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Glowing Text Effects

Jun 18, 2023

I’ve been reading The Wandering Inn recently. In this story, the author does not limit themselves to regular white text on black background. They will emphasize some unique or magical words by using different colors. Later on, they used different fonts and even some animated text . In some scenes involving invisible characters, the text is actually invisible.

There’s a scene involving some magical documents where the characters remark that the text in it is glowing. Although it’s written in a different color, I thought it’s a shame there isn’t actually any glowing effect. So I thought it would be cool to make one.

What would be an appropriate glow effect? You can make a static glow effect easily enough by using text-shadow with a high blur. But this glow is less “magical text” and more “neon sign”.

I decided the magical text should have an uneven glow that is constantly changing. To achieve this using CSS, you have to wrap each character with a span, and animate their text-shadow separately, since you need to have a different duration and start time for each of them.

<span class="glowing-text"
  ><span style="animation-delay: -1.00s; animation-duration: 1.28s">T</span
  ><span style="animation-delay: -1.31s; animation-duration: 1.39s">h</span
  ><span style="animation-delay: -0.37s; animation-duration: 1.02s">i</span
  ><span style="animation-delay: -1.70s; animation-duration: 1.14s">s</span>
  <!-- You probably will have to do this programatically -->
</span>

I also animated the font color a bit. To get the appropriate color from the original one, I used chroma-js to increase the lightness in oklch. This color is also used in some of the text-shadows.

/* --lighter-color and --lighter-font-color is set by js */

.glowing-text span {
  animation:
    waverShadow infinite,
    waverText infinite;
}

@keyframes waverShadow {
  from {
    text-shadow:
      0px 0px 10px currentColor,
      0px 0px 10px var(--lighter-color);
  }

  50% {
    text-shadow:
      0px 0px 10px currentColor,
      0px 0px 20px var(--lighter-color);
  }

  to {
    text-shadow:
      0px 0px 10px currentColor,
      0px 0px 10px var(--lighter-color);
  }
}

@keyframes waverText {
  from {
    color: currentColor;
  }

  50% {
    color: var(--lighter-font-color);
  }

  to {
    color: currentColor;
  }
}

This is the result.

This text is glowing magically

It looks best on dark backgrounds:

This text is glowing magically

Customise it! This only works with JavaScript though, seems you haven't finished loading it or it's disabled.

  • Color:
  • Lighten glow color by:
  • Lighten font color by:

When I started reading TWI, I wondered why the author decided to use black background by default. Then the colored text started appearing, and it makes sense.

If you have a lot of these animated text, the animations will take a significant amount of CPU time. You can disable them when they’re outside the viewport using InteractionObserver.

const observer = new IntersectionObserver(callback, options);

function callback(entries) {
  entries.forEach((entry) => {
    if (entry.isIntersecting) {
      entry.target.classList.add('glowing-text');
    } else {
      entry.target.classList.remove('glowing-text');
    }
  });
}

observer.observe(animatedTextSpan);

You can check out the final component here.