Who’s got the time to do lengthy typography tutorials? Or the cash to splash on Photoshop actions?

Here at InDesignSkills we’re all about making your life easier, while picking up some awesome new design skills along the way. Read on to find out how you can create a light-up neon text effect directly in InDesign in under 5 minutes.neon sign text effect glow light-up indesign typography


How to Create a Neon Effect


Light-up neon type is fantastic for adding nighttime glamour or a moody 1980s feel to your designs. This sort of text effect would look great on a poster or event flyer, and it’s so easy to do!

Step 1

I’ve set up the effect pictured here on a landscape A3 page (go to File > New > Document), though of course feel free to adapt the page size to suit your own purposes.

Expand the Layers panel (Window > Layers) and rename Layer 1 as Background. Use the Rectangle Tool (M) to create a shape that extends across the whole of the page.

For the text effect to have impact, you’ll need to give the rectangle a dark fill. Opt for [Black] in the Swatches panel (Window > Color > Swatches), or to recreate the color used here, click on New Color Swatch in the panel’s drop-down menu. Double-click the new swatch to edit it, setting the CMYK values to C=85 M=76 Y=61 K=93.neon sign text effect glow light-up indesign typography swatches

Step 2

In the Swatches panel create a further two new swatches:

Dark Pink – C=10 M=100 Y=0 K=0neon sign text effect glow light-up indesign typography

Pale Pink – C=5 M=12 Y=0 K=0neon sign text effect glow light-up indesign typography

We’ll use these to layer up the dark and light tones of the neon effect. If you want the neon effect to be a different color, say blue, create two swatches in the same way, one dark blue, one pale blue.

Step 3

Head back to the Layers panel and lock the Background layer. Create a new layer above and name it Typography.

Take the Type Tool (T) and create a large text frame in the center of the page. Type in your text, and from either the Controls panel at the top of the workspace or the Character panel (Window > Type & Tables > Character), choose your preferred Font. To create a more authentic neon sign effect, I’ve gone for a script font, Burtons Script.

From the Swatches panel, set the Font Color to Dark Pink. Once you’re happy with the size, position, font and color of the text, you’re ready to outline the text. Note that this means you won’t be able to adjust the formatting of the text, so Edit > Copy, Edit > Paste the text frame, moving the copy over to the pasteboard to preserve a copy of your text if you like.neon sign text effect glow light-up indesign typography

Step 4

Select the original text frame and go to Type > Create Outlines, to vectorize the text.neon sign text effect glow light-up indesign typography

Edit > Copy, Edit > Paste the vector, moving the copy over to the pasteboard. We’ll be using this a little later.

With the vector selected, go to Object > Effects > Outer Glow. Set the Mode to Screen, Opacity to about 20%, Noise to 3% and Spread to 70%. Click on the colored square to the right of the Mode menu to open the Effect Color window. Choose Dark Pink from your list of Swatches.

Click OK to exit the Effects window.neon sign text effect glow light-up indesign typography

Step 5

Select the vector and Edit > Copy, Edit > Paste in Place, layering it directly over the first vector.

Go to Object > Effects > Outer Glow and increase the Opacity to 80% and bring the Spread down to about 40%.neon sign text effect glow light-up indesign typography effectsneon sign text effect glow light-up indesign typography

Step 6

You can now start to build up the lighter tones in your neon effect.

Head over to the pasteboard and select the vectorized version of the text you pasted over there back in Step 4. Select it and Edit > Copy it, moving the copy over onto the page and positioning it directly over the top of the other text vectors.

Adjust the Fill of this new vector to Pale Pink.neon sign text effect glow light-up indesign typography

Then head up to Object > Effects > Transparency. Set the Mode to Screen and pull the Opacity down to 70%.neon sign text effect glow light-up indesign typography effects

Click on Outer Glow in the window’s left-hand menu and set the Mode to Screen and Opacity to about 65%. Choose Pale Pink for the Effect Color.neon sign text effect glow light-up indesign typography effects

Click on Drop Shadow at the top of the window’s menu and set the Mode to Multiply, Opacity to about 40% and the Effect Color to Dark Pink.neon sign text effect glow light-up indesign typography

Add a final effect to this vector by clicking on Gradient Feather at the bottom of the window’s menu. Choose Radial for the Type, and then click OK to exit the Effects window.neon sign text effect glow light-up indesign typography gradientneon sign text effect glow light-up indesign typography

Step 7

To make the neon effect really pop, we can add a final layer of light over the top of the text effect.

To do this go to Edit > Paste to drop another copy of the vectorized text onto the page. Position directly over the top of the other vectors, and adjust the Fill to Pale Pink.neon sign text effect glow light-up indesign typography

Go to Object > Effects > Transparency, and set the Mode to Screen and Opacity to 50%.neon sign text effect glow light-up indesign typography transparency

Click on Outer Glow and choose Screen for the Mode and Pale Pink for the Effect Color. Reduce the Opacity to about 50%, and increase the Spread to 40%. Click OK to exit the window.neon sign text effect glow light-up indesign typography

And you’re done! This cool neon text effect will really make your designs pop—why not try using it on a gig or club flyer for extra impact?

neon sign text effect glow light-up indesign typography

Want to pick up some new typography skills? Browse beginner tutorials to find simple tips and tricks to make your type designs look super professional.