Create a colorful surging electric wave text effect in Photoshop

By Rajasegar Chandiran on January 10th, 2012

In this comprehensive tutorial you will learn how to create a cool text effect which captures electricity really well. The combination of the old school neon light effect on the text and the waves of electric current and light make this a busy, but engaging piece. The wide variety of neon colors fit well with the concept, and light is effectively used to draw the eye.

Before going into the tutorial, let us see how the final image will look like.

Materials Needed:

Step 1:New Document

Create a new document of size 1600 by 1200 px with black as the background color.

Step 2: Add Text

Now add some text of the font Prisma which can be downloaded from DaFont, about the size of 500 pt of white color. The color of the text does not matter here since we are going to apply some layer styles on it.

Before applying the Layer styles you need to set the Fill Opacity to 0% for the text layer. Since we are going to apply two different layer styles for the text, make a duplicate of the text layer.

Note: This text layer is the base for our design, so henceforth in the tutorial, we will be mentioning this layer as base_text.

Position the text in the center of the document , aligning both the horizontal and vertical centers with respect to the background layer.

Step 3: Layer Styles for the text

Apply these following layer styles to the first – (bottom layer) text layer.

Gradient Overlay

First apply the Gradient Overlay style for the text, with the gradient colors running from a dark blue to yellow color with red in the middle, please use the below image for your reference.

The colors of the gradient from left to right respectively are, Blue (#0A00B2), Red (#FF0000) and Yellow (#FFFC00).

Inner Glow

Now apply an Inner Glow style with white color.

After applying the Layer sytles, our text will look like this.

Now for the second text layer (top layer), set the Fill Opacity of the layer to 0% and apply only the Inner Glow layer style as mentioned in the previous step.

Step 4: Creating the surging waves on the text

With our base text is ready, we are now going to create some surging waves in and around the text, for that we are going to use the duplicated text layer, the layer at the top which is having only the Inner Glow layer style with white color. This is done using the Ripple distortion filter available in Photoshop, go to Filter -> Distortion -> Ripple, apply the filter with the following settings such as Amount = 100%, Size = Large and apply OK.

We can now get a rippled wavy text with this filter.

This is the effect so far with our text.

Step 5: Creating the electric waves

With the text layers ready, next we need to create our waves for the effect. For that we are going to use the Rectangle (U) and draw a thin horizontal line below the text with the width of the line matching the width of the individual parts making up the text as such in the font and the length slightly greater than the text, so that the waves look like they are traveling in and around the text.

Apply the Inner Glow layer style for this rectangle as such provided for the rippled text layer, with slightly adjusting the size of the glow appropriately for the width of the rectangle , we have used the value Size = 8, you can adjust as you like.

After applying the Inner Glow style to the rectangle it will look like this.

Now our rectangle is ready to be distorted like a wave, so we are going to use the Wave distortion filter with the values used as the following. Go to Filter -> Distort -> Wave and apply the filter.

You can see now our basic light wave is ready.

Now create some more 4 to 5 waves like this with various bright and light colors to have some cool neon like effect for the waves.

We have created some waves in different colors like RGB Cyan, Magenta, Green and Yellow. Use the below image for your reference. You can also choose your own color palette with contrasting, light and bright colors according to your taste and preference.

After creating all the waves, group them all together by selecting all the wave layers and choose Layer -> Group Layers (Ctrl + G). Rename the group to something like waves for your identification.

Now we are going to apply surging effect for our waves also, like the one applied to our text layer. For that duplicate the waves group, right-click the waves group and select Duplicate Group and merge the group by Layer -> Merge Group (Ctrl + E) .

Apply the Ripple effect on this layer with the same setting applied before for the text. Go to Filter -> Distortion -> Ripple, apply the filter with the following settings such as Amount = 100%, Size = Large and apply OK.

This is the effect so far we have achieved.

Duplicate this rippled wave layer, apply some blur to give some glow effect for the waves, go to Filter -> Blur -> Gaussian Blur apply the blur with the value Radius = 10 pixels and apply OK.

After applying the blur, the waves will look like this..

It is now time to give some glow to the text also, so duplicate our rippled text layer, the one we applied the Ripple distortion filter, move it to the top and then apply some Gaussian Blur with Radius = 10 and apply OK. Here we need to reduce the intensity of the base text color, for that we are colorizing this blurred layer to some light blue or Cyan color. Go to Image -> Adjustments -> Hue/Saturation and select the check box named Colorize and move the sliders to get some light Cyan color and apply OK.

And our text will look like this now. You can see that the intensity of the gradient colors have been minimized.

Step 6: Creating the grid

Next we are going to give some retro touch to our effect by adding a perspective grid to the overall setting. For this, we are going to use some grid brushes from the pack 50 Deadly Tron Grids – Arcnerva Brushes from Brusheezy by Arcnerva.

Load these brushes into our document after downloading them and unzipping them in a separate folder, select the Brush tool (B) from the Tool Box, set the Foreground color to RGB Cyan, then in the brush tool options available below the menu bar, choose the drop-down and click the arrow pointing to the right to load the settings and choose Load Brushes from the menu, select the file with the extension .abr from the folder which we have unzipped previously.

Now the grid brushes are loaded into the document, from the collection choose the one which says grid 10 and create the new layer, and in the bottom part of the image, create a grid like one as shown below.

Next we need to resize this grid to approximately match the width of the text, go to Edit -> Transform -> Scale (Ctrl + T) and adjust the size as shown below.

Then erase or mask our the portions of the grid falling behind the text, by using a soft round brush of about 200 px size and 0% hardness.

Add some glow to the grid, by applying some Gaussian Blur to it, by duplicating the original grid layer and then apply blur filter.

Step 7: Creating the shadow

Next we are going to create a nice and subtle shadow of the text on the perspective grid. Duplicate the base_text layer, move it to the top, flip the layer vertically by choosing Edit -> Transform -> Flip Vertical and drag it down so that the bottom and top portions of the original and flipped text layers exactly meet at the edges.

Then we are going to adjust the perspective of the shadow to exactly match the perspective of the grid. For that we need to transform the text , choose Edit -> Transform -> Scale (Ctrl + T) and re-size the shadow text layer like shown below.

Tip: Creating/Changing perspectives in Transform mode

While in Transform mode i.e., when you select your layer to re-size, rotate or move by choosing Ctrl + T, you can also adjust the perspective of your layers by holding down the Ctrl (Cmd for Mac) key and dragging the four corner handles of your layer.

After adjusting the perspectives, our shadow will look like this.

Now our shadow looks flat and unfortunately that is not the case with the shadows, so we need to fine tune it, by layer masking it using a gradient on the layer mask layer. Add a layer mask to this layer, by right-clicking and choose Add Layer Mask. Now with the layer mask selected, choose the Gradient Tool (G), choose the default gradient Foreground to Background with black and white as the colors respectively, if the default colors are changed switch them back to the default by pressing the D key which will reset the default foreground and background colors.

Draw a Linear gradient from the bottom to the top in the layer mask as shown below.

Change the blending mode of this shadow layer to Color Dodge and the effect will look like this.

Step 8: Adding Surge points on the text

Now to create some sharp surge points on the text, create a new layer, choose a soft round brush with white as the color and 50 px diameter and 0% hardness, paint some spots on the text randomly.

Change the blending mode of the layer to Overlay.

Now create a new layer, and change the brush diameter to 100 – 150 px and then paint some soft white areas at the point where the text and the grid intersect.

Then change the blending mode of this layer to Overlaye and Layer Opacity = 50%.

Step 9: Finishing Touch

We are almost to the end of the tutorial, our effect is ready, for the final touch, we are just adding some some space scene to the overall effect. For that we are using a nebulae stock image, sorry i forgot where i downloaded this stock image if anyone knows the author and link please let us know we will update it as soon as possible, you can also use your own stock if you like.

Open the stock image, copy it and paste it into our document , a new layer for the stock image will be created , resize the image to fit into the canvas. Then de-saturate the image since we are going to make our scene look uniform with colors, and we are using some light cyan as our light for the effects we need to colorize our stock image. Go to Image -> Adjustments -> De-saturate (Ctrl + Shift + U) and then select Image -> Adjustments -> Hue/ Saturation, select the Colorize check box and choose some light cyan color and apply OK. Use the below image for your reference.

Also we need to erase or mask out some portions of the space stock below the text and the grid. For that add a layer mask and using soft round brush of 200px diameter and 0% hardness , mask out the bottom portions of the stock.

Now move the layer to the bottom of the stack just above the background layer and change the Layer Blending Mode to Screen and change the Layer Opacity to 50%.

This is how our final output will look like, please also take a look at how the layers are stacked against each other and arrange the same in the order given below for good looking final result.

Finally here is our final image with a colorful surging electric wave text effect in Photoshop. There are certain things we want to mention here, please be liberal with the use of filters, choice of fonts , layer styles, and also experiment with the settings while applying filters to get accurate and effective results.

We’re finished! Hopefully you’ve picked up a few new techniques and had fun while doing so. Please share any of your personal creations in the comments for others to see!

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