Evoking glitz, glamor and a good time, neon is making a comeback. But did it ever really go away?
It may be simple, but a neon effect can have an enormous impact on your work. From neon signage to ads with a day-glow effect, neon is eye-catching, electric and synonymous with a good night out! To give your design a helping hand, check out the best neon effects for Photoshop.
What Are Neon Effects?
Way back in 1857, the glassblower Heinrich Geissler passed an electric current through a glass tube filled with neon gas. A crimson glow was produced, and the neon effect was born. It didn’t take long for canny marketers to realize that these colorful lights could be used to advertise anything and everything under the sun. Diners, movie theaters, pharmacies, arcades, tattoo parlors, you name it. A humming neon sign has perched atop it, enticing generations of passersby to enter the threshold.
Although neon is a vintage technology, the aesthetic feels as fresh as ever. Indeed, from catwalks to car showrooms, neon effects are back with a vengeance in 2020. And frankly, what’s not to like? Neon can be cozy and inviting as a classic 50s diner or as bold and synthetic as an 80s spandex jumpsuit. No matter how you use it, neon is easy to love and impossible to ignore. But before we dive into how neon effects can help to take your branding to the next level, let’s take a look at why fluorescent tubes are having a bit of a moment in 2020.
The Return of Neon
No one contests the fact that neon effects are visually striking. Artists as diverse as Kraftwerk and Demi Lovato have written odes to the phantasmagoric beauty of the neon city at night. But there’s another reason neon continues to tug on twenty-first-century imaginations. Neon effects are resurgent in 2020 for the same reason chokers were big in 2018 and Transformers is somehow still on at the multiplex: nostalgia sells. It sells to the extent that a whole industry has emerged which flies under the flag of ‘nostalgia marketing.’
But what is it about neon that makes people so nostalgic? Well, from the glitz and the glamor of the Las Vegas Strip to the 80s retro-futuristic cityscapes of Blade Runner and Tron, neon first and foremost evokes the shimmering world of twentieth-century consumer culture. As a symbol of post-war prosperity, neon also evokes nostalgia for an innocent, space-age optimism with which we’ve long since parted company. Of course—as the cyberpunk or Martin Scorcese fans among you will be well aware—this association can be used to ironic effect. After all, what is the flickering neon sign if not an unmistakable symbol of urban decline? Whether it is deployed with a wink and nod or not, the effect is a powerful one.
For an example of the ongoing predilection for neon in contemporary visual culture, we need only look to the Emmy Award-winning Black Mirror episode ‘San Junipero.’ This was the most beloved and celebrated episode of the show to date, and it’s no coincidence that neon hues feature prominently within that episode as a symbol of the boundless optimism and carefree hedonism of an idealized youth spent in discos, diners, and arcades. Alongside the undeniable visual impact, these nostalgic cultural and emotional signifiers are what make neon such an effective aesthetic to deploy in your branding.
How to Make a Neon Effect in Photoshop
Who doesn’t want to see their brand name up in lights, and who doesn’t want to bask in the glow of a gorgeous neon effect? Exactly. That’s why the team over at Envato Tuts+ have lovingly handcrafted a majestic, step-by-step guide to creating neon effects for your brand in Photoshop. If the very thought of dealing with all of those intimidating buttons and panels on the Photoshop dashboard has you hyperventilating a bit, we get it, but have no fear. The guide is oh-so-simple and there’s even an (infinitely rewindable) video to accompany you along the way.
Otherwise, it’s time we took our seats for the main event. We’ve selected ten of the most ten jaw-dropping neon effects this side of Vegas, and we can’t wait to share them with you. Enjoy!
10. Neon Photoshop Action by Sko4
With three different tube sizes, eight neon colors, and with a crystal clear YouTube tutorial to explain how everything fits together, you’re never going to be left in the dark with this gorgeous neon effect.
9. Neon Text by mixmedia87
This vector neon layer style is beautifully arranged and easy to customize. Add your text, flip the switch, and see it all lit up like Times Square on Christmas Eve.
8. Neon Layer Styles by Erigonn
This neon layer style is sleek, elite, and infinitely customizable. Perfect for a classy establishment. You know the type. No shirt, no shoes, no service.
7. 80’s Retro Text Effects vol. 1 by IndWorks
A sumptuous collection of synth-wave staples which includes everything you need for creating beautiful 80’s inspired text art: neon, grids, sunsets, and glowing abstract geometry coupled with more cyan and pink than you can shake a stick at.
6. Neon Sign Styles V4 by mixmedia87
We thought ‘what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas’? Clearly, the artist behind these bold and beautiful Nevada-inspired neon signs failed to receive that particular message. Lucky you.
5. RETRO WAVE BRUSH FOR PROCREATE by Sizimon-id
Palm trees, gradients, glittering skyscrapers, and vintage cars combine to make this scintillating neon brush pack a perfect fit for your club night, rap debut, or illegal street race.
4. Lucent Photoshop Action by sevenstyles
With a couple of clicks, Lucent swathes any subject in neon text and electric sparks. It’s a surefire recipe for dynamism and excitement. We can’t recommend this one highly enough.
3. Neon Light Mobile & Desktop Lightroom Presets by creativetacos
Inject some neon magic into your photography with these vivid and dramatic Lightroom presets.
2. Neon Sign Photoshop Effect by pixelbuddha_graphic
An intoxicating collection of late-nite neon signs. Into dive bars, fast food joints, and comedy clubs? You’ll be into these.
1. 8 Cyberpunk Aesthetics Photoshop Actions and LUTs by sparklestock
If you want your nighttime cityscapes to look like Neo-Tokyo in the year 2247, these thrilling cyberpunk-inspired Photoshop actions are just what the cyborg doctor ordered.
In the era of efficient LEDs and intricate Edison bulbs, we can’t seem to get enough of our old friend the neon light. We’re sure your audience feels the same way, so get experimenting with the gorgeous neon effects that we’ve lovingly curated for you here today, crank up the voltage, and watch your brand new neon aesthetic transform your image overnight.
Neon effects were designed from the bottom up to catch the eye of the discerning customer. Did one of ours catch yours? Get unlimited access to each and every one of the neon effects featured on our list with a subscription to Envato Elements.
And don’t forget to subscribe to the Envato YouTube channel.