Graphics Programs Reference
Let There Be Neon!
Neon lettering is a valuable element in commercial design, and
it requires a little skill and the Blend Tool to accomplish with
a degree of photorealism. What does neon actually look like?
For research, go to the Blarney Stone Pub on 9 th Avenue…
onnnnly kidding here. Neon tubing is quite brilliant at its core,
but the illumination tapers off at the edges of the tubing so you
can clearly see the edges of the glass. The effect itself is often
perceived as a glow behind the tubing, and the following steps
show you how to illustrate neon.
Open Neon motel sign.xar. The illustration of the scene is
locked on a layer and there are two groups of paths you can
select. You use the Blend Tool in the following steps to make
neon tubing to light up the classy motel sign. In your own
assignments, consider how to create the paths for any type of
neon effect, and be sure to read Chapter 3.
Manually, trace the center of a typed message or
drawing to serve as the core of the neon effect. Make
regular breaks in the path; in real life, neon messages
are often composed of two or more individual piece of
tubing. You group ( CTRL - G ) the paths as a final step.
You duplicate the path and give it a much wider outline
than the center, original group of paths. Then you ever-
so-slightly offset their positions so the final blend is not
exactly from the center but instead shows the hottest
part of the neon just a little to one side, suggesting
perspective to the audience.
You create a copy of the original before blending the first
two. Assign the duplicate a very wide outline width (1 inch
is usually good), and then choose Arrange | Convert Line To
Shape. The result is a shape that has no outline and it's used as a
final enhancement to the neon blend effect. Here's how to light
up a scene:
Zoom way in until you can clearly see a section of both
groups of paths. Using the Blend Tool is easiest when
you have a clear view of both target shapes. In the motel
illustration, a 600% zoom will do the trick.
Choose the Blend Tool, and then drag from the thick
to the thin path. On the Infobar, type at least 16 in the
Steps box for a smooth-looking effect and press ENTER .