Is it possible to turn SketchUp 3D text into a self-illuminating object?

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Phil:  Yes - using 3D text as a light source is possible, and there are lots of options.  The method that you will want to pursue is one that delivers lighting correctly while minimizing the number of lights added to your model.  If it's possible, can you share a few images or perhaps the actual model so that I can help you get the best light source without burdening your model with too many lights?

Russell - I've attached the practice model I've been working with. I was trying to make the 'Offices' sign self illuminating. Warning - I am a rookie at this!

this was just a fast little model.  Added 3D text, edited to "Make a Lamp" - set the values, etc. 

When I collect the statistics on this rendering:

Lights = 3

I set the channel for the lettering to 5 so that I might use the Light Balance dialog to brighten or dim the lettering later on.

I don't see "Make a Lamp' unless you mean 'Treat as Light'. In any case, I am at a loos when you say "collect the statistics". In any case, all I end up with is just some light behind the text:

Phil - when I "right-click" on the lettering, I get this option: "Make Lamp".

Russell - OK, I started from scratch and did get the 'Make Lamp' option. What setting did you use to get the letters to appear uniformly lit? Mine are more like 'glowing', and I am having trouble controlling which way they glow. Thanks for your help!

Set the type to "Omni Directional", and very bright - mine are 3000 lumens

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