Learn to apply a neon glow to text in Adobe Illustrator using multiple strokes and fills on a single object in the Appearance panel.

What you learned: How to work with the Appearance panel to layer multiple strokes and fills on text to achieve a neon text effect

Work with the Appearance panel

The Appearance panel shows the appearance formatting applied to selected artwork. With the text frame selected, you will not see the text formatting, but rather the frame formatting in the Appearance panel. 

  • In the Appearance panel, click Characters to see the text formatting. You can then see the stroke, fill, and other appearance properties in the panel. With the text selected, you can’t apply another stroke and fill—the text frame needs to be selected. 
  • To select the text frame again and see its appearance formatting, click Type at the top of the panel. 

Add multiple strokes

With the text frame selected, you can now add more strokes and fills. By layering more than one stroke and fill on the text, and applying color, weights, and effects, you can achieve the neon glow effect.

  • Click the Add New Fill button at the bottom of the Appearance panel to apply a second fill. The new fill will appear on top of the previous fill.
  • To change the appearance of the existing stroke, change the color by clicking the stroke color and then change the stroke weight.
  • To add a second stroke, click the Add New Stroke button at the bottom of the Appearance panel.
  • To change the appearance of the new stroke so that it is under the original stroke, you can change the ordering. Drag the new stroke below the original stroke so it is behind the new fill and the original stroke.

Apply an effect to a single stroke or fill

You can apply effects to the text object as a whole, or you can apply effects to an individual appearance property like one of the strokes.

  • Click the appearance row (the stroke) to select it. This selection targets the appearance so that the effect will only be applied to it.
  • Click the Add New Effect button at the bottom of the Appearance panel or choose the effect from the Effect menu.
  • Choose Blur > Gaussian Blur.
  • Change the radius in the Gaussian Blur dialog box and click OK.

Tip: Add more strokes to the artwork, change the color, reorder the strokes and fills, and apply the glow effect to give the artwork more depth.

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