In this tutorial, we show you how to create a quick neon effect in Pixelmator with some easy techniques.
Neon signs has been around forever and are quite addictive to look at. We will show you how to use some basic techniques to create the awesome neon glow to some simple text and shapes. These techniques can also be used for shapes and more complex arrangements; however for neon signs to look realistic, they need to look handmade, which also means minimalist more so than ornate designs will work better.
The final image
Here is what you will be able to create at the end of this tutorial.
Create a new document 1024x768px.
Create a new layer (or rename the base layer) as Background.
Fill this layer with black colour to emphasise the neon effect.
Add in a heart shape (CMD+Shift+V to open the vectormator shapes panel and find the heart shape) and fill it with a colour #ee634c – a nice flat colour.
Next duplicate the shape layer and place it directly underneath the previous shape layer. Select both shape layers, right-click, and convert to pixels.
Hide the top heart shape layer on the layers panel by unchecking the check box next to the layer. To the heart shape layer on the bottom, we are going to use a pre-built effect called Neon. It can be found in the Effects panel (CMD+3), under Other, and then Neon – use the following settings. The colour we choose is the same as before #ee634c.
You should now get something like the below, where only the outline is highlighted and it glows. It looks fine, but doesn’t have the same brilliance and addictive look of a neon sign yet.
Note that a quirk of the Neon effect is that your shape will be converted to pixels, but also the transparent background will turn black. It doesn’t matter as much in this tutorial as we are using a black background. If you do want to remove the black background, you can use the paint selection tool to select by colour and delete the black background.
Check the top heart shape layer on the layers panel to make it visible again. To the top heart shape layer, we are going to use a pre-built effect called City Lights. It can be found in the Effects panel (CMD+3), under Other, and then City Lights – use the following settings. The colour we choose is the same as before #ee634c.
You should get something like the below. Notice that the glow effect of the layer we applied the Neon effect hasn’t come through yet.
To fix this, we set the layer blending option for the top heart shape to Screen. We also suggest grouping the two heart layers at this stage.
Next let’s add in some text – create the two text objects in separate layers as follows and fill them with White colour.
For each text object layer, repeat the same steps as you did for the heart shape from Step Three to Step Five (duplicate text object, apply Neon effect to first layer, and City Lights to second layer, and apply layer blending) – only difference is that you will use White colour for text throughout. If you did this correctly, you should have something like this:
Now, take the heart shape that you created earlier, and resize it so that it fits nicely inline with the text. Because of the darker colour, the heart shape looks faded compared to the white text.
To fix this, we duplicate the heart shape group and place it directly underneath the previous layer to give it some extra strength glow. Now select the two heart groups, and group them into a single group at this stage. This should emphasise the heart shape and arrange them as shown, it makes a nice neon image.
The final step is to duplicate the heart group another two times, and arrange them over the letters.
After exporting it from Pixelmator, we have finished our final image.
You can have fun playing around with many different complex shapes and even the colours to create something magical.
Here is our Ninja Shape:
Or if you are feeling really creative, you can create a neon masterpiece in shapes, text, and colours – here is our multi-coloured dragon.
If you have any suggestions or ways to do this better, we’d love to hear from you guys.