sketchy results!

Final Image: Sketch Font Effect


You can apply the sketchy graphic style to other objects other than text. I also suggest playing around with the Scribble and Roughen effect settings. Post links to images in the comments with your results!

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195 thoughts on “Turn Any Font Into a Sketch Font

  1. This is a cool vintage look which was surprisingly easy thanks to your great instructions, except for one thing- I am using illustrator cs4, and was unable to get the stroke to look like a solid line. It looks just like the rest of the scribble. The only way I could get a solid outline was in 2 pieces–duplicating the original text without a fill and adding a stroke and placing it over my scribble layer. I am not very ai adept-any thoughts on what i did wrong?

  2. I had just received a notice about a sale on a font that has a hand-drawn look to it. In the process of Googling to see if anyone had a comment about that font (named “Skitch”), I came across this GREAT tutorial of yours: “Turn Any Font Into a Sketch Font.”

    I’ve just now finished duplicating your steps, using Ai CC v18.0.0.
    This is WAY COOL.

    On the LinkedIn group, “Adobe Illustrator,” I’m going to create as discussion with a link to your tutorial. I will name my discussion that same as your tutorial.

    THANK YOU!!!

    • Autumn, I double checked this and the Scribble feature should appear by default in CS6. Since you’re not seeing this by default on your version of Illustrator, you may try resetting your preferences by going to Window>Workspace>Reset Essentials. If the problems persist, you may try reaching out to Adobe.

  3. Thank you so much! I just used your tutorial in my latest work. I was planning to do such an effect by hand, you saved me a lot of time 🙂

  4. This was perfect for a typography poster that I am doing for a school project. By following the tutorial, mine also came out perfect. Don’t need to say just how grateful I am, thanks!

  5. Thanks for the tutorial. I am creating a series of headlines using this and wonder if there is a way to change the color once a graph is made or if I will need to apply all the effects each time I want a new color. Thanks.

  6. Thank you so much. I am new in Illustrator and this really helped me a lot. Easy steps and great results!! Am using it rt now. Thanks again 🙂

  7. Thanks for a great tutorial! Just wondering if there is a way to then change the color of the scribble text? Thanks in advance!

  8. Great tutorial! I love how easy it is to edit later, I probably would have used a clipping mask, but then I would have been kind of screwed on fixing it up after-the-fact. Thanks! Keep them coming!

  9. Thank you! These tutorials are super helpful!

    I like it with the stroke not roughened. It reminds me of a coloring book. Especially if you change the fill color.

    Keep up the awesome work!

  10. Great tut thank you!
    i’m having a few problems with it though.. i have to make my font 200 or so to get the sketchy-ness to look any good and even then it doesn’t look as smooth as yours?? I’ve played around with the settings in the scribble options dialogue box but it doesn’t seem to make it any better. my settings are in mm and i wondered if that was the problem? rather than px.. Any tips would be fantastic. Cheers

      • Hi, I had similar problem. The effect only seemed to add more lines around the text itself, and even enlarging the font didn’t help.
        What worked for me was to retype the text in a new text box and try again, and it worked.

        BTW awesome tut! (once you get it to work)

  11. amazing!!!!! can’t believe I had been suffering trying to get this effect for so long LOL your tut has made my day, thank you! 🙂

  12. This is really awesome!!! It helped me ALOT…
    You saved me all time of searching for a scribbled font type on line… Thanx sooooo much…

    I’m in love with Illustrator, it a really Great program!

  13. I found this tutorial incredibly helpful in doing exactly what I was looking to do, create a sketchy look to a font. However, I want to take it a step further from Illustrator. I want to create a font from the effect. I have outlined the font in Illustrator with the effect on it so each letter is individual (with scribble effect still on it). I have then tried to copy and paste an individual letter into Fontographer without success (it comes through as a solid black version of the font). I have also tried and copy and paste it just into another Illustrator file and it goes all white, losing the effect as well. Is there any way I can take this style as individual letters from Illustrator into Fontographer to create a version of our house font, retaining the scribble effect which is so perfect in Illustrator from using this technique?

  14. can anybody help me?? scribble option does not exist in my illustrator… there just glowing edges style effect. i’ve use illustrator cs5.. how to make that option appears? i’ve try to clear uninstall and reinstall.. but still not work..

  15. WOW! And here’s me thinking I would never EVER understand illustrator and first time I get my perfect scribble text. Not just that, but I was even able to succesfully play around with the colours and scribble effect attributes to get the perfect scrawl. THANK YOU SO MUCH. xxx

  16. what if i wanted to make similar effects on vectors other than text?
    i tried this method on vectors but got short on the part where you go to apply the scribble effect in stylize since the option doesnt exist? is it only for text?

    • You should have no problem applying to Graphic Style and techniques to other vector objects. When you are applying the Scribble effect, is it grayed out?

  17. Just be sure to check the license on the typeface you’re going to use for this. You don’t want to end up doing this for a client, only to find yourself being sued by the type designer or foundry. Look specifically for lines that mention modifications to the original design. Some do, but some don’t. When in doubt, ask before you do anything other than just playing.

  18. Thank you, this tutorial helped me out with my homework for a digital arts class I am taking at my local community college.

  19. Hi Rype,

    I am using Illustrator CS3 and i can not find Effect > Stylize > Scribble. Can you help me out. I have been looking for this technique for a while now.

  20. I put your tutorial on one screen and illustrator on the other screen and followed step-by-step and got the results, wow this is amazing, especially that we can reuse this effect with out all the work. well done.

  21. Another nice tutorial, man I’m learning a lot from you!, thanks I’m just starting using Illustrator I have more experience with Photoshop.


  22. What a great tip!! I can’t thank you enough for this! Just what I needed (I;m creating a T-shirt design and this is just perfect for what I had in mind).

    Keep posting!!!

  23. Wow! That is just the best tip ever! I’ve been wondering how to do this for ages and can’t believe it’s so easy! Thank you a million scribbly times!!!

  24. So simple and such a grate result! I love it!..the newsletter came in at the right time, Im using it already..thxs

  25. I cannot thank you enough. I’ve been searching for so long on how to do this. And it’s so simple even a novice like me could do it. thank you for your great site! 🙂

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