Join Von Glitschka for an in-depth discussion in this video Create a neon sign illustration, part of Drawing Vector Graphics Laboratory.
- [Instructor] Welcome to Drawing Vector Graphics Laboratory. In this movie, our final art will mimic life. I never know where inspiration is going to come from. I just try to be ready for it when it appears, and do what I can to capture it, that's really important. This movie will document just that, a momentary interlude of curiosity that led to a fun creative design. So let's jump into this, this is going to be a blast.
Now I love neon artwork. This is a photograph from downtown Hong Kong, all kinds of colorful neon artwork showing here, but you don't have to travel around the world to find really cool neon artwork. You just have to be kind of open to it, and aware of your surroundings, and always be observing, that's the key to creativity. Now when I went to a movie with a friend, I left the movie theater, it was about 10:00 at night, I'm walking down the street, and I go by this restaurant, and this is a small little town in Oregon, and I notice this neon sign hanging in the window, and I'm like "Whoa, that is so cool!" So I took a picture of it, and I immediately thought "I have to create a DVG Lab that walks through the process "of how to create a cool neon-looking sign." So that's what we're going to do now.
It all starts with drawing, and in this case, it's symmetric drawing. We only have to draw half of it, then we can flip it and create the rest of it. Now the beauty of this style is all we're drawing is lines, becasue the lines are going to represent the actual tubes that are going to be bent to give us that look and feel that neon is so closely associated with. So we're going to select this artwork, I'm going to go ahead and just punch in 20% for opacity, we'll lock that layer, and you can see these simple strokes.
We're not dealing with any shape, with any fill color of the shape, it's just strokes that we're working with. And because we're creating in a symmetric style, we can just select the half of the artwork we need. In this case, we don't even need his chin, we don't need this part, or this part, or the tail, for that matter. We can take all of these elements, clone 'em, Command + C, Command + F, find, using the Reflect tool, find a central anchor point, and with Smart Guides turned on, Command + U, select that, flip it, and clone it, and you can see how quickly this goes in order of figuring out your composition.
Now once again, we're dealing with strokes, so it's important to get an authentic weight and look to our strokes that's going to represent our neon artwork. So we're going to select this, and we're going to open up the Strokes pallet. Right now it's at a one, so what we're going to do is we're just going to go up, and let's try eight, we'll zoom in on this, just so we can get a good look at, I think that's a little too fat, so let's go down, I think that's good. But right now you can see the end caps on everything, it's cut off, it's straight, and that doesn't have an authentic look to it, so we want to change our end cap to a round.
And oh, that looks really, really good. Now because we did this, there's some areas that are pinching, meaning they're getting too close together. The one consistent thing you should keep in mind is that when you look at a neon, so always go back to your reference, notice when it gets close to another one, there's enough gap there, because the tube actually has to bend around something. So keep that in mind as you're working out the adjustment to your weights and your negative space in between the elements that represent the tubes.
So if we go up to the top here, you can see the top of the horn, it's just getting too close to the top of his head, so we'll need to adjust that. And by the way, since we're working symmetrically, we can just toss one of these, 'cause we'll just take what we correct and re-reflect it. So we'll take this Scissors, and in this case I just want to chop off this end, just to add enough space there to make sense. Once we've done that, we can clone it, Command + C, Command + F, find a central spot, and re-reflect it over there.
And so that's all we'll do, is we'll go through our entire design, look for areas, and a lot of areas here in the teeth are way too close, so we'll take the Scissor tool, and I'll go in, and I'm just going to make edits to these teeth. I'm doing neon dental work, I guess. And then we can just select all these elements that we edited, like this, and that looks better. We can select these two and get rid of it, because we can just clone these and re-reflect them off of a central point to get what we need on the right.
So that's all I'm going to do, is I'm going to go through my entire design. I think right here on the flames is another area that it's getting pinched, and at the bottom here, those need to be fixed. And I'm going to address all of those to balance out the space, and so that's what I've done here. So if you look at the balanced compared to the non-balanced, you can see where I've adjusted movements and space of those paths to improve the continuity of the look and feel of the artwork, to make sure it's going to work well. And it's at this point that I want to add type to it, 'cause I'm thinking of this as a sign.
Like "Well, what is it advertising?" Well, I think it'd be perfect for like a tattoo shop, so I've just created stylized type that looks like it would be if it was neon, meaning it has those gaps in it as if they bent the tube, but it matches the consistency and style of the artwork. And I think this is going to work really, really, really well. And so moving forward, we're going to go ahead and start coloring our artwork now. And when it comes to coloring your artwork, when you think of neon artwork, we can go ahead and color this initially, so we'll go ahead and just select some of these elements.
Once again, we're not doing any color fills. We're just coloring the tube, coloring the stroke, if you will. And so we're just selecting different elements here, and coloring the stroke of 'em. Our devil, of course, as all good devils are, are red, so we're going to select all those elements that are red. Part of his face, hands, let's see, like this, (clicks tongue) and we'll go ahead and color those red.
I probably should've used a different color than pink (laughing) when I was coloring this base art. I wasn't even thinking. That's okay, we'll color these red too. That's part of his nose. And then the flames, these will be a different color. These will be like this orange color. Ooh, that's looking kind of cool. And I think that, oops, don't forget the type. We'll color that red as well.
Pretty sure I got everything. But neon doesn't look, well, it doesn't look horrible on a white background, but obviously looks better on a dark background. So as soon as you add black to this, this is starting to look like neon. You can tell this is looking really cool. Now, I wanted to really push this over the top, and try to make it look at authentic as I could, and that's where I came up with the idea "Oh, I need to change the background. "We need to give it a more textured background." And then when you put the neon on top of it, how do we pull this off? When you look at neon, you really don't see that color of the tube itself, believe it or not.
If I turn these off, and we go back to our original, notice how what you actually see is you actually see a very light tint of that tube color, that almost looks white in a photograph like this, and you only see the outward side of the glow of that color on the tube itself. So we want to mimic that effect in our final artwork. So we're going to turn on our artwork here, and we're going to go ahead and select areas, such as we'll start off with the red tubes, everything, or the blue tubes, that is, everything that is blue.
And we're going to go to the color, and we're going to change the color fill to a 15% tint of that color. Now initially, I wasn't sure if this was going to work, but it was only after I forced myself, "Nah, do it," and I went through, and I selected all the colors, and I did this to it, that I'm like "Whoa." And I just, I'm getting excited just knowing I'm going to get to that point, so I can show you what that looks like.
And we'll go ahead and do the same to this, it'll be the same hue of 15%. You might be thinking "Well, you can't even notice any different." Just wait, you'll see. And here's, we'll turn that to 15%. And that's all we're doing is we're taking all these colors, and we're going to adjust the value for the stroke color itself to be a 15% of the base we established. So right now, our base color for this flame, for example, is this saturated kind of orangish-yellow, and we're just knocking that down to only 15% value of that yellow.
So that's what we end up with. And once again, you may be going "Well, that kind of looks lame." Well, watch this. So we're going to go directly underneath it, we have a copy of the exact same art before we changed the tint color, and this is where the magic is going to happen. We're going to go ahead and select all the paths here that are red, and we'll go ahead and deselect those that are not, such as the flames, and the teeth, and the eyes, and the horns, so all we have now is red colors selected.
So what we're going to do is we're going to go to Stroke, and we're going to knock these up quite a bit, to 20 points. Now that's pretty thick. But that's okay, that's what we want. And we're going to group this, so we're going to go Command + G to group it, then we're going to select these, and we're going to do the same here, 20. We'll go ahead and group that. We'll select these, and the teeth, like this, and we'll go 20 points, and we're going to group those as well.
And then we'll go ahead and select everything that's going to make up the flames, like this, and we're going to go 20 points as well, and we'll group that. So why'd we do that? Well, we're giving enough real estate, because we're going to eat away at this now. We're going to select this shape, the reds, and we're going to go up to Effect, we're going to pull down the Gaussian Blur, and on Gaussian Blur, we want to set this to like 22.
Look at what we get, is that not beautiful or what? We get this nice glow effect. So we're going to select the other elements, go up to Effect, Apply Gaussian Blur, the same Gaussian Blur, and we're going to take the eyes, Effect, Apply Gaussian Blur, take the flames, Effect, Apply Gaussian Blur, and look at how nice we can make those look now.
We're going to turn this off, we're going to turn our initial layer on, now watch how cool this looks when I turn on the glow effect. Boom, neon. Does that not look authentic? When I first saw this, I was going "Whoa, that is so cool, "I actually want a sign like this to hang in my office!" Now I even went a little crazier and created the framework to fall behind it. So if I turn that on, you can see what that looks like, and I even have chains up here to make it look like it's hanging off the wall. But it's a really fun way to pull off an authentic-looking neon artwork.
So this project was just a blast. And I want to create more neon designs in the future, and I'd love to get one created, an actual working sign. I encourage you to give this style a try, see what you can come up with, and see how authentic you can get with it. Thank you for watching DVG Lab. And until next time, never stop drawing.