photoshop creative

Create a glowing guitar

Posted in:
Tips & Tutorials, by Mark White
October 21, 2015

Add a beautiful glowing effect to any image!


1. Get prepped


Let’s paste a guitar photo into our newly made document, then position the guitar with Rotate or Scale using Free Transform (Cmd/Ctrl+T). We’ll make it semi-transparent by reducing the layer’s Opacity by 50%.

2. Use paths for selecting


Use the Pen tool to trace a path around the outer edge of the guitar. You could alternatively use the Quick Mask and selection tools for this, but the simplicity of the Pen tool can save time.

3. Stroke the path


In Paths panel, tap the Load Path as Selection icon and invert with Shift+Cmd/Ctrl+I. Switch over to the Layers panel, and make new layer with Shift+Cmd/ Ctrl+N. Use Edit>Stroke with Width set as 10px and Location ticked as Outside.

4. Add guitar details


Continue adding detail by making paths for the smaller elements of the guitar. Stroke these elements as before only on a slightly smaller pixel setting, around 6px. Colour can be changed easily with a Layer Style.

5. Bring on the stars


Fill background layer with black and use Filter>Add Noise, setting the slider around 10%. Cmd/Ctrl+T to Scale, enlarging to 400%. Use Levels (Cmd/Ctrl+L), adjusting sliders to diminish the number.

6. Thin them out


Now we have some nice stars, but we need to thin them out. Make a new layer above the background, and use a soft round Airbrush set with low Opacity in black to paint over, creating depth and diversity. Cmd/Ctrl+E to merge this layer.

7. Add final sky detail


Use Clone Stamp with Mode set to Screen to make groups of stars, then follow it up with a soft Airbrush in blues and pinks to create a space sky effect. Add extra stars by hand, if you like, by using a small brush.

8. Create the music lines


Open up a new document and draw five long lines on a new layer, the end result resembling lines from sheet music. Paste into our main document, then Cmd/Ctrl+T to Rotate the line across the image in the direction we’d like the swirl to go.

9. Warp the line shapes


Use Transform>Warp to bend the lines so that they curve almost appearing to spiral. Don’t worry if it isn’t perfect on the first try, just hit undo and go for it again until you’re satisfied with the overall direction.

10. String them along


Keep adding more lines and warping them, stringing the ends along so that it appears as a single line. You can also make additional line strings in different directions, but keep the layers separate for easy adjustment later.

11. Reduce Opacity


Reduce layer Opacity on each swirling line layer according to overlap structure – meaning the furthest swirl back in space gets the lowest Opacity setting and those closest to front can have a little higher.

12. Remove and fade


Create a mask for each swirling line layer. Paint the mask in black along the lines that cross the guitar for removal. Grab a soft brush and stroke along the lines in the distance to fade them. The Eraser can be used as a masking alternative.

13. Electrify the guitar


Create a new layer above the guitar outline with Cmd/Ctrl+Shift+N. Using outline with Shift+Cmd/Ctrl+N. Using a custom brush constructed of two dots side by side, (with Angle set to Pen Pressure in Shape Dynamics) make random squiggles around the guitar body for an electric effect.

14. Add glow


To make the electricity really come alive, add an Outer Glow to this electricity layer with a layer style, setting the Blend Mode to Color Dodge. The Spread and Size of the glow can be adjusted to however you would like.

15. Add sparkles


Now go ahead and select a soft, opaque Airbrush. Begin painting sparkle dots in varying sizes around the guitar and flowing into the line swirls. Vary the size of your brush as you go using the [ and ] shotcut keys for ease. Now copy and paste the layer style from the electrified guitar body to this sparkle layer.

16. Make it musical


Use the Custom Shape tool to incorporate pre-made musical notes or make your own. Simply select them with the Lasso tool, then head to Transform>Warp. Now warp and bend them, twirling them along the spiral lines to make them appear almost as if they were floating.

17. Add contrasting colours


Make a new layer on top of the stack and set the Blending Mode to Colour. Brush over the image with a soft Airbrush in saturated tones of your choice to liven things up. Contrasting colours will work really well here.

18. Further colour enhancement


On top of the stack again, make a two new layers – one with Blending Mode as Overlay and the other as Colour Dodge. Experiment a little here, brushing on more of the saturated chosen colours on each layer.

19. Adjust and Finalise


Press Cmd/Ctrl+Opt/Alt+Shift+E to merge all layers together. Use Hue/ Saturation (Cmd/Ctrl+U) to enhance colour and saturation, then use Levels (Cmd/ Ctrl+L) to balance things with contrast.

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