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  1. Design & Illustration
  2. Text Effects

Create a 3D Vintage Lightbulb Sign Using Illustrator, Cinema 4D, and Photoshop

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Read Time: 8 mins

Great-looking 3D typography often involves the use of several applications. In this tutorial, we will show you how to create a vintage lightbulb sign using Adobe Illustrator to create and export the basic paths, Cinema 4D to create the 3D render, and Photoshop for post-production. Let's get started!


1. Exporting Paths From Illustrator to Cinema 4D

Step 1

The first step in our project is to create the shape of the letter "G" in Adobe Illustrator. Create a new file. Select the Type Tool, set font to Tango BT and type text on new document.

Creating paths in illustratorCreating paths in illustratorCreating paths in illustrator

Step 2

In next step choose font > create outlines. Now you have shape of your letter, set fill and stroke to "none."

StrokeStrokeStroke

Step 3

After that, you have to export your shape to Cinema 4D. Select File > Save As and choose .ai format and save it for Adobe Illustrator 8. This is a really important step because if you save it for newer versions of Illustrator you won't be able to open it in Cinema 4D.

SaveSaveSave


2. Importing, Creating Sweep Nurbs

Step 1

Now start Cinema 4D. Select File > open from menu and open your saved letter "G." C4D will ask about some import parameters, we leave then as they are and click OK. Our letter which we did in AI is now in Cinema 4D as a Spline, we can modify it as we want.

Import paths from illustratorImport paths from illustratorImport paths from illustrator

Step 2

Now we must create sweep nurbs. From upper menu select "Circle",

SweepSweepSweep

In Attributes panel set radius to about 4 cm

SweepSweepSweep

Now again from upper menu choose sweep nurbs.

SweepSweepSweep

Step 2

That's everything what we need to do to create sweep nurbs. Now we have to attach both objects to sweep nurbs but remember, circle must be above letter object because if it is under we don't get what we wanted. And now we've done sweep nurbs.

SweepSweepSweep


3. Creating The Scene

Step 1

First, we have to create background for our project. So choose plane from upper menu.

BackgroundBackgroundBackground

Step 2

Set width to about 400 cm and height to about 650 cm and rotate our plane 90 degrees vertically.

BackgroundBackgroundBackground

Step 3

Now it's time to start creating our "G" letter. Select Text from upper menu and make letter G (font tango BT). Make it editable. Create new circle with radius about 2 cm and put it with text object as a child of Sweep NURBS.

GGG

Step 4

Copy object with text, create Extrude NURBS and set text object as a child of Sweep NURBS.

GGG

In Extrude NURBS attrbutes set movement to 2 cm.

GGG

Now it should look like this.

GGG

Step 5

Copy first Sweep NURBS object and in circle options set radius to 1 cm,

GGG

And move it a bit forward.

movemovemove

Step 6

Again copy text object from moved sweep nurbs and set it as a child of new Extrude NURBS

GGG

And set movement to 1 cm

GGG

Step 7

Create Null Object

nullnullnull

And put all created objects to that object and rename it to Base.

basebasebase

Step 8

Copy latest created Sweep NURBS, move it a bit in front of other objects again

copycopycopy

And in circle object check Ellipse and set radius Y to 3 cm.

elipseelipseelipse

Step 9

Again copy Sweep NURBS and move it again a bit forward.

copycopycopy

In circle attributes uncheck Ellipse and set radius to 2cm

uncheck elipseuncheck elipseuncheck elipse

In Sweep NURBS Attributes now we have to change End Growth to 60%

growthgrowthgrowth

Step 10

Copy latest Sweep NURBS and change only Attributes.

atributesatributesatributes

Step 11

Our work for the moment should look like this.

finalfinalfinal

Step 12

Again create a Null Object and put those Sweep NURBS to it.

nullnullnull

nullnullnull

Step 13

Now we have to create Neon splines. All of them are copies of latest Sweep NURBS only with other radius and circle Ellipse or not, with changed start and end growth. You can set it as you want.

animationanimationanimation

Step 14

Now we have to create something like screws. To do that, create a small Cylinder with settings like these.

screwsscrewsscrews

Create Cloner from upper menu MoGraph > Cloner. Make that Cylinder as a child of Cloner.

screws clonerscrews clonerscrews cloner

Step 15

Copy latest text object, move it forward. Click on Cloner with Cylinder and set Attributes as on picture below.

clonerclonercloner

In object part of these Attributes set copied Text object as Object which Cloner will suggest. It should look like this.

clonerclonercloner

Step 17

Now copy Text object and Cloner with Cylinder as a child, move it a bit forward. Change size of Cylinder to

cloner sizecloner sizecloner size

And in Cloner Attributes change object to duplicated text. Create new Null Object, rename it to Screws and put both Cloner objects and both text objects to that object.

cloner sizecloner sizecloner size

Step 18

Now that the screws are created, they should look like this. Most front-end Sweep NURBS objects should be getting by screws.

screws finalscrews finalscrews final

Step 19

Now we have to make bulbs. Select File > New. Press F3 (Change View Mode). Select Bezier Tool and create half of bulb.

bezier bulbbezier bulbbezier bulb

Now select Lathe Nurbs

lathe nurbslathe nurbslathe nurbs

And make created half of bulb as a child of Lathe NURBS. Now press F1 and we can see something like bulb.

lathe nurbs finlathe nurbs finlathe nurbs fin

Select Both objects and click "make editable." Now click on object and press CMD/CTRL + C. Select Window and on the bottom select project with G letter. Click CMD/CTRL + V.

lathe nurbs finlathe nurbs finlathe nurbs fin

Step 20

Turn Vertically that bulb and put it on a letter. Copy it as much as you want in G shape. Put them all to new Null Object and rename it to Bulbs.

GGG

Step 21

In the last step of creating Letter G, copy Sweep NURBS from Base and set Circle Attributes as shown below.

circle settcircle settcircle sett

And move it a bit backward. Back end should look similar to this.

circle settcircle settcircle sett


4. Creating Materials

Step 1

From material browser select create > shaders > VrayBridge > VrayAdvancedMaterial.

vray matvray matvray mat

Step 2

Double click on created material and set settings as on pictures below.

That's it. Now we have Black material and we need to create green and yellow materials. Click on created black material and copy that by shortcut CMD/CTRL + C, CMD/CTRL + V. Double click on copied material and in Diffuse Layer change color to green and do the same with yellow material.

  • Green: #75b624.
  • Yellow: #ede336.
vray matvray matvray mat

vray matvray matvray mat

vray matvray matvray mat

vray matvray matvray mat

Step 3

Now we need to create white background material. Again select create > shaders > VrayBridge > VrayAdvancedMaterial and set settings like that.

vray matvray matvray mat

vray matvray matvray mat

vray matvray matvray mat

And now we have all materials, which we need for our project. Apply all the materials to created objects. You should get similar result:

vray mat finvray mat finvray mat fin


5. Lighting and Rendering

Step 1

Create a new object. Add Object > Plane

vray matvray matvray mat

Step 2

Create a new VrayAdvancedMaterial set Diffuse Layer 1 to white and go to the Luminosity layer and apply these settings:

light matlight matlight mat

light matlight matlight mat

Step 3

Apply the materials on the two planes, put the first (slightly decrease the object) are on the right and second on the left side of the stage.

softboxessoftboxessoftboxes

Step 4

Open the file VRAY TUT SETTINGS.c4d.
Go to render > Edit render settings and copy render settings.

copy settcopy settcopy sett

Back to your document and go to the render settings and click Paste.

paste settpaste settpaste sett

Step 5

Hit render to picture viewer (Render > Render to picture viewer) and wait for the final render.

renderrenderrender

When file is rendered the project should looks very similar to this:

renderrenderrender


6. Postproduction in Photoshop

Step 1

Open the rendered file in Photoshop (I use CS6) and create new adjustment layer (adjustment layer > selective color).

photophotophoto

Step 2

In selective color menu choose Yellows and apply this settings:

Cyan: -50%
Magenta: + 20%
Yellow: + 5%
Black: 0%

yellowyellowyellow

Now go to the Greens section and apply the settings below.

Cyan: + 50%
Magenta: -19%
Yellow: + 40%
Black: + 10%

greengreengreen

After this operation, the project should look like this:

finfinfin

Step 3

Select the pen tool and start to create the shape of the color (# eff05b).
Change the opacity of the created shape to 50%.

penpenpen

Add a vector mask to the shape layer then grab a black soft brush and try to mask hard edges of the shape.

maskmaskmask

Repeat this step few times to create nice glass reflections on the letter.

mask finmask finmask fin

Step 4

Use the pen tool to create light splines, change the stroke size to 3pt and start make the shapes.

light splineslight splineslight splines

After creating a spline set the blending mode to Linear Dodge (Add).

light splineslight splineslight splines

light splineslight splineslight splines

Repeat this step few times to create a light effect.

light splineslight splineslight splines

Step 5

To light some bulbs use soft brush color (green # a2c44d, yellow # eacb32), then set the blending mode to Linear Dodge (Add).

bulbsbulbsbulbs

Step 6

To create a cable select pen tool and start drawing the black shapes. Then go to blending options and check Bevel and Emboss.
Change the depth to 250%
Size to 3px
Soften to 5px
Opacity white to 45%
Opacity black to 75%

bulbsbulbsbulbs

Repeat this step to create more cables.

bulbsbulbsbulbs


Conclusion

At this point, you are finished. If you would like to add some flat typography to your artwork to make a poster out if it, feel free to do so.

In this tutorial, you learned how to create a vintage 3D lightbulb sign using Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop, and Cinema 4D. I hope that you learned something from this tutorial that you can apply to your own work.

Creating paths in illustratorCreating paths in illustratorCreating paths in illustrator
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