A tutorial on creating a neon text effect using Photoshop Elements

In this tutorial you are going to be creating bright green neon text effect, You will do this by using an outer glow and a few simple effects.

This is the image you will be creating:


1. Create  a new document (File > New File ) of 600 x 350px with a transparent background. Set the foreground color to black #000000 (press D to automatically set the foreground and background to black and white). Select the Paint Bucket from the tools palette and fill the background layer with black.

Now you need to make this background layer invisible (click on the eye symbol in the layers palette).

2. Create a new layer (Layer > New Layer) and name it ‘Text’.

Select the Horizontal Type tool and set the font to Franklin Gothic Medium, size 100pt. You can try with other fonts you like but a large, square chunky font usually has the best effect. The color should be black. Type your word in the middle of the document, I’ve used ‘NEON’.



3. Go to Layer effects and select Outer Glow and choose the ‘Small Border’ type. Click on the settings and set the size to 7px with 100% opacity. Select a bright color such as the bright green which I’ve used (#00ff00). The settings are shown below:





This is how it looks after you’ve applied the glow:



Make your background visible again by clicking on the eye symbol. It’s already looking good:



4. At the moment the text is a bit too close together. It would look better if there was a gap so the neon letters don’t touch. Go to Image > Transform > Free Transform and drag out the bounding handles to make the text a bit larger . You will also need drag them out to the left and right to make the text nice and wide, as below.



5. Duplicate your Text layer (Layer > Duplicate Layer) and simplify the duplicate layer (Layer > Simplify Layer). This layer will have the name ‘Text Copy’. You should now have three layers as below:



Make the Background layer and the Text layer invisible. This will mean you can only see the layer you’re working on, which is ‘Text Copy’ . It should look like this:



We need to remove the black text as all we want is the neon border.  Make sure your ‘Text copy’ (top layer) is the active layer (it will be highlighted in blue when active). Next, hold down Ctrl and click on the thumbnail for the ‘Text’ layer, which is the layer underneath. This will create ‘marching ants’ around the text so you know its selected.

Go to Edit > Delete and the black text will be deleted, leaving just your green border. Go to Select > Deselect to remove the selection.



You should now make your background visible again but leave the text layer invisible. This is what you should have:



6. Make sure the top layer is active and select the Eraser tool and a hard round brush with a size of 3px. You need to erase some parts of the text to make some gaps to give it a more realistic neon effect. You should also erase any sharp corners. On the font I’m using, the inside of the two letter ‘N’s’ and the ‘E’ are quite sharp so I’ve rounded them off slightly.

This is how it looks after using the eraser. Don’t make the gaps too small as the glow effect we’ll be adding will close the gaps if they are not wide enough. I’ve zoomed in a bit so you can see what I’ve erased:



7. Go to the Effects panel and select Bevel, use the ‘Simple Inner’ bevel and apply the settings as size 5px, direction Up as below:



In the Effects panel, select Outer Glow and the ‘Simple’ glow with a size of 5px and opacity of 100%, using the same color (#00ff00).


Next, go into Outer Glow and select the ‘Simple’ glow again and set the size to 9px and opacity of 75% with the same color (#00ff00).

This is what you should have now:



8. We’re nearly finished now but I’m going to add some texture to the background. Create a new layer above your Background layer. Use the paint bucket tool to fill it a dark grey, #111111.

Go to Filter > Texture > Texturizer and select the Brick texture with the scaling at 130% and Relief 1 and the Light  > Top Left, as below.


I want the background to be quite subtle so reduce the opacity of this layer to 50%.

9. All we need to do now is the shadow. Make your top layer active (this should be the ‘Text Copy layer) . Go to the Effects panel and select Drop Shadow from the drop down menu, choose ‘Hard Shadow’ and set the size to 0px, distance to 7px and opacity at 100% using black (#000000) as follows:



And you’re finished, this is your final image!

neonfinalI hope you’ve enjoyed this tutorial.


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  1. Very good write-up. I definitely appreciate this website.
    Keep it up!

    • wendy on February 27, 2014 at 9:06 pm
    • Reply

    I thought this would be cool to try, but when I get to the part about removing the black text and just leaving the neon border, I create the marching ants around the texts, but the option to “delete” is grayed out.

    I’m using Photoshop Elements 12.

    And advice?

    Thank you.

    1. Hi,

      Thanks for trying the tutorial, sorry it didn’t quite work. I’ve just been through all the steps and it works okay on Elements 11. You could try making the middle ‘text’ layer visible and see if that works. Or you could try simplifying the ‘text’ layer which might help. Hope it works out!

    • Suzanne on July 4, 2018 at 2:21 am
    • Reply

    That happened to me too. You have to remember to simplify the layer, then it un-grays it.

    • Suzanne on July 4, 2018 at 2:26 am
    • Reply

    Trying this again! This same thing happened to me (the edit button being grayed out), but then I realized I hadn’t simplified the layer as instructed. When I did that, it worked.

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