Did you notice neon signs scattered around the city streets? In this tutorial, you will learn how to create a neon effect from scratch using the basic Photoshop Pen and Brush tools, as well as various layer styles to get realistic results. Let’s start!
1. Create letters
Open the program and create a new document with a size of 1181 x 788 pixels with a resolution of 300 dpi.
Activate Type Tool (T) (Text) and write a word or phrase in any standard font, for example, Helvetica.
Open the window Windows – Character (Window – Symbol) and adjust the distance between the lines of text (the value depends on the font size).
We also make the text a little wider (again, the value depends on the size of your text).
Create a new layer (Ctrl + Shift + N) by clicking the button Create a new layer (Create New Layer) at the bottom of the layers panel.
Activate Pen Tool (P) (pen) in mode Shape (Figure) and begin to draw the outline of the letters.
Draw the following lines.
Repeat the process and draw the remaining letters. I advise you to study real neon signs in order to get a realistic enough form of letters.
Now open the photo with the wall and drag it to the working document under the letter layer. This will be the background for neon text.
Select all layers with letters and press Ctrl + G to add them to the group, then Ctrl + E to merge the group into one layer.
Double click on the layer to open the window Layer Style (Layer style). Apply layer style Color Overlay (Overlapping colors) and click OK. Click on the layer with the right mouse button and select Rasterize Layer Style (Rasterize the layer style).
2. Add effects
Double click on the layer to open the window Layer Style (Layer style). Apply layer style Outer Glow (External glow).
Duplicate the text layer (Ctrl + J), left-click the fx icon on the layer and drag it to the basket icon to clear the layer of styles.
Double click on the copy of the layer and apply Outer Glow (External glow) and Drop Shadow (Shadow).
This is what the result looks like, but so far there is no real neon effect.
Create a new group, improvement, by clicking on the icon at the bottom of the layers panel. Duplicate the second text and place a copy in this group. Double click on it and set up layer styles. The size (Size) we change the external glow and shadow to a larger one.
Hold down Ctrl and click on the thumbnail of the text layer on the layers panel to load its selection. Then go Select – Modify – Contract (Selection – Modification – Compress) and enter the value 1 to compress the selection by 1 pixel.
Press the arrows a few times to the right and down on the keyboard to move the selection just below.
Create a new layer and fill the selection with white. To do this, click Edit – Fill (Editing – Fill).
Duplicate the text layer and place it in the group. Double click on it to apply layer styles. Outer Glow (External glow) and Drop Shadow (Shadow).
Press Ctrl again and click on the layer thumbnail to load its selection. Move on Select – Modify – Expand (Selection – Modification – Expand) and expand the selection by 4 pixels.
Create a new layer above the text and fill the selection with any color.
Apply layer styles to fill. Inner Shadow (Inner shadow), Inner Glow (Internal glow) and Outer Glow (External glow). Then install Fill (Fill) of this layer at 0%.
Now the text looks more like a neon sign, but more needs to be done. Now we will try to add volume to the text. Hold Ctrl and click on the thumbnail of the text layer, then compress the selection by 1 pixel.
Above we create a new layer and fill the selection with a dark yellow color.
Add a mask to the layer by clicking on the button. Add layer mask (Add layer mask) at the bottom of the layers panel. Then we draw a black brush over the mask to hide part of the dark yellow fill.
Add a new layer and carefully draw the shadows to separate the individual elements of the letters from each other. Below you can see an example.
Now add a rounded rectangle that connects the two letters. Turn it slightly to make it more natural.
Set the color of the rectangle to black and place it under all text layers.
Add rounded rectangles between all letters. Note that the rectangles should be on the same layer. To do this, hold down the Shift key while creating shapes.
Press Ctrl + Enter to select all the rectangles. Create a new layer and fill the selection with black.
We also need to add light to the rectangles. Do not forget that they are behind the lamps, therefore must be illuminated.
Let’s add one more shadow behind the text. Hold Ctrl and click on the thumbnail of the text layer and connectors to create their selection. Move the selection just below.
Create a new layer below the text. Fill the selection with black. Use the filter to smooth the shadow. Filter – Blur – Gaussian Blur (Filter – Blur – Gaussian Blur).
3. Draw a cable
Activate Pen Tool (P) (Pen) and draw the tip of the cable as shown below. Set the layer color to black and place it behind the text.
Double click on this layer and add layer style. Bevel and Emboss (Emboss) with the following settings.
Again take Pen Tool (P) (Pen) and draw a long cable.
If necessary, change the angle of the cable (Ctrl + T).
Change the color of the cable stroke to dark gray.
Add a layer style Bevel and Emboss (Embossed) to give bulk to the cord.
Hold Ctrl and click on the thumbnail of the cable layer to load its selection. Apply Select – Modify – Expand (Allocation – Modification – Expand).
Move on Edit – Stroke (Editing – Stroke). Apply a 2 pixel wide stroke.
Use a soft eraser to remove part of the stroke. So, we added highlights on the cable.
Add another stroke to the cable. This time we use a lighter shade, then blur it with a filter. Gaussian Blur (Gaussian blur).
We get this result. At the end of the cable, which is closer to the lamp, we draw a yellow light by hand.
On the first letter we draw another cable.
And another cable that connects the upper and lower letters.
4. Draw holders
Now we have to add special holders to which neon tubes are attached. To do this, draw two rectangles of the same color as the letters, and place them above the letters.
Duplicate the rectangles and distribute all the letters.
Apply layer styles to holders Bevel and Emboss (Embossed), Inner Glow (Internal glow) and Outer Glow (External glow).
To make the holders look more realistic, we need to draw the shadows. Pay attention to the places marked with arrows. Do not paint the shadow too saturated, it should be barely noticeable, it will give realism.
Here is the result of our work. I hope you liked the lesson, and you understood how to create realistic lighting, using mostly the same layer styles.