How to Add Neon Text in After Effects CC

After Effects 06/06/2019 4 min read

In this tutorial, you’ll learn how to add neon text in After Effects CC. This text effect is bold and dynamic. Adding it into your next video project can make it really stand out — plus, it’s pretty simple to do. Let’s dive in!

How to Add a Neon Text Effect

Step 1: Make a New Composition

You’ll want to begin by making a new composition that’s 1920×1080 29.97 fps. Inside the new composition, create a new text layer and use your desired copy. For this example, we’ll use the word “Neon” and make the color a light blue. The perfect font for this text is a free font called Beon. With the text layer selected, go to Layer > Pre-compose, and name the new composition something like “Type.” 

Step 2: Create the Glow Layers

Duplicate the text comp, and name the duplicate “Glow 1.” 

With Glow 1 selected, go to Effect > Blur > Fast Box Blur. In the Fast Box Blur settings change the Blur Radius to 3. Change the Blending Mode of the Glow 1 layer from Normal to Add. This is the first of several glow layers so before duplicating again, parent “Glow 1” to the Text Comp

Now duplicate “Glow 1” to create a new glow layer, and name it “Glow 2.” In the “Glow 2” Fast Box Blur settings, change the Blur Radius to 15

Duplicate the Text Comp layer and rename the duplicate “Stroked Text.” 

With the Stroked Text layer selected, go to Layer > Layer Styles > Stroke. Set the size of the Stroke to 20 and use the same color as the text for the color. With the Stroked Text layer still selected, go to Layer > Pre-compose. Call the new composition something like “Wide Glow” and check the box for Move all attributes into the new composition

On the Wide Glow layer, change the blending mode to Lighten and the Opacity to 75%. With the Wide Glow layer still selected go to Effect > Blur & Sharpen > Gaussian Blur. In the Gaussian Blur settings, change the Blurriness to 750 to get a wide glow. Parent the Wide Glow layers to the original Text layer. Drag the Wide Glow layer below the Text Comp. That wraps up all the glows!

Step 3: Create a Glass Tubing Effect

The next step is getting the glass tubing around the letters. To get started, duplicate the Text Comp and name the duplicate something like “Caustics.” Drag this layer below the type. 

With the Caustics layer selected, go to Effect > Simulation > Caustics. In the Caustics settings, change the Bottom layer to None. In the Water settings, change the Water Surface to the Type layer, the Surface Opacity to 0, the Wave Height to .200, Water Depth to .200, and the Refractive Index to 1.300. In the Lighting settings, change the Light Intensity to 0. You should really see the neon text look start to take form!

Now, parent the Caustics layer back to the original Text Comp. Drag it below the Text Comp layer, but above the Wide Glow. Nicely done!

Step 4: Add an Animated Light Flicker

To add an animated flicker, select all three glow layers and pull up the Opacity with T on the keyboard. 

On the “Glow 1” layer, Option + click the Opacity and use the pick whip to attach it to the Opacity in “Glow 2.” On the Wide Glow layer, do the same thing but add a times 0.75 to the end of the expression, so that the Wide Glow is always 75% of the other glows. Move your playhead to Frame 10 and set a keyframe for 0% Opacity for “Glow 2.”

At Frame 15, set another keyframe for 100%. Continue making adjustments at five frame intervals. At Frame 20, set to 30%, Frame 25 to 100%, Frame 30 to 65%, then change Frame 35 to 100%. Highlight all the keyframes and apply and Easy Ease

Step 5: Change the Neon Color (Optional)

The last step is optional, but very useful! You can add a color control layer so that you can quickly change the color of the neon with one simple control. 

To do this, go to Layer > New > Null Object and call the new null something like “Color Control.”

With the null still selected, go to Effect > Expression Controls > Color Control. Now within the Effect Controls panel, click the Lock button so that it stays there even when you click away from that layer.  

Double click to go inside your Type Comp. Twirl down the type layer, and add an Animator > Fill Color > RGB. Now Option + click the stopwatch for Fill Color, and use the pick whip to connect it to Color Control value.

Go back out to the neon text comp. Then, go into the Wide Glow, and twirl that down until you get to the Stroke. From here, Option + click on the color for that stroke. Use the pick whip and drag it up to the Color Control value, as well. 

Now all of the colors are attached, you just need to change the color. Just click and drag and the color will be completely adaptive!

Step 6: Add a Background (Optional)

Now all that’s left is to add a background of your choice and you’re good to go!

Neon text can be used in a variety of scenarios. Whether you’re trying to spice up your title, draw attention to a certain piece of text or brighten up a social media video, neon text can be your best friend. And it’s super easy to do! But if you’re short on time, check out our extensive library of neon text effects!

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