By Melissa Scroggins, Shutterstock Contributor

Two Adobe Illustrator effects, Inner Glow and Outer Glow, are often underutilized by designers. Yet these effects can be quite versatile and creative – if only we would all use them more. In this article, we’ll examine how to manipulate the Glows, followed by the some practical ways to use them.

To begin, you can find either effect from the AI menu bar by going to Effect > Stylize > Inner Glow (or Outer Glow).

Inner Glow

Inner Glow provides depth to a selection from the inside. This “glow” originates from either the edge or the center of the selection. Inner glow is a great way to create inner shading or reflections.

The menu panel for Inner Glow includes a Mode drop down menu, swatch thumbnail, Opacity percentage, Blur distance and radio buttons for Center or Edge. In the example below, notice the difference between an inner glow of darker blue from the edge versus from the center of the circle.

Tip: In the Appearance Panel, double click the “fx” to edit the effect.

Outer Glow

Outer Glow provides depth from the outside edge of a selection. This “glow” originates from the outside edge of the selection. Unlike the Inner Glow menu panel, the Outer Glow menu panel doesn’t have the radio buttons for Center and Edge.

In the example below, changing the distance to 15px for the blur causes the distance of the shadow around the circle to increase outward.


Essentially, the Options can be viewed as such:

– the Mode setting allows a user to choose the blending mode (just like the Transparency Panel) for the inner or outer glow
– the Opacity controls the amount of transparency for the glow
– the Blur specifies the actual distance of the glow. The Center and Edge radio buttons are specific to Inner Glow only and allow the user to choose the origin of the glow

Tip: Remember to check Effect > Document Raster Effect Settings for the resolution setting. Set to High (300 dpi) so that the final rendering looks the best.


Inner Glow is a great way to create the illusion of engraved text. For instance, create a rectangle with the Rectangle Tool (M) and a fill with Color=75A7D8. Then, type the letter T with the same fill color and expand the type with Option > Expand. Next, go to Effect > Stylize > Inner Glow and enter the following settings: Normal Mode, Color=094A7F, Opacity=90%, Blur=2px, and set to Edge.

The result will create an engraved letter.

Outer Glow is also useful for many designer elements. One such element is a rollover button. Begin with a glossy aqua-style button. To add the illusion that the button is being pushed into the background, go to Effect > Stylize > Outer Glow and enter the following settings: Screen Mode, Black, 91%, and a Blur of 7px. This can be used as the “on” state for a rollover button.

To give the illusion that the button is glowing on a dark background, follow the same procedure as before, but change the settings to: Normal Mode, a complementary shade of your button color, 85%, and a Blur of 14px. This will create a soft glow for the “on” state for a rollover button.

Once you get the hang of using Inner and Outer Glow, you’ll find there are many useful and creative ways to use them, so get “glowing”!