A while back a client asked me if I could create a mock-up of a neon sign so that they could get a real feel for how it might look before they had it manufactured. A quick Google search will show you that buying a neon sign ready-made is quite expensive but having a custom manufactured sign made can run into thousands of pounds. So I obliged and made the neon sign for my client. I’ll share with you the techniques that are used in this blog post.
So you might be thinking wait a minute there are graphic styles inside of Adobe illustrator. In fact you can find them in the Styles panel. If you go down to the bottom left hand side of styles panel and click on the library button there is a library dedicated to neon effects. And the way that any effect is made inside of Adobe Illustrator is to apply several stroke appearances to one object. And when I say several strokes that’s achieved by using the appearance panel and stacking in the region of 8 to 10 strokes on one object. This makes fine tuning and editing those built-in library appearances really difficult.
You know what they say, If you want anything doing right, you’ve got to do it yourself. So with a little experimentation I found that you can apply to about 3 appearances to an object and then apply feather affects to the strokes to achieve a really good neon glowing effect. If you’re not familiar with the appearance panel and applying multiple appearances then this can first seem quite challenging.So I’ve gone ahead and made a video of the whole process and you can download the file that I created to use and follow along with the video.You can see from the three screen grabs above how this project progresses from the shape outlines and simple stroke weights, to the full neon effect.
You can download the file for this video from link here.This document contains three layersThe bottom layer is the image background which you will be editingThere’s a second layer called lights offWithin which all of the starting content is stored, and finally the third layer, called Neon contains the finished version of the signage with their neon effects applied for reference.