Here's a quick tutorial on how to use cursiv8, my Sharp EL-8 display layer font from my Analog Digits packs! I'm using Affinity Publisher, but these steps should be mostly do-able in other layout apps and word processors.

Note: about rescaling graphics

If your app lets you set properties to “scale with object”, then do so!

In the Affinity Suite, you can set strokes to scale with the objects they're on in the stroke menu, and you can set effects to scale with the layers they're applied to in the bottom of the effects pop-up.

Doing this will save some headaches if you ever want to rescale your graphics, but keep the same look.

Step 0: The inspiration

There's a few photos of lit-up Sharp EL-8 calculator displays online that luckily have all the numbers between them, but for consistency I used these two photos as my references, first the unlit display (source) and second this photo with all of the numbers and the decimal (source, third image, not sure whether they took the photo or got it from elsewhere):

Step 1: Set up the layers

Make a text-art layer, set the font to cursiv8, type in your text, and duplicate the layer once. Open the Typography pop-up (Ctrl/Cmd+Shift+T). It doesn't massively matter which order you put these two layers in, but it'll probably look better if you have the lit segments on top and the unlit ones underneath, so select the bottom layer and apply stylistic set 1 (ss01/“unlit”). Your text should now look like this:

Most word processors and layout apps will have some way to access these font features like stylistic sets (if the font has them). You can find more info in your app's documentation or in the user guide for cursiv8!

Step 2: Flat colours

Give each layer a fitting colour. I've gone with a magenta fill and lighter outline for the lit segments, and a very dark grey fill with a thin medium-dark grey outline for the unlit segments behind. The outline's set to be inside the unlit characters.

Final step: Blur

Apply a little Gaussian blur to both layers. This mimics glow a little bit.

Extra options

If your app allows for it, you could replace the outline and blur with a bevel on the edge of the lit and unlit characters. For this pic I used a rounded bevel:

Hope this helps! If this tutorial caught your eye, you can find cursiv8 in my Analog Digits font packs, along with other fonts for retro electronic displays.

Return to top