Photoshop Tutorial on Lighting | Skillshare Projects

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Photoshop Tutorial on Lighting

You’ve probably seen light streaks in ads for things from smartphones to shampoo, and creating them is surprisingly easy if you know how to use the Photoshop Pen Tool, brushes, and layers. In our lighting-focused best Photoshop tutorial, you’ll learn how to add these amazing light streaks to any photo, whether you're using photoshop for students, professionals, or at-home use.

 

Interested in other adobe photoshop tutorials? Browse more classes on this site today.

Add a Blank Layer 

The light streaks will be added on a separate layer, and the first thing you’ll need to do is add a blank layer to the document. Do it by clicking the New Layer button; you’ll find it on the Layer’s palette’s bottom section. You’ll get a blank layer, which the software calls Layer 1, above the Background layer.  Other photoshop tutorials free up space by excluding this information, but we find many beginners have to take a few minutes to find the blank layer button, so we've included it.

Choose the Pen Tool 

As mentioned before, we’ll create light streaks by drawing a path and stroking it with the brush tool. To draw the path, you’ll need to select the Pen Tool by pressing the letter P for a keyboard shortcut or selecting it from the Tools palette. 

The Paths Option 

In this Photoshop class, you’ll find that you can do three things with the Pen Tool. You’ll be able to use it to draw pixel- and vector-based shapes, as well as paths, which is the goal we want to accomplish. Select the appropriate icon by clicking the Options bar at the top of your screen.  

Draw the Path and Brush It 

With the right tools and options selected, we’re ready to move on in our Photoshop lesson and draw a path. Start where you want the light streaks to show up and be sure to add a few curves to the path to make the composition more interesting. The next step is to use a brush to stroke it. Select the Brush Tool from the appropriate palette or use a keyboard shortcut. Photoshop includes multiple brushes that would work well; it’s up to you to find the one you like best.  

Reduce Spacing to 1% and Set Pen Pressure 

At the very bottom of the Brushes palette and above the preview area, you will see a Spacing option. When you train Photoshop and learn to use brushes, it typically appears as though you’re painting a continuous stroke. However, the software is really using the brush tip to stamp an image repeatedly; if those stamps are near enough to one another, it looks like one long stroke.  

There’s a default Spacing setting, and it’s too high for what we want to do. Use the included slider to reduce spacing to 1% to get the desired effect. You’ll need to tell the program to simulate a pen’s pressure, to give your light streak a tapered effect at either end. Do it by selecting the Pen Pressure option from the drop-down Control menu. 

Set the Foreground Color and Save the Path 

Now that the brush is set correctly, the next step in our Photoshop tutorial is to select a paint color. Here, we’ll paint with white, which means setting the foreground to that color. Press the D on your keyboard to ensure that Background and Foreground colors are on their default settings (black as the foreground color and white as the background color). Press the X to swap them and make white the foreground color. Save the path you’ve created so you can return to it later; all you must do is rename it. 

Brush the Path 

In our Photoshop class, the next step is to create the light streak. Click on the small, right-oriented arrow at the top right corner of the Path palette and select Stroke Path. We want to use a brush to stroke the path, so choose the appropriate tool. Tell Photoshop to use simulated pen pressure by clicking the right checkbox. Click OK to exit the dialog, and the program will use the brush to stroke the path, creating the light streak. If the stroke is too wide or narrow, use Ctrl-Z (or Command-Z on a Mac) to undo it, and make the brush smaller or larger by pressing the right or left bracket keys on the keyboard. Right now, the light streak looks like a brush stroke; we’ll have to add glow effects and color. 

Add the Outer Glow Layer 

The next step is to switch back to the Layers palette, where you’ll see the white brush stroke you just made. Click the Layer Styles icon, selecting Outer Glow. Select the Linear Light Blend Mode option, which gives us an intense glow. Choose a glow color by clicking the color swatch or by sampling a color from your image. Once you’ve picked a color, click OK to exit the Color Picker, and increase the outer glow’s size to approximately 30 pixels.  

The Inner Glow Layer 

Next, we’ll add the inner glow layer. With your Layer Style selection box still open, click on the “Inner Glow” button to bring up the options menu. Once more, you’ll change to the Linear Light blend mode and choose a color. Once you’ve done that, exit the Color Picker and increase the Inner Glow size to approximately 10 pixels. Exit the Layer Style dialog, and your light streak will have a glow to it. 

Create and Stroke Additional Path Variations 

Repeat the last few steps a couple more times to create path variations and stroke them. Try changing the brush size with the bracket keys; it’ll add more visual interest to your light streaks. Remember, if you don’t like the strokes you’ve added, simply undo it with the Ctrl-Z/Command-Z combination, edit the path, and try it again. If you’re anxious to see what your streaks look like without a path, just click anywhere in the vacant area beneath the path to deselect it and remove it from view. 

Copy Layer 1’s Layer Styles 

With the instructions given so far in this Photoshop lesson, you’ve created your first light streak. You’ll likely want to add more streaks, and it’s wise to place each one on an individual layer. Streamline your workflow by copying the first layer’s styles and pasting them onto subsequent layers. Move back to the Layers palette, where Layer 1 should still be selected. Go to the Layer menu, choose the style option, and select “Copy Layer Style”. Click the New Layer button to add a layer and paste the layer style in the appropriate menu. 

Add More Light Streaks 

With new layers added and the styles from the first layer applied to subsequent layers, it’s easy to create new light streaks. Simply use the Pen Tool to draw another path, save it by renaming it, and use the Brush Tool to stroke the path. Once the streak has been created, hold down Ctrl or Command to get to the Direct Selection Tool, where you’ll edit the path you’ve made. You can move direction handles, path segments, and anchor points to create slight variations, and then use the brush to stroke each of these variations in different brush sizes. 

If you just don’t want all your light streaks to be of the same color, it’s easy to change colors by editing layer styles. For instance, if you want your second streak to be blue instead of green, edit the layer style by double-clicking on the icon to the right of Layer 2. This opens the Layer Style dialog, where you’ll click on the Outer Glow option found on the dialog box’s left side. The Outer Glow menu will pop up; click on the color selector or sample another color from your image. Click the OK button to exit the color selector, then exit the Layer Style dialog. 

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In Closing 

In this beginner photoshop tutorial, we've covered how easy it is to train Photoshop and add colorful streaks of light to your photos and artistic compositions. These streaks can add vibrancy and visual interest to any subject. Keep coming back for more Photoshop tutorials, tips, and tricks for beginning and expert users. 

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