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Creating neon "block outs" between letters

From: Illustrator CS6 One-on-One: Advanced

Video: Creating neon "block outs" between letters

Now if this were a real neon sign, then all of the letters in the word OPEN would be made from a single glass tube that had been hand bent in different directions. The areas of that tube between the letters are blocked out using opaque glass paint. So you can see here if I go ahead and click on this path between the bottoms of the O and P that we have four areas of block out right here. So presumably the light runs through the O, into the P, through the center of the E, up and around and into the N.

Creating neon "block outs" between letters

Now if this were a real neon sign, then all of the letters in the word OPEN would be made from a single glass tube that had been hand bent in different directions. The areas of that tube between the letters are blocked out using opaque glass paint. So you can see here if I go ahead and click on this path between the bottoms of the O and P that we have four areas of block out right here. So presumably the light runs through the O, into the P, through the center of the E, up and around and into the N.

I will tell you that I created this artwork based on an actual photograph, so that must be the way it works. Anyway, for the sake of reality we need to create those regions of blocked out tube. So I'll go and switch over to my illustration in progress here and if you're working along with me, go ahead and twirl open the neon layer here inside the Layers panel. Scroll down and you'll see this item called connect. Go ahead and turn it on and meatball it as well. You see over here on the far left side of the Control panel that I have selected a Compound Path.

Now it could build up the block out effect using another blend, just as we did a couple movies ago. But for the sake of variety I'm going to assign multiple strokes to this Compound Path from the Appearance panel. So go ahead and switch over to the Appearance panel, which you can also get by choosing the Appearance command from the window menu, click on the one and only stroke assigned so far in order to make it active; and change its color to deep red, and then change the Line Weight to 30 points. Now I'll add another stroke by clicking on the Add New Stroke icon down here in the lower left corner of the Appearance panel.

This time I will change the stroke color to Black and I'll change its Line Weight value to 26 points. Then I'll go ahead and add yet another stroke by clicking on the Add New Stroke icon down there in the lower left corner of the panel. I'll change the color back to Deep red and I'll change the line weight to 12 points. I came up with all this strictly through trial and error. As I say I was just trying to match a base photograph. Now we need to add a little bit of softness between these strokes. I am going to do that using a Gaussian Blur effect.

So with this top stroke selected go up to the Effect menu, choose Blur, and then choose Gaussian Blur. I came up with a radius value of 10 pixels, then click OK. That deselects the stroke. So I'll go ahead and twirl it open so that I can see, indeed I do have a Gaussian Blur effect assigned to it. And there is blurriness here inside the artboard. Now I'll click on a stroke to make it active again and I'll go ahead and offset that stroke a little bit by going to the Effect menu, choosing Distort & Transform, and choosing Transform. And I'll change both of the Move values to 1 this time around.

Then I'll click OK and you'll see these strokes offset down and to the right slightly. That deactivates the stroke again, which is fine, but I need to reduce the opacity. So I'll go ahead and click on the word Opacity there and I'll change the Opacity value to 50%. So we end up with a dimmer effect like so. All right, now let's work on the black stroke. Go ahead and click on it to select it. Just one thing to do for this guy, go up to the Effect menu, choose Blur, and choose Gaussian Blur. This time I want a radius value of 7 pixels. Obviously, you can try out your own settings if you like.

I will go ahead and click OK and that blurs the black stroke. And now I'll click on the bottom red stroke to select it, and actually I want that same Gaussian Blur effect right there that applied to the top strokes. So I am just going to click on it as long as it's available. And I'll press the Alt or the Option key on the Mac and I'll go ahead and drag and drop that effect on to the bottom stroke. That'll go ahead and blur the backstroke as well. Twirl it open so I can see, yes indeed I've got a Gaussian Blur. I'll click on the word Opacity and reduce this one to 75% in order to come up with this effect.

Now then, I want you to see something. I'm going to switch back to the final version of the Illustrator document and notice each one of these blockouts here, I will go ahead and zoom in, begins dark, becomes a little brighter toward the center, and becomes dark again. I was able to achieve that effect using a Gradient Stroke. So I'll go ahead and switch over to my illustration in progress and I'll click on the top stroke to make it active. Maybe go ahead and twirl these guys closed here and I'll add yet another new stroke by clicking on the Add New Stroke icon.

Now I'll change it from a solid color to a gradient by tapping the period key. And that goes ahead and opens up the Gradient panel as well. I'll go ahead and expand the panel by clicking the Up Down arrow icon couple of times, and I'll click on the white color stop to make it active, and I'll change its location value to 50% so that I end up with this effect here. Now I'll click on the black color stop, and I'll actually double-click on it. Right now it's a weak black, which is not going to perform accurately for this effect. I want a nice rich black. So I will go ahead and click on my black swatch, which is that little global swatch right there.

If you want to see how it's made, look on the color icon right up above the swatch icon there. And then click on this large RGB icon right there in order to convert the black to RGB. That should be all there is to it, but then you need to also go to the flyout menu icon and choose RGB in order to see those RGB values. And notice that they're all set to 0, which is a darker black that you get with CMYK when only the K value is set to 100. Anyway, you need that in order for this effect to work.

All right now that you have set your RGB values to 0 for this black color stop, go ahead and press the Alt key or the Option key on the Mac, and drag that color stop to the far left side so you're creating a copy of it. Then the final step here inside the Color panel is to change the Stroke setting. To the center one right there Apply gradient along stroke. And that will go ahead and create the gradient along each one of these strokes, whether it's a horizontal path outlined or a vertical one. Now I am going to collapse my Gradient panel and I am going to change my Stroke Weight to something very thick, 36 points.

So it's thicker than any of the strokes below it, and then finally you want to twirl that stroke open, click on the word Opacity there, and change the Blend mode from Normal to Multiply. That will go ahead and turn that gradient stroke into a darkening agent. Just one final thing we have to do. I am going to press and hold the Ctrl+Spacebar keys. That would be Command+Spacebar on a Mac. And I'll zoom in on this area right there. And notice now that we've revealed some color other than black in the background behind the letters, the black edge of the blended letters is very hard.

So we need to soften that edge. And here is how you do that. Switch over to Layers panel. Go ahead and scroll down until you come to that letters item, which is the blend. Twirl it open and then go ahead and scroll down the list there, and grab this guy right there. So meatball the bottom-most item inside the blend. Then go up to the Edit menu and choose the Copy command or press Ctrl+C or Command+C on the Mac, then return to the Edit menu and choose the Paste and Back command, or press Ctrl+B or Command+B on the Mac.

That goes ahead and pastes yet another version of these letters at the back of the blend. Now what you want to do is you want to change the Line Weight value up here in the Control panel from 32 points to 36 points. And that will go ahead and expand this black region. Finally, go up to the Opacity value here and change it to 0%. That way you're fading from an Opaque black version of the letters to a transparent black version of the letters, and you create this soft transition right there.

All right, so I will go ahead and press Ctrl+0, Command+0 on the Mac to center my zoom; and press Ctrl+Shift+A or Command+Shift+A on the Mac, in order to deselect my letters. That takes care of our neon work inside of Illustrator. In the next movie we will take the artwork into Photoshop and we will end up making it look like this.

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This video is part of

Image for Illustrator CS6 One-on-One: Advanced
Illustrator CS6 One-on-One: Advanced

118 video lessons · 14346 viewers

Deke McClelland
Author

 
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 43m 9s
    1. Welcome to One-on-One
      2m 9s
    2. Introducing my custom keyboard shortcuts
      6m 52s
    3. Installing my dekeKeys shortcuts on Windows
      4m 46s
    4. Installing my dekeKeys shortcuts on the Mac
      4m 18s
    5. Remapping your Macintosh OS shortcuts
      3m 10s
    6. Adjusting a few key Preferences settings
      8m 13s
    7. Understanding the color-managed workflow
      6m 51s
    8. Establishing the optimal Color Settings
      6m 50s
  2. 1h 11m
    1. Illustrator's oldest dynamic functions
      1m 28s
    2. Creating a multicolor blend
      7m 12s
    3. Establishing a clipping mask
      5m 40s
    4. Reinstating the colors of a clipping path
      8m 1s
    5. Editing individual blended paths
      4m 44s
    6. Adjusting the number of steps in a blend
      7m 15s
    7. Fixing problems with the Blend tool
      4m 2s
    8. Blending different levels of opacity
      4m 45s
    9. Editing the spine of a blend
      5m 3s
    10. Adding a custom spine to any blend
      5m 5s
    11. Advanced blending and masking techniques
      6m 18s
    12. Blending between entire groups
      3m 2s
    13. Adjusting the speed of a blend
      3m 21s
    14. Rotating objects in 3D space
      5m 36s
  3. 1h 0m
    1. Illustrator's logo-making features
      1m 8s
    2. Customizing a single character of type
      5m 25s
    3. Combining a letterform with a path outline
      7m 48s
    4. Creating logo type along an open path
      5m 3s
    5. Creating logo type around a closed circle
      3m 57s
    6. Vertical alignment, orientation, and spacing
      4m 55s
    7. Warping logo type around a circle
      6m 56s
    8. Creating a classic neon type effect
      5m 39s
    9. Adding random neon brightness fluctuations
      5m 19s
    10. Creating neon "block outs" between letters
      7m 44s
    11. Adding neon blur and bokeh in Photoshop
      6m 16s
  4. 46m 19s
    1. Generating colors using harmony rules
      1m 31s
    2. Introducing the Color Guide panel
      5m 16s
    3. The 23 color harmony rules, diagrammed
      8m 16s
    4. Mixing and matching color harmonies
      5m 59s
    5. Color groups and custom harmony rules
      6m 18s
    6. Working in the Edit Colors dialog box
      7m 4s
    7. Expanding on an existing harmony rule
      6m 51s
    8. Constraining colors to a predefined library
      5m 4s
  5. 32m 44s
    1. Changing lots of colors all at once
      1m 2s
    2. Introducing the Recolor Artwork command
      4m 58s
    3. Recoloring with the help of swatch groups
      4m 35s
    4. Changing the color-assignment order
      6m 44s
    5. Reducing the number of colors in your art
      5m 7s
    6. Applying tints and shades of a single swatch
      5m 37s
    7. Recoloring artwork that contains gradients
      4m 41s
  6. 1h 15m
    1. Painting with path outlines
      1m 24s
    2. Introducing the Brushes panel
      4m 25s
    3. Applying and editing a calligraphic brush
      7m 34s
    4. Applying and scaling an art brush
      6m 12s
    5. Applying and editing a scatter brush
      5m 31s
    6. Formatting and scaling brushed text
      5m 45s
    7. Designing a custom art brush
      7m 35s
    8. Creating (or replacing) an art brush
      6m 42s
    9. Refining a brush to fit ends and corners
      4m 11s
    10. Expanding, filling, and stroking a brush
      7m 4s
    11. Type on a path vs. text as an art brush
      7m 3s
    12. Distorting text with the Width tool
      8m 49s
    13. Infusing your artwork with a tile pattern
      3m 13s
  7. 58m 24s
    1. The many forms of transparency
      1m 38s
    2. Creating translucency with the Opacity value
      4m 21s
    3. Darken, Multiply, and Color Burn
      6m 15s
    4. Lighten, Screen, and Color Dodge
      5m 8s
    5. Overlay, Soft Light, Hard Light, Difference, and Exclusion
      4m 59s
    6. Hue, Saturation, Color, and Luminosity
      5m 12s
    7. Combining the effects of multiple blend modes
      6m 42s
    8. Isolating blending and Knockout Group
      7m 37s
    9. Combining blend modes with dynamic effects
      7m 25s
    10. Exporting transparency from Illustrator
      9m 7s
  8. 1h 39m
    1. The Layers panel for dynamic attributes
      1m 4s
    2. Applying attributes in the Appearance panel
      6m 15s
    3. Creating depth using translucent strokes
      5m 37s
    4. Adding, layering, and offsetting strokes
      6m 12s
    5. Duplicating entire groups of attributes
      7m 55s
    6. Turning stacked strokes into editable paths
      5m 43s
    7. Simplifying a multi-stroke effect
      6m 31s
    8. Applying the Convert to Shape effect
      7m 47s
    9. Adding aligned patterns and shadows
      8m 16s
    10. Drawing with arrowheads and angled strokes
      8m 49s
    11. Employing overlapping gradient strokes
      8m 25s
    12. Drawing circular stroke elements
      10m 13s
    13. Outlining an entire multi-stroke effect
      8m 39s
    14. Creating seamless wood grain in Photoshop
      8m 11s
  9. 1h 12m
    1. The best features in Illustrator
      1m 38s
    2. Repeating a series of transformations
      6m 18s
    3. Adjusting and updating a dynamic effect
      6m 37s
    4. Applying a stroke to an entire layer
      6m 24s
    5. Improving the performance of drop shadows
      5m 40s
    6. Applying a single effect multiple times
      6m 10s
    7. Creating an intricate Spirograph pattern
      7m 10s
    8. Adding scalloped edges with Pucker & Bloat
      4m 40s
    9. Applying a dynamic Pathfinder to a layer
      3m 56s
    10. Creating beveled ornaments
      6m 50s
    11. Creating a sculptural type effect
      5m 59s
    12. Subtracting editable text from a path
      7m 6s
    13. Editing text inside a dynamic effect
      4m 25s
  10. 27m 40s
    1. Never remember anything again, ever
      1m 41s
    2. The pixel-based Effect Gallery
      3m 53s
    3. Copying effects from one layer to another
      4m 44s
    4. Introducing the Graphic Styles panel
      4m 11s
    5. Correcting previews in the Effect Gallery
      4m 36s
    6. Adjusting the resolution of your effects
      4m 0s
    7. Combining and saving graphic styles
      4m 35s
  11. 1h 13m
    1. Two powerful graphics programs combine forces
      1m 5s
    2. Creating a perfectly centered star shape
      6m 52s
    3. Precisely scaling concentric circles
      7m 47s
    4. Adding reflective highlights with the Flare tool
      6m 23s
    5. Two ways to rasterize vector art for Photoshop
      7m 37s
    6. Importing vector art as a Smart Object
      6m 47s
    7. Creating a lens flare effect in Photoshop
      7m 56s
    8. Photographic texture and brushed highlights
      6m 26s
    9. Modifying a vector Smart Object in Illustrator
      6m 33s
    10. Converting Illustrator paths to shape layers
      6m 27s
    11. Assign layer effects to native shape layers
      5m 55s
    12. Completing a work of photorealistic art
      3m 46s
  12. 1m 5s
    1. Until next time
      1m 5s

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