2 Different Ways To Illuminate Text

posted in: Tutorials | 0

Hello Guys,

in this tutorial I want to show you how to illuminate text in different ways in most recent Blender version 2.80.74.

When I had to work on the final homework for the Design Thinking workshop in Zagreb at Vern’ University I faced several issues by working on animated text. In addition I figured out some ways to illuminate text in different ways so that I could use the animation for final video sequence.

Let’s start with the basic project setup by creating and configuring camera, light and text. Afterwards we go on with the animation part.

Basic Project Setup

The first thing you should do is to set the background color from dark grey default setting to full black. This can be done in the ‘World’ settings.


We start with setting up the project. The camera must be moved to view to a certain direction to show the text from a perfect position. I chose the following object settings and press ‘0’ to see where the camera is pointing.

Camera object settings


The text object can be created with the shortcut ‘Shift’ + ‘A’ -> ‘Text’. The new text object is located flat the ground and should be moved in front of the camera view. The camera view should be active (press ‘0’) and move the text to the following location and use the following rotation.

Text object settings

Text Size Modification

In the object data of the text object we should reduce the text size to maybe 0.5 to have the complete text in the camera view. The size of course should be adapted to the displayed text. The text size can be found in the ‘Transform’ section of the ‘object data’, as shown in the pictures.

Text object size modification

Text Modification + Origin

There is only one known way to modify the text object’s text. Select the text object and change to the ‘Edit Mode’ by pressing ‘Tab’ or click ‘Edit Mode’ in the top left corner. A cursor appears in the text object and you can directly modify the text.

Most likely your text will run out the camera view (see the picture below). This is because the origin of the text object is initiallly set to the ‘bottom-left’ edge of the text object. In general we want the text to appear in the center of the camera view. Therefore we have to change the origin of the text object to be in the ‘center of mass (volume)’. As far as I found out there is no differnce between ‘center of mass (volume)’ to ‘center of mass (surface’ when we work on 2D texts.

The text runs out of the camera view. The orange dot in the bottom left edge indicates the origin.

However, be aware that each time you modify the text object’s text you have to adjust the origin. To change the origin we select the text object in ‘Object Mode’, click on the ‘Object’ menu -> ‘Set Origin’ -> ‘Origin to Center of Mass (volume)’. Aftwards the orange dot, which indicates the origin, should be set to the center of text object, like displayed below.

The text still runs out of the camera view but the origin is set to the center of the surface.

Again we should set the text object’s object settings to 0:0:2. So that the text is set to the center of the camera view.

Text object settings


To create nice effects we play around with lights. For that we modify the default point/sun light to a spot light. This is done in the light’s ‘Object Data’. The power of the spot is increased to ‘2500W’ and the size is set to a value of ‘0.5’. You can play around with the ‘Spot Shape’s’ ‘Size’ to get a better feeling of the result of the rendered image. Also play around with the ‘Light’s’ ‘Size’.

Light’s Size

The Ligh’ts Size increases or decreases the transition from light to dark. When the size is decreased to a very small value like 0.1m than the light to dark transition is very sharp, whereas a higher value creates a soft transition. I’d prefer the soft transition, that’s why I set the value to 0.5m.

Light’s Spot Shape

The spot shape modifies the cone of the spot light. The higher the angle value the more text is illuminated in the rendered image. Later on we will play around with this value to create a special effect of text illumination.

Light’s Object Data Settings
Light’s Size is set to 0.5m (soft transition)
Light’s Size is set to 0.1m (sharp transition)

Text Animation

Since we finished the basic project setup for our text animation we can now go on to the real text animation. Here I will provide several ideas on how to animate the text in different ways before we will create a bunch of animations.

  • Change the Light’s Spot Shape Size from 1° to 50° to 1° over time
  • Change the Light’s X position from -3.8 to 3.8 over time
  • Change the text Y position from 0 to -100
  • Add special effects in the compositing, like the ‘Glare Filter’

Render Setting

For the test render 100 frames are created. Therefore we set the start frame to 1 and the end frame to 100. For testing purposes the render quality can be very low so that the animation is created quickly. The render sampling could be set to 32 to get a feeling for the animation. And the resolution can also be set to a low value.

Render Settings (1/2)
Render Settings (2/2)

Animation with Spot Shape Size

Let’s start with the first example by changing the angle shape of the spot. The animation is created in 3 steps:

  1. Set the frame to 1 and the spot shape size to 1° (minimum value). By right clicking the spot shape size and pressing ‘insert keyframe’, the spot shape size is taken over.
  2. Set the frame to 50 and the spot shape size to 50°. Right click the spot shape size again and insert the second keyframe.
  3. Set the frame to 100 and the spot shape size back to 1°. Right click the spot shape size again and insert the third keyframe.

After creating the keyframes we change to the graph editor to adjust the curves of the keyframes.

Change to the Graph Editor by pressing ‘Shift’ + ‘F6’

The initial curve looks like a sine curve. Select the keyframe at the vertex of the sine curve and scale the size to a higher value to inflate the curve.

Increase the size in x direction for a better fade
Animation of the Spot Shape Size

Animation with Light’s X Position

The second approach is to animate the x position of the spot light. We change the x location from -x to +x which results in illuminating the text from left to right. Again we set the frame to 1 and start the animation in 2 steps:

  1. Set the frame to 1 and the x location of the light object to -3.8. By right clicking the location and pressing ‘insert keyframe’, the x,y,z location is taken over.
  2. Set the frame to 100 and the x location to +3.8. Right click the x location again and insert the second keyframe.
The Graph Editor should look like this
Animation of the light’s x location


In summary we learned to animate text in two different ways. What can be said is that there are hundreds of different ways for text animation in Blender. You could rotate the text, play around with different types of lights and settings.

Depending on how much information is applied to the text object the animation time can be increased or decreased. Meaning the more text is used the more time the reader needs to read, therefore the animation time should be increased, e.g. from 100 frames to 150. By using the compositing editor more effects can be applied to the animation.

Leave a Reply