How I Created a Retro-inspired Neon Typography with After Effects
Start with your design, this one was provided to me by my coworker, Chris.
Start creating the elements of the neon. For each of the individual lights to come on, they need to be separate elements. I used the type as a guide to create new forms.
Optimize your file for animation. I split up all the objects into its own layer in Illustrator. This gives me the option to control the timing of each object when I bring this into After Effects. You're able to leave the items that won't change on a shared layer.
Since there are a lot of layers in this file, I would name each layer to make things easier to find. I named all the strokes in the 5 and 4, and I gave each letter in studio a name with the same root, "studio-s" was my s layer.
Import your AI file into After Effects as a Composition. I've chosen to create a composition of each element so I can see the timing easier. For the number 5, I wanted to animate it in, and do some cool strobing a few times.
For the 4, Chris wanted it to flicker in, and then out.
Create a similar process with each letter in STUDIO. Details can also be added like gaussian blur, flickering lights, and an inactive state enhances this retro-inspired sign.