Photoshop lightning

by Design Workshop Sydney

Many special effects can be created from scratch in Photoshop using the brush tool options. We show you how to create amazing effects like this lightning in our Adobe Photoshop training courses.Print
First of all we source a photographic image of a lightning bolt from the internet – make sure it’s medium to large in size. The more detail the better. Next open the Channels panel and click on each channel to establish which one defines the lightning best whilst keeping the background as dark as possible.
Now duplicate this channel by dragging it onto the Create New Channel icon. To accentuate the contrast further create a Levels adjustment layer and use the black eyedropper, which defines the shadows areas of the image, and click on a light grey area near to the lightning bolt. This will set the black point in the image, compelling all pixels with this shade of grey or darker to go black. Note the changes in the histogram, and adjust the sliders if necessary. Then invert the tones via Ctrl+I – this will result in a black lightning bolt against a white sky. To create a brush from this go to the Edit drop-down menu and choose Define Brush Preset and OK.
To test this new brush select the Brush tool and select the new brush at the bottom of the list. Open the Brush panel and in the section named Brush Tip Shape change the Spacing to 50, for example. In the Shape Dynamics section, change the Size Jitter to 120. Turn Control to Off and the Angle Jitter to 110 with Control Off. Tick Flip X and Y Jitter at the bottom of the panel to add variation to the brush effect.
Now create a new document, size A5 for example. Go to the Edit menu and choose to Fill with Black. Then create new layer and choose the Brush tool and the new lightning brush. Make your Foreground colour white and paint some brush strokes onto the black background.
Go the the Layer Effects (fx) button at the bottom of the Layers panel, and choose Outer Glow. Click on the colour box to select a light blue hue. Then change the layer’s blending mode to Hard Light. Use the Eraser tool with a soft-edged brush (if necessary) to erase any hard edges.
Many more tips and techniques can be found at the Adobe website. And see many examples of our clients’ work on our Facebook page.
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