How to create a Vintage Light Bulb Sign in Adobe Photoshop

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This tutorial will show you how to use a bulb image, with some textures and layer styles, to create a fabulous, bright illuminated text effect in Photoshop.

Tutorial assets:

1. Create the background

Step 1

Create a new 900 x 600px document, and duplicate the Background layer.


Step 2

Double-click the Background copy layer to apply a Gradient Overlay effect with these settings:

  • Style: Radial
  • Scale: 150%

Click the Gradient box to create the gradient using the colors #363636 to the left and #121212 to the right


You should get a simple gradient fill for the background.


2. Create the Text

Step 1

Create the text in All Caps using the font Panton Black Caps. Set the Size to 200pt, and the Color to #230504.


Step 2

Duplicate the text layer.


3. Style the main text layer

Double-click the copy text layer to apply the following layer style:

Step 1

- Bevel and Emboss

  • Technique: Chisel Hard
  • Depth: 1000
  • Size: 5
  • Uncheck the Use Global Light box
  • Angle: 48
  • Altitude: 11
  • Gloss Contour: Cove - Shallow
  • Check the Anti-aliased box
  • Highlight Mode: Vivid Light
  • Opacity: 59%
  • Shadow Mode: multiply
  • Opacity: 50%

Step 2

- Contour

  • Contour: Rolling Slope - Descending
  • Check the Anti-aliased box.
  • Range: 60%


Step 3

- Inner Shadow

  • Opacity: 28%
  • Distance: 0
  • Choke: 3
  • Size: 16


Step 4

- Drop Shadow - 1

  • Opacity: 100%
  • Uncheck the Use Global Light box
  • Angle: 132
  • Distance: 8
  • Spread: 27
  • Size: 5


Step 5

Click the + sign next to the Drop Shadow tab to add a new instance, then select the tab at the bottom, and use the following settings:

- Drop Shadow - 2

  • Opacity: 100%
  • Uncheck the Use Global Light box
  • Angle: 132
  • Distance: 10
  • Spread: 0
  • Size: 24

This will style the main text.

4. Add the text glow

Step 1

Double-click the original text layer to apply an Outer Glow effect using the following settings:

  • Blend Mode: Soft Light
  • Opacity: 100%
  • Color: #e9aa78
  • Size: 79

This will add some glow to the text.


5. Add the bulbs

Step 1

Open the Bulb image, and pick the Elliptical Marquee Tool, then click and drag to select the bulb.

You can press and hold the Space key while doing so to move the selection.

Once you’re done, go to Edit > Copy.


Step 2

Now go back to the original document, go to Edit > Paste, and place the bulb’s layer on top of all layers.

Press the Command-T keys to enter the Free Transform Mode, then move the bulb and scale it down until you like how it fits within the letter.

Place the bulb at the bottom of a straight letter’s side (if you have one), then hit the Return key to accept the changes.


Step 3

Duplicate the bulb layer, pick the Move Tool, and use the Up Arrow Key to move the copies in order to fill the letter’s side with the number of bulbs you like, depending on the size you have.

Don’t worry about the spacing between the bulbs, just make sure that the ones at the top and bottom are placed exactly where you want them to be.


Step 4

Select all the bulb layers you have, then click the Distribute vertical centers icon in the Options bar to get an even vertical spacing between the bulbs.


6. Fill the text with the bulbs

Step 1

With all the bulb layers selected, press and hold the Option key, then click and drag the bulbs to copy and move them. You can also press and hold the Shift key while doing so to maintain the alignment of the copy layers.

Repeat that to fill all the straight vertical sides you have.


Step 2

After that, select any of the bulb layers, then check the Auto-Select box in the Options bar, and choose Layer from the menu.

Press and hold the Option key, then click and drag to start duplicating and adding bulbs to the non-straight parts of the text.

The Auto-Select option will help you select any bulb by clicking it directly, without the need to select its layer, which will make selecting and positioning the bulbs much more easier.


Step 3

Once you’re done, place all the bulb layers in a group and call it Lights.


7. Style the bulbs

Double-click any of the bulb layers to apply the following layer style:

Step 1

- Inner Shadow

  • Blend Mode: Screen
  • Color: #dcad62
  • Opacity: 100%
  • Distance: 0
  • Size: 35


Step 2

- Inner Glow

  • Blend Mode: Vivid Light
  • Opacity: 70%
  • Color: #f6f3e2
  • Source: Center
  • Size: 2


Step 3

- Outer Glow

  • Opacity: 100%
  • Color: #ffa769
  • Size: 17

Step 4

Right-click the styled bulb’s layer, and choose Copy Layer Style.


Step 5

Select the rest of the bulb layers you have, right-click any of them, and choose Paste Layer Style.

This is optional, but you can remove the Outer Glow effect for some random bulbs to make the effect look more interesting.


8. Adjust the bulbs’ coloring

Step 1

Click the Create new fill or adjustment layer icon at the bottom of the Layers panel and choose Hue/Saturation. Make sure to place the adjustment layer on top of the Lights group.


Step 2

Click the Clip to layer icon, then change the Hue to -3, the Saturation to 25, and the Lightness to -2.


9. Add the sparks

Step 1

Place one of the Fireworks (sparks) images on top of all layers you have, and scale it down until you like how it looks with the text.


Step 2

Change the layer’s Blend Mode to Screen, and place the image on top of one of the bulbs.


Step 3

Add a couple more sparks to some other bulbs, then group all the sparks images you have.


10. Add the background texture

Step 1

Place the I81 Macauley Pt - Grey Door 3 image on top of the Background copy layer, and resize it as needed, then change its layer’s Blend Mode to Soft Light.


Step 2

Use the Spot Healing Brush Tool, or the Healing Brush Tool, to get rid of any unwanted parts of the texture.


Step 3

Add a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer, clip it to the texture, then change the Hue to -11 and the Saturation to -35.


Step 4

Add a Levels adjustment layer, click the Clip to layer icon, then change the Gamma value to 0.35, and the Highlight output level value to 232.


10. Adjust the coloring of the final result

Step 1

Add a Gradient Map adjustment layer on top of all layers, and create a gradient fill using the colors #937476 to the left, #d9a785 in the center, #eccf9a to the right.

Then, change the layer’s Blend Mode to Soft Light and its Opacity to 50%.


Step 2

Add a Color Balance adjustment layer, then use the following settings:

- Midtones (-15, 3, -25)

- Highlights (17, -6, -11)



And you’re done! Using some images, layer styles, and adjustment layers, we created a nice illuminated text effect, that can be added to any design you have and make it look more interesting. Please feel free to share your work in the comments section below.


Now you can show the world what you have learned.

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