photoshop creative

Create fantasy light effects (part 1)

Posted in:
Tips & Tutorials, by Mark White
October 11, 2014

Create beautiful colours, light effects and original abstract shapes by combining the Warp tool and Distort filters

1. Background setup

Start by opening a blank Photoshop Document and create a grey background with the Gradient tool set to radial. Create a light-to-dark transition from the middle of the document to achieve a background with a spotlight effect.

2. Add the model

Open the picture with your subject in and extract the figure from the background using any selection technique. For this image, the Pen tool was used to straight a path around our model. The path was then turned into a selection and the background was deleted.

3. Textured background

Add some texture to the background using a Pattern Fill. Otherwise find a nice textured stock image and place it over the background with the layer set to Overlay or Soft Light.

4. Shadow

Create a new layer beneath the model to create some shadows. Use a big soft brush to paint a black dot. Load the Free Transform tool  (Ctrl/Cmd+T), scale the shadow on the vertical plane to squeeze it and reduce the Opacity of the layer to 50%.

5. Abstract shapes

Use the Elliptical Marquee tool to draw a circular selection. With the selection active, use a big soft white brush to paint along the edge of the selection on a new layer. This way you can create abstract shapes with a soft edge and a sharp edge.

6. Warped shapes

Abstract shapes can also be created with the Warp tool. Paint a few soft white dots with the Brush tool on a new layer. Load the Free Transform and Warp tools and draw along the control points randomly to create abstract shapes.

7. Custom brush

You can emphasise your abstract shapes using the Stroke Path option. First select a hard-edged brush and customise it by increasing the Spacing to 150%. Activate Shape Dynamics, set Control to Pen Pressure and Size Jitter to 0.

8. Stroke Path

With the custom brush ready, trace a path along the edge of a shape and then Ctrl/right-click and select Stroke Path with the Simulate Pressure option marked. If the dots are too big, decrease the brush diameter.

9. 3D render

Insert some kind of 3D render behind the model. We’ve gone for something pastel-like and fluid, but you can choose any kind of cool stock image. Add an Outer Glow layer style, increasing the default Size and Range values then add colour with a Gradient Overlay set to Radial and the Colour blend mode. Now use a Levels adjustment to increase brightness.

10. Polar Coordinates filter

Paint a few vertical lines using a custom brush or the Rectangular Marquee tool. Now apply the Polar Coordinates filter twice using Rectangular to Polar. The final shape you will get depends largely on the position of the lines relative to the centre of the canvas.

Take me to part 2!