Creating a Neon Sign Effect in PS

A lot of people are doing projects on spaces in the city, so perhaps a neon sign effect could be useful in your website design. It’s pretty easy to do and mostly just uses layer styles!

Firstly, decide on your background and your text. Think about the color of your text. What color do you think a neon sign should be? Keep in mind that you don’t need to make the color of your font a neon color. In fact, it is best to make it several shades darker than neon, since we will be adding some glow to it.

In Photoshop, type out your text on a separate layer from your background, and then right click the text layer in the layers panel, and choose ‘Rasterize Type.’ Keep in mind that after you rasterize the type layer, you can no longer edit it with the Type Tool. So you should probably duplicate the text layer before rasterizing it to keep an unedited copy. Make sure to hide your duplicated layer by clicking the eyeball icon next to the layer name.



Once you have your rasterized type layer, duplicate it twice by right clicking the layer and selecting ‘Duplicate Layer.’ You should now have three copies of it. Hide the duplicate layers while you aren’t working on them. Below these text layers, create a new layer and name it ‘clouds.’ In your tool bar menu, make sure you colors are set to a black foreground and a white background. With your ‘clouds’ layer selected, in the top menu bar go to Filter > Render > Clouds.



On your clouds layer, grab the eraser tool and set it to a larger size in the menu bar. Make sure your eraser type is a hard eraser. Begin erasing all of the clouds around the edges, and only leave clouds in a small circle around where your text will be.



You can then change your eraser to a soft eraser and turn down its opacity to feather out the edges of your clouds. Again with your ‘clouds’ layer still selected, change the blending mode to ‘Color Dodge.’ This menu can be found next to the opacity in your layers panel. Your clouds should look pretty blended with your background. You want them to be subtle, because they are just adding to the ‘glow’ of your neon sign.



Okay, we are finished with the clouds layer. With the first layer of your text selected, go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur. This is where the type of font you used will make a difference. A skinnier font will need less blur. My font is really skinny so i set a low blur. Fatter fonts could take a lot of blur, up to 15 or more. Just make sure your text is a bit blurry but still readable.



Double click the layer you just blurred. Here is where you need to edit a few layer styles to get your desired effect. Again, the way you edit your layers will depend on the type of font you are using, so play around with it. Your key elements will be Drop Shadow, Outer Glow, Inner Shadow, Bevel & Emboss, and Color Overlay. I’m going to screen shot the options I used. I based my numbers off a tutorial I found on Abduzeedo 😉


It should be looking kind of like this…Image


When you are done, duplicate the text layer you just edited, and put it on top in your layers panel. On one of your duplicated layers from the beginning, again select Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur. This time, make the blur amount higher so that you can hardly make out the text. Put this layer at the top of your layers panel. Lastly, turn on your last, unedited text layer. This will end up on the very top of your layers panel. Hopefully this gives you the neon effect you desire!



There are lots of variations of this tutorial, so play around with it until you find what works. Be warned… it’s easy to make this effect look super cheesy. But maybe that’s what you’re going for!





~ by Abi Laurel on October 6, 2013.

2 Responses to “Creating a Neon Sign Effect in PS”

  1. While I appreciate that your post is very detailed and has many visual aids to help the reader understand your process, I feel like there are too many screenshots, especially one after the other. I think that you could have accomplished the same thing without as many screenshots of the layer style window.

  2. This tutorial is very helpful. I think the topic choice is appropriate for the night lifestyle of new york. The text can be wordy at times, perhaps you should consolidate text as much as possible, saying the same thing but with more precise language. Layers in photoshop can get confusing and there are a few times in this tutorial where I’m not sure which layer I should be changing. Perhaps a few shots of the layers section could help to visualize this aspect of the tutorial. I’m not quite sure what the whole ‘cloud’ section was about, was it adding to the background of the neon effect or the letters themselves? In any case, when you use photo’s in your explanation they are always clear and easy to read.
    Good tutorial!

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