PixelPerfect #117: Your Name in Lights!

Posted in Graphics, Podcasts on March 18, 2009

Learn how to create a sign made of lit bulbs using Adobe Photoshop - a simple process involving layer styles, type, masks, and clipping paths.

Build the sign base
Begin this project by creating a solid grey rectangle in a new layer. In a new layer, create a single bulb using a small circle marquee. Fill this circle with grey and create a pattern (select a rectangular marquee with a 1px padding, so that the circle pattern will have space between them, then choose Edit > Define Pattern). Fill your entire canvas with the bulb pattern in an empty layer, then apply clipping so the bulbs are contained within the grey rectangle base.

Add styling to the bulbs
To give the bulbs some depth and style, add a Drop Shadow, Inner Glow (dark), and Satin via Layer Styles.

Create letters
Add a bold, block style type in a new layer using a bright color, such as green. This layer should lay on top of the bulbs. Clip the type layer to the bulbs, and it will make the bulbs appear green, but not lit up. To make the letters fill the right bulbs, rasterize the type and use your brush to manually fill or remove in any necessary green areas.

Add bright light to the bulbs
Duplicate the type layer and remove the clip. This will appear pretty messy, but applying a mask of the bulbs will clean it up nicely. There will still be some extra green areas outside of the bulbs, so use the eraser tool to manually clean the letters up. Apply an Outer Glow and Inner Glow in Layer Styles to create the effect of light.

Add light reflection to the non-light bulbs
Finally, add a realistic reflection effect by applying an Outer Glow (bright green, soft technique, high opacity) to the originally clipped type layer.

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Tags: Photoshop, Design, sign, Revision3, PixelPerfect, Lights