You are asking a great deal. A small novella to explain everything.
The fact that you own the Master Collection is okay but.... what's your experience level with it?
Are you, perchance, actually working in the sign trade? Are you trying to draw a rendering of a proposed sign for a customer?
Don't take offense at the following; none is intended.
The trouble with "how do I draw a...." questions is: The questioner has so firmly etched in his mind a particular desired image that he assumes others see the same mental image from a very rudimentary description. For example, your description says nothing about style, orientation, whether by "box" you are just referring to the internally-illuminated sign's cabinet, whether the face of the sign is made of the same material, or if it is also translucent plastic, etc., etc.
Imagine someone asking "How do I draw a car?" They might have anything in mind from a loosey-goosey sketch to a fully-rendered center spread for Motor Trends.
So the short answer is: You learn how to work the progam and just draw it. You can "draw" it in Illustrator, or you can "paint" it in Photoshop. But exactly how you would draw it in Illustrator depends on what kind of style you intend, and answers to the other questions above. A photo-realistic rendering? An actual 3D model? A sketchy 2D architectural style? A cartoon?
There are as many different ways to "draw a sign" as there are illustrators who might draw it.
Asking a question this way leaves the reader wondering if you know how to work the program. How much experience do you have with Illustrator? Do you know how to use the Pen tool? Have you read the documentation? Do you understand the fundamental differences between a program like Photoshop and a program like Illustrator? Are you one of those who think you just start using Illustrator by launching it and poking around in it, and then jump right in on serious work with it?
Assuming you have at least read the documentation, and have a general working knowledge of Illustrator, just start drawing the image you have in mind. When you get stuck on a specific part, come back and ask for help in doing that. Posting a screenshot of what you have done so far (or if you have one, a sample of what you are trying to achieve) helps tremendously in trying to give you any useful guidance.
Take a look at the following image:
If I wanted the letters of the name to appear chiseled in the wood, how would I accomplish this?
The letters were typed and then feathered, and then a white outline was applied to achieve this visibility.
The wood and the fork were downloaded from the net as an image. Is there a texture generator for Illustrator or Photoshop that would enable me to create my own, unique wood texture? (aside from the pre-defined wood gradients)
Using the image posted in the previous reply, what if I wanted the face of the sign to appear as an acrylic or fiberglass instead of wood (to have a glossy surface), and I wanted the letters to appear as though they were cut into the surface (let's say.. less than one-inch into the surface of the acrylic or fiberglass), and I wanted the letters to appear as though they had lighting from within the sign (from behind the letters, of course).
Is this very difficult to accomplish?
NOTE: I am devising samples of an outdoor sign for a potential client.
Can't see your image. The forum entry screen has a large notice on it: Attachments Temporarily Diabled. Post the image on a web service or on your own web space and put a link in your post.
Please answer the questions about your experience with Illustrator.
I have to relocate from my present location, so I will reply soon with a link to the sample.
I have uploaded a sample image here:
I would like to have the white letters appear slightly recessed into the wood, but continue to have the effect of being lit up, as opposed to being chiseled into the wood.
Within Photoshop, I did notice the blending properties within the Layers panel, in order to arrive at a chiseled appearance.
I did come across the following tutorial about engraving within Photoshop. I tried to follow the example... i got as far as creating the text on a new channel when I had to change locations, so maybe I will continue following this tutorial simply as an effort to continue learning.
With regard to my knowledge of Illustrator, I am very new to Illustrator and CS4 on a Macbook, having come from a PC background using the Corel Draw Suite from version 5 through version 12 (primarily using Corel Draw and Corel Photo-Paint).