Emulating a neon effect in Illustrator can be easily accomplished by using a versatile panel called Appearance. With this panel, you can create a wide range of effects, from a simple drop shadow to a 3d effect while keeping your original design intact. Today, I'll show you how easily you can emulate a basic neon glow effect in Illustrator using only this panel. Best part, you'll learn how to have this effect available on your toolbox to be used an unlimited number of times on any other text or graphic, without having to do the whole process all over again.
But before we begin, and if you want to follow this tutorial exactly as described, please download the Neon Tubes font designed by Tony Thomas right here at Medialoot: Download
Open Illustrator and make a new file at any size you want. In this case i will make mine at 1800 x 1200 px.
Select the Rectangle Tool (M) and draw a rectangle covering the whole artboard with any color you want. In this case, i will set the color to #f5cbd7.
Draw your graphic or using the Type Tool (T) type your text. In this case, i will be using the Neon Tubes font at 350 pt but you can use any font you want.
In the Tools Panel, set the fill and stroke to none.
With your graphic or text selected go to Window > Appearance.
Add 2 new strokes by clicking on the "Add New Stroke" icon.
Select the first stroke and set the Stroke Weight to 8 with a White color.
Click on the "Add New Effect" icon and from the dropdown menu select Blur > Gaussian Blur.
In the Gaussian Blur window set the Radius to 4 and click OK.
Select the second stroke and set the Stroke Weight to 4 with a White color.
With the second stroke still selected, click on the "Add New Effect" icon and from the dropdown menu select Stylize > Drop Shadow.
In the Drop Shadow window apply the following settings and click OK.
With the second stroke still selected, click again on the "Add New Effect" icon and from the dropdown menu select Stylize > Outer Glow.
In the Outer Glow window, set the Mode to "Screen" using a white color, the Opacity to 70% the Blur to 20 px and click OK.
To have this style available to be used on any other graphic, go to Window > Graphic Styles and (with your graphic or text still selected) click on the "New Graphic Style" icon.
To test the new graphic style, select the Rounded Rectangle Tool and draw a rectangle around your text as shown.
With the Rectangle selected, simply click on the new style in the Graphic Style window.