How To Create a Neon Text Effect In Photoshop {Plus a Sign}

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Of all the Photoshop text effects tutorials I’ve created, this is my favorite! You’re going to learn sooo much in this Photoshop neon effect tutorial, guaranteed.

So, what exactly are you going to learn about in this neon effect Photoshop tutorial? For starters, how to create neon text and a neon sign.

This will require learning how to create custom shapes, apply layer styles, place your sign on a wall to match the perspective, and more.

Bonus; free resources included too!

Are you ready to master creating a neon effect in Photoshop? Awesome, let’s do it.

Table of Contents

Note: the (above) video tutorial was created with Photoshop beginners in mind. The following step-by-step instructions are for more experienced users.

Step 1: Open Images In Photoshop + Add Your Text

add images and text

Download this image and open it in Photoshop. If you prefer a brick texture image, try this. Then, grab your Text tool (T), so we can add some text.

For the font, I’m using a free one by the name of Cassannet Outline. Here is the hexadecimal number for the colors; #dd5e1f, and for the size, let’s go with 44px.

Type out any word in all caps. For this scene, I thought the word “LIQUOR” was appropriate.

Right now, the spacing between the letters seems to be too tight. Let’s increase it by double-clicking on the word to select it. To increase the spacing, you’ll need to adjust the Kerning or, in this case, the Tracking via the character panel.

Window > Character

Pro Tip:

You can improve the readability of your text by adjusting the letter spacing. Too tight or too loose, and it’s harder to read. The goal is to find a balance between the spacing that makes it easier to read.

In the design world, we have two words that reference this spacing; Kerning + Tracking. Both refer to spacing. But, each targets a different portion of your words.

Tracking refers to the loosening or tightening of a selected block of text. On the other hand, Kerning is the process of adding or subtracting space between specific pairs of letters.

For this design, I’ve increased the Tracking more than usual. This is for two reasons. We need more spacing for the outer glow (+ inner glow) of the neon to be visible. Two, you can get away with more spacing of a single word vs. several paragraphs.

In the Character panel, locate the icon with the label of “Set the tracking for the selected letters.” Increase the amount to 240 and hit your Enter or Return key. Deactivate the text tool by hitting your Esc key.

Line Two of Text

For our second line of text, I will change the font type, color, and size. Here are the selections for this;

Go ahead and type out your second line. For my design, I chose “the bar.” The only problem is the spacing between the letters is the same as before. Which, I think, is too much for this text.

This is because the font’s thickness is skinny, and it’s not necessary to have that much space. Select the word (s) and adjust the Tracking back to zero.

With your Move tool (V), move each text layer to the top right. Then, snap your second text layer to the bottom right of the first.

Step 2: Style Text + Initial Neon Effect

add bevel and emboss effect

Now the fun begins! It’s time to convert our text to neon. There will be a few different steps we’ll take to complete the effect.

First, let’s add a bevel and emboss for the initial effect. Double-click on the main words text layer. This will reveal the Layer Style window. Select the Bevel and Emboss tab to the left, and here are my settings;

Now that you have the initial effect on one layer, it’s time to copy it and place it on the other text layer. Right-click on the layer with the layer style and choose “Copy Layer Style.” Right-click on the other text layer and choose “Paste Layer Style.”

Due to the second text layer having a thinner font style, we need to make minor adjustments to the Bevel and Emboss. Double-click on this layer to re-open the Layer Style window.

I’ve adjusted the following; Depth is now 521% and 32px for the Size. Everything else will stay the same.

Glowing Neon

A neon sign wouldn’t be complete without an outer glow (or inner glow)! Duplicate the text layer and rename it “Liquor Blur.” Then, right-click on this new layer and choose “Rasterize Layer Style.”

Move this duplicate layer below the original. To create the outer glow, go to;

Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur

For the amount of Gaussian Blur, set it to 10px. If you would like to intensify the outer glow, duplicate this layer and append “2” to the layer name. Next, let’s organize our “Liquor” layers by grouping them via the layers panel.

Organize Your Layers

Hold down your Command or Ctrl key and click on each layer to select them. Right-click on any layer and choose “Group from Layers” or use the keyboard shortcut; Command or Ctrl + G.

Repeat the above steps for the second text layer. Once completed, select both groups and group again.

Step 3: Create a Neon Sign

create neon sign

Words alone are not enough for this neon effect! Let’s boost our Photoshop knowledge by creating an outline for our neon sign. This will require creating a custom shape with your Rounded Rectangle Shape Tool.

Locate the tool via the toolbar and set the colors as follows;

Draw out a rectangle that encompasses the outside of both text layers. Select both the shape layer and the grouped layer. You’ll need to do this so you can align the text inside the middle of the outline.

With your Move Tool (V) selected, align the text to the horizontal and vertical centers via the tool options.

Three More Shapes

To create the second level of the neon sign, we need to create a new rectangle, three in fact. The method I used in the Youtube video is complex and challenging to explain. Watch from the 11:30 mark to see how it’s done.

Using the Pen Tool

That being said, a more straightforward method for creating this custom sign is via the Pen Tool (P). Simply make your first anchor point on the bottom ⅔ of the sign, on the left. Create a new anchor point directly to the right of it for the initial path.

Move down from there and click and drag your mouse to curve the path. Continue by adding another point down and then to the right to connect the lower portion of the sign.

Once the path is complete, you’ll need to stroke it to match the rectangle’s size and color. Also, don’t forget to rasterize the layer and cut-out the rectangle portion not required with the eraser tool.

Glowing Neon Sign

Now that your sign outline is complete, it’s time to add an outer glow (and an inner glow if you prefer).

First, rename the layer to “Sign Outline.” Before we forget, let’s also apply the Bevel and Emboss as before… paste the layer style onto the layer.

Now, duplicate the layer, rasterize it, and add the same amount of Gaussian Blur as before.

Finally, group all the sign outline layers and name it accordingly. Then, take the three groups and group them into 1 with the name “Original.”

Let’s take that group and duplicate it, right-click to choose “Merge Group,” and name it Sign. This allows you to work non-destructively.

Step 4: Add Your Neon Sign + Text To a Wall + Match Perspective

Perspective

The key to placing our neon text sign on the wall is matching the perspective. Otherwise, it will look fake. To help us simulate the angle of view, we’ll start out by creating two guidelines.

Take a close look at where the ceiling and wall meet. There’s a definitive line from left to right. Look further down on the wall, and you’ll notice a crease. Both of these will help us match the perspective.

To add guides, grab your Line Tool and fill in the color with white. Make sure to set the stroke color to No Color and the Weight at 5px.

Do you need to create a new layer for your guides? Nope. As you add the lines, they create new layers for it automatically.

So, add your two guidelines. One near the ceiling and the other on the crease. Let’s move these two lines closer together to represent the height of our neon sign.

This can be done by using your Move Tool (V) to move them into position.

Warp Your Neon Sign

In essence, we’re going to be warping our neon sign to place it on the wall. For this neon design, we will use our Free Transform tool (Command or Ctrl + T) to warp it.

The secret to warping with the Free Transform tool is manipulating each corner individually. This can be achieved by holding down your Command or Ctrl key as you click and drag a corner.

Start by dragging the top left corner to the top of the first line. Continue by dragging each corner accordingly.

The last key for a realistic perspective is making both the neon sign left and right sides a perfect vertical. Grab a bottom corner and drag to the left or right as needed to make the line vertical. Repeat on the other side.

Don’t forget to turn off the visibility of your guides since they are no longer needed.

Step 5: Enhance the Neon Effect

Neon Effect

We are almost done! Before you go, let’s enhance our neon effect by styling it a bit. We’re going to add some depth with an inner shadow and a bit of shine to it as well.

Double click on your sign layer to activate the Layer Styles panel. Select the Drop Shadow option and use the following settings;

Note: you may want to experiment with adding an Inner Shadow too. An Inner Shadow will alter the depth. It all depends on your creative vision for the final design. Also, the Blend Mode can have dramatic effects too.

Now duplicate this layer with Command or Ctrl +J and append the name with 2. Lower the Opacity of this duplicate layer to 50%.

Next, open the Layer Style panel again and adjust the Bevel and Emboss settings as follow;

Experiment further by boosting the Saturation, changing the background with new images, and or adjusting the Hue.

BONUS: My Finished Design for Reference

Download my finished PSD file for this design for reference. Notice how I’ve organized the layers by re-naming them and the use of groups.

Now What?

Now it’s time to practice what you learned in Photoshop! It’s the best way to master this text effect and anything else, for that matter. When you’re happy with your neon design, I’d love to see your finished artwork.

If you’d like to share it, get feedback, or ask questions, I invite you to join our private Facebook group. It’s a great place to learn more about Photoshop, ask questions, and get feedback on your designs.

Looking for more Photoshop text tutorials? Check out this playlist that includes over 20 text effects (tutorial for Photoshop) you can create today!

Like this article? If so, please share!

Parker
Parker
A 30-year photography pro with a desire to help you achieve your creative vision! Facebook | Youtube
 

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