Styles in Motion: Neon Text

This project will familiarize you with different layer style options and animating a sequence in ImageReady by only making changes to the layer style settings. Creating neon effects involves two elements: the tubing and the light glow. When the light is off, the tubing still has a 3-D surface and casts a shadow if any ambient light is present. When the light is on, it casts a glow but no shadows.

Note: Intermediate or advanced Photoshop users may want to open the file NeonText.psd on the DVD and skip ahead to the animation section of this project.

1. Start by creating a text or object layer in Photoshop that will simulate the shape of the neon tubing (see Figure 1.20).

Figure 1.20 Create a new text or object layer.

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Figure 1.20 Create a new text or object layer.

2. Click the Add Layer Style button on the Layers palette to open the Layer Style dialog box. The first step is to give the shape a base color, so select the Color Overlay option and choose a color by clicking on the colored rectangle. In this example, I used the default red color for my base.

3. Select the Bevel And Emboss option, and adjust the Depth to 200% and set the Size to 6 pixels. Change the Highlight color to a lighter shade of the base color you're using (mine is a pale pink) and change the Shadow color to a darker shade (a dark red in my example). Adjust the Opacity of each to achieve a balance between the base color and the highlights.

4. Set the altitude of the light source high so that it creates the highlight on the top surface of the tubing, as shown in Figure 1.21.

Figure 1.21

Apply the Bevel And Emboss option and change settings to create a tubing effect.

Figure 1.21

Apply the Bevel And Emboss option and change settings to create a tubing effect.

5. Apply the Inner Glow option. Change the color to a lighter version of your base color (in my example, it's a pale pink). Set the size to approximately 10 pixels— adjust for the size/resolution of your image and object layer. Change the Contour from the default to Ring-Double.

6. Select the Outer Glow option, and set the color to a slightly lighter variation of your base color. Set the Opacity to 50% and the Blend Mode to Normal. Adjust the Size to 15 pixels to achieve an even spread of "light" around the object (see Figure 1.22).

Figure 1.22

Use Outer Glow to make the neon shed some light!

Figure 1.22

Use Outer Glow to make the neon shed some light!

7. Click OK and apply a dark background texture to a layer below the neon object layer.

Your final image should have a soft glow around the edges of the tubing (See Figure 1.23). You may need to make some adjustments to the glow opacity and size if the image appears too weak or strong for a realistic effect.

Figure 1.23

The completed image should have a soft glow around the edges.

Figure 1.23

The completed image should have a soft glow around the edges.

We will now create the "off" version of the tubing by making a few changes in the Layer Style dialog box:

1. Duplicate the neon tube object layer and open the Layer Style dialog box. Deselect the Inner Glow and Outer Glow options by clicking their check boxes off.

2. Set the Opacity of the Color Overlay to approximately 30% and apply a slight Drop Shadow, as shown in Figure 1.24. Depending on your background color, you will need to adjust the opacity of the shadow's intensity to make it just barely visible.

Figure 1.24

Applying a drop shadow in the "off" version of the tubing will give the object a 3-D effect against the background.

Figure 1.24

Applying a drop shadow in the "off" version of the tubing will give the object a 3-D effect against the background.

3. Jump to ImageReady to animate the sequence of the light flashing on and off. For a believable effect of the neon light turning on and off, there should be a bit of flicker, which can easily be created in the timeline.

4. Start with the first frame in the Animation palette and make only the "off" layer visible. In the second frame, make the "on" layer visible.

5. Duplicate these two frames three times (creating a total of eight frames—off/on, off/on, and so on).

6. On the seventh frame, make the "on" layer visible and set the Opacity to 50%. This will make it appear as if it is fading as it turns off completely.

7. Set the timing on each frame by clicking on the delay setting (as shown in Figure 1.25). Set the first and sixth frames to 2 seconds, while setting the remaining frames to No Delay. This will cause a slight flicker as the light goes on and off.

Figure 1.25 Adjust the timing of the frames to create a realistic "flicker"in the neon light.

Note: As with all animation projects created in ImageReady,you can preview the animation in a web browser to gain a feel of the timing.Then choose Export Original Document and create a QuickTime movie of your completed animation sequence.

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