With Photoshop one can easily make lightning and other dazzling effects such as sparkles and vortexes. This is tutorial number one in the "Bert Monroy" series, inspired by the Photoshop master, Bert Monroy's PixelPerfect video podcasts. Bert's video podcast for this tutorial can be found at PixelPerfect Lightning
To use Photoshop to create lightning emanating from point source such as a magic wand, a hand or in this case the torch of the Statue of Liberty.
- Choose your image, the image Bert uses in the video podcast is a drawing of a wizard using a magiz wand. For this tutorial I will be using an image of the Statue of Liberty. Dimensions 640x460px Error creating thumbnail: Unable to run external programs, proc_open() is disabled. Error code: 1
- Press "D" on your keyboard to set your background color to white and your foreground colors to black
Create the Lightning
- Create a new file in Photoshop larger than the one you are currently using in my case 1000x1000px
- Using the Rectangular Marquee tool make a series of 4 long narrow selections of varying widths from top to bottom fill each one with the foreground color by pressing (Alt-Backspace.)(Opt-Delete) See fig. ???
- Next we apply a some Gaussian Blur which can be found under the menu/Filter/Blur/Gaussian blur... In the dialog bos set the Radius of the blur to 20 pixels.
- Next we apply the Polar Coordinates filter menu/Filter/Distort/Polar Coordinates Make sure that "Rectangular to Polar" mode is selected and click OK.
- Now, to create the Lightning we apply the Difference Clouds filter menu/Render/Difference Clouds
- By inverting the result we get lightning, menu/Image/Adjustments/Invert or press (Ctrl-I)(Cmd-I)
- To clean up the lightning and make it more pronounced we adjust the levels of the layer by menu/Image/Adjustments/Levels... (Ctrl-L)(Cmd-L) then adjust the dark slider to about 125 or so and adjust the mid tones to about .35 and Click OK
- If you wish to make your lightning any other colar than white we can do this by adjusting the Hue/Saturation of the leyer by menu/Image/Adjustments/Hue/Saturation... Make sure the "Colorize" check box is checked and bring the "Saturation" to 100 and adjust thhe "Hue" slider to a color you like. Click OK
- Using the move tool drag the image of the lightning onto the image of the statue. Afterwards you can discard the lightning file.
- In order to see the image below set the layer mode to "screen". This hides the dark tones and only shows the light tones of the layer
- Use the Move tool to center the lightning on the edge of the statue's torch.
- Rotate the lightning so that it is not covering the statue's body by menu/Edit/Transform/Rotate You may need to scale it a little also so that it fits in the image properly.