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In this article, I will show you how to, simply, create a cool lightning.

This does not require any special plugins, action-files, photoshop version or whatever. Even newbies should master this trick pretty quick.

It is most likely that you can use this trick with other Adobe products, like the special edition of Photoshop or Adobe Elements, as well.

Tekenen met Photoshop ...

Steps to follow ...

1. Set colors to Black and White

Use the color-setting in the tools window as shown on the righ, the red arrow indicates the settings: (the background is black and the foreground should be white)

2. Create a new image

Use the menu "File" and select "New".

A new window appears, enter the size values here as shown.

I usually startout with an image size of about 800 wide and 400 pixels high, suitable for most situations. Ofcourse other values will work too. Click the "OK" button when you're done

Photoshop: Instellingen voor de afbeelding die je wenst

3. Make sure the background is black

If you don't have a black background no; Press CTRL+A (Select All) and press the delete-button, this will make the background go black.

 

The Photoshop TOOLBAR ...

4. Create new layer with a gradient fill

Click the "New Layer" button or press Shift+Ctrl+N or select from the menu "Layer" - "New" - "Layer ..." (these last two require you to click the "OK" button). The "New Layer" button can be found in the layer-window, in the lower right corner as seen in the snapshot on the right.

Now it's time to create a gradient fill for that particular layer.

 

Photoshop: select GRADIENT tool

Click the Gradient tool in the toolbar.

Your toolbar might be showing the "Paint Bucket Tool" icon right now, if so click this icon and keep the left mouse button down until the little menu appears as shown in the snapshot on the left.

Click the "Gradient Tool".

 

Create a new layer

In the upper left corner of Photoshop now appears the additional features that come with the gradient tool.

Make sure the gradient goes from black to white (not transparant!).

If needed you can click the effect dropdownbox as show below to select the black-to-white gradient as shown:

Photoshop: select the colors of the gradient

 

Photoshop: an example gradient fill

Now click in the new image somewhere in the lower half of the image and keep the left mouse button pressed and drag it up to somewhere in the upper half of the image.

Now you can release the mosue button and a gradient fill will appear. The type and shape depends on how far you dragged and where you started to drag.

On the left you see an example what it could look like ...

 

5. Difference Clouds and inverting the image

Now select from the menu "Filter" - "Render" - "Difference Clouds", you will see that the gradient fill is transformed to a lightning,... well and inverted one that is.

The first signs of lightning ...

So now let's invert that image, select "Image" - "Adjust" - "Invert" from the menu (or press Ctrl+i). Wow, almost a good one,...

We're getting close to a real lightning with Photoshop ...

6. Adjust levels

From the menu now select the "Image" - "Adjust" - "Levels" (or press Ctrl+L). Now a window appears and allows you to adjust the image levels. Move the little black arrow (indicated by the red big arrow in the snapshot below) to the right up to the point where you think you've got a cool lightning.

Photoshop: adjusting the lightning zap...

The results looks pretty good to me ... ;

Nice lightning isn't it?

Try experimenting with different directions of gradient fills and see what they do.

A tip for those who would like to add the newly created lightning to existing images;

1. copy the layer to the image that should contain the lightning.
2. open the layer style page of this new layer in you image (double click the layer in the layer-window)
3. set the blending options to "screen" as shown below:

This might result in something like this (I slightly rotated the lightning and added some background clouds):

An example of lightning ....


 

 


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