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.
Part 1 Making Lightning
- Choose your image, the image Bert uses in the video podcast is a drawing of a wizard using a magic wand. For this tutorial I will be using an image of the Statue of Liberty. Dimensions 640x460px
- 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/Filter/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)
- 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 color 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 the "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.
There you have it, the Statue of Liberty menacing NY with her lightning torch.
Part 2 Creating The Vortex
The second part of Bert's tutorial focuses on creating a vortex above the subject accented with some sparkles
Create More Room
- Using the Eyedropper tool pick up the color at the very top of the image and set it to the background color by holding the (Alt)(Option) key while clicking the color.
- Increase the size of the canvas by menu/Image/Canvas Size...
- Make sure that relative is unchecked.
- Set the height to a larger number (in this case 800px)
- Set the anchor to the bottom center position
- Set the Canvas Extension Color to Background and click OK
Making the Lightning Wisps
For lack of a better word I'm calling the next thing Bert creates "Lightning Wisps"
- Create a new layer
- Press the "D" key to set the foreground and background colors to black and white
- While holding down the (Alt)(Option) key apply the Clouds filter by menu/Filter/Render/Clouds
- You may need to undo and re-apply the clouds filter to "find" the lightning wisps within (watch the video it makes more sense there)
- Apply the Find Edges filter by menu/Filter/Stylize/Find Edges
- Invert it by pressing (Ctrl-I)(Cmd-I)
- Adjust the levels of the layer by menu/Image/Adjustments/Levels... (Ctrl-L)(Cmd-L)
- Adjust the Lights to the left to make the image very light
- Using the Eraser tool erase all but your "lightning"
- Adjust the Hue/Saturation by pressing (Ctrl-U)(Cmd-I)
- Select Colorize
- Raise the Saturation to 100
- Select a hue color that you like
- Save the color settings for use later by clicking on the save button and putting the file somewhere you can find it later (Desktop)
- Set the layer mode to screen so that only the lighter tones are visible
- Adjust the positioning to make the lightning emanate from the location you want it to, in my case the statue's torch.
Create the Lightning
Using a technique similar to how we made the first lightning we will create a single lightning bolt.
- Create a new layer and fill it with white by pressing (Ctrl-Backspace)(Option-Delete)
- Then adjust the opacity to about 50% so that we can see the image below
- Get nice soft and large brush, set it's color to black and then draw where you want your lightning to travel splitting the image in two.
- Continue filling the right half of the layer with black.
- bring the opacity back to 100%
- Apply the difference clouds filter by menu/Filter/Render/Difference Clouds
- Invert the layer by pressing (Ctrl-I)(Cmd-I)
- Adjust the levels (Crtl-L)(Cmd-I) to get rid of the extra clouds and make the lightning more pronounced.
- Colorize the lightning by adjusting the Hue/Saturation (Ctrl-U)(Cmd-U) and reloading the color profile we saved earlier.
- Set the layer mode to screen
- Using the eraser tool erase the parts of the lightning that you do not want.
Make the Vortex
- Create a new layer
- Using the Eyedropper tool pick up the color of your lightning
- Using the Elliptical Marquee tool create a large ellipse above the statue
- Give the ellipse a feather by menu/Select/Modify/Feather... (Alt-Ctrl-D)(Cmd-Option-D) to soften the edge
- Using the brush tool throw in some various streaks that follow the contour of the ellipse
- Apply the ZigZag filter by menu/Filter/Distort/ZigZag
- Make sure that "Pond Ripples" is selected as the Style
- Adjust the Amount and the Ridges to make your vortex look good
- Deselect the Ellipse by menu/Select/Deselect or by pressing (Ctrl-D)(Cmd-D)
- Using the Move tool position the vortex where you would like it to be on your image.
Make Some Sparkles
The final touch to this piece is to create some sparkles to accent your image
- Bring up the Brush Engine Press (F5)
- In the Brush Tip Shape section add some spacing about 110% or so
- In the Shape Dynamics section adjust the Size Jitter to 100%
- Turn the Pen Pressure off
- In the Scattering section set the scatter to 100%
- Close the brush engine by pressing (F5)
- Paint some sparkles following the path of the lightning
- Create some bright star like sparkles
- Bring up the Brush Engine by pressing (f5)
- Turn off Shape Dynamics and Scattering
- In the Other Dynamics section set the fade to 30 pixels
- In the Brush Tip section set the spacing to around 35%
- Zoom in to an area of the image where you want to place your sparkle
- Click where you want your sparkle to start (it's origin)
- Above the point you just clicked press the (Shift) and click
- Click the origin again and (Shift-Click) below it
- In the Other Dynamics section of the Brush Engine change the fade to about 15%
- Click the origin of the sparkle and then (Shift-click) to the side, repeat for opposite side
- Using a larger brush size click at the origin of your sparkles
- Duplicate the sparkle and transform it to make it look different and place at a different location