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How to Create a Quick, Glamorous Light-Bulb Text Effect in Adobe InDesign

This post is part of a series called Text Effects in Adobe InDesign.
How to Create a Quick Letterpress Type Effect in Adobe InDesign
How to Create an Ice Text Effect in Adobe InDesign
Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

Ever wanted to see your name up in lights? With this super-quick typography tutorial, you can! 

This type effect can be adapted to any size or word, and would make a great addition to social media images, posters, or flyers. We’ll be creating the effect in Adobe InDesign using the program’s handy Effects panel, and it only takes ten minutes to do. 

So what are you waiting for? Let’s get started!

You can find lots of fantastic fonts for creating your type effects over on GraphicRiver and Envato Elements

1. How to Create a Night-Time Backdrop For Your Effect

Step 1

Open up InDesign and go to File > New > Document. You can create the type effect at any size you wish, but here I’m going to set up an A3 landscape page with the Intent set to Print

new document

Once you’ve set up the specs for your document, go ahead and click OK

Expand the Layers panel (Window > Layers) and double-click on the Layer 1 name. In the Options window, change the name to Background and click OK.

background layer

Step 2

Expand the Swatches panel (Window > Color > Swatches) and choose New Color Swatch from the panel’s drop-down menu.

Name the swatch Background Light, and set the Type to Process and Mode to CMYK. Set the levels to C=53 M=44 Y=55 K=37, and click Add and then OK.

swatch options

Create a second new CMYK swatch, naming it Background Dark and setting the levels to C=79 M=69 Y=61 K=88.

swatch options

Step 3

Take the Rectangle Tool (M) and drag across the whole page, before setting the Fill of the rectangle to Background Light from the Swatches panel. 

light rectangle

Create a second rectangle over the top of the first, extending the left and right sides past the edge of the page by about a quarter on each side. Set the Fill to Background Dark.

dark rectangle

With the top, darker rectangle selected, go to Object > Effects > Gradient Feather. Choose Radial from the Type drop-down menu and ensure the gradient extends from lighter at the center to darker towards the outer edges. 

gradient feather

2. How to Format Your Typography

Step 1

Head back to the Layers panel and lock the Background layer. Click on the Create New Layer button at the bottom of the panel to create a second layer, and double-click to rename it Typography


Step 2

Use the Type Tool (T) to create a text frame in the center of the page. Type in the text you want to apply the lit-up effect to; here I’ve gone for ‘LIGHT’, setting it in All Caps for extra impact. 

This effect tends to work best with simple, clean sans serif fonts. Here I’ve used Acre, and I've used the Character panel (Window > Type & Tables > Character) to increase the Font Size to around 200 pt, as well as increasing the Tracking to 150 to space out the letters a little. 

From the Swatches panel, set the main text color to Background Light. Then click on the text Stroke Color square (which you would usually not need to use for text), and set this to Background Dark.


Step 3

With the text frame selected, go to Object > Effects > Drop Shadow. Increase the Opacity of the shadow to 75%, Spread to 10%, and add a little Noise too. 

Click on the color square next to the Mode menu to open the Effect Color window, and choose Background Light, before clicking OK

drop shadow

Click on Bevel and Emboss in the Effects panel’s left-hand menu. Set the Style to Inner Bevel and Technique to Smooth. Increase the Opacity of the Highlight to about 50% and the Shadow Opacity to about 30%. Click OK to exit the window. 

bevel and emboss
light text

3. How to Light Up Your Text

Step 1

Lock the Typography layer and create a new layer above, Light

light layer

Create a new CMYK swatch called Orange, with the values C=8 M=49 Y=79 K=1.

orange swatch

Step 2

Select the Ellipse Tool (L) and, while holding Shift, drag to create a small circle which is around the width of the stem of one of the letters. 

Set the circle’s Fill to [Paper], and position it over the top of your first letter, as shown below.

circle white

With the circle selected, go to Object > Effects > Outer Glow. Set the Mode to Hard Light, the Effect Color to Orange, and the Opacity to 100%. Increase the Spread to around 50%, before clicking OK

outer glow

Step 3

Edit > Copy and Edit > Paste the circle repeatedly, positioning each ‘lightbulb’ along the stem of the letter and spacing them as evenly as you can. 

pasted circle

Continue to Paste groups of circles, using them to fill in all the letters, creating a complete lit-up effect. 

final effect

Conclusion: Your Finished Text Effect

Your type effect’s looking fantastic—awesome job! Now you’re ready to incorporate it into another layout, or simply enjoy it on its own. 

You can find more perfect fonts for creating type effects over on GraphicRiver and Envato Elements

final effect

Hungry for more super-quick text effects? Check out these InDesign Quick Tip typography tutorials:

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