Advanced Glow Effects

Step 1:

As with pretty much every tutorial I’ve ever written we begin with a radial gradient. This one is pretty harsh and goes from a reddish brown colour to black. Here are the exact colour codes:

Foreground colour – #922f00
Background colour – #000000

Step 2:

In this tutorial we actually need a pretty intense centre, so what we’ll do is duplicate the layer we just made and set the one above to a blending mode of “Color Dodge” . There are a few types of blending modes, darkening ones, lightening ones, colourizing ones and inverting ones. Color Dodge is probably the stronges of the lightening ones. As you can see in the screenshot it produces a pretty full on centre.

Step 3:

Now in our glow effect it helps to have a nice textured background. So we are going to create a sort of smoky haze. To do this create a new layer, then make sure you have white – #ffffff and black – #000000 selected as your background and foreground colors.

Then go to Filter > Render > Clouds. This will give you some random cloud pattern as above.

Step 4:

Now set the opacity of your layer to “Overlay” and 30% transparency. In some instances this would be enough, but for our needs we want it even smokier looking!

So go to Filter > Sketch > Chrome and use default settings of 4 and 7 for detail and smoothness respectively. Actually you can probably mess around with those if you want, but the defaults seem to be fine.

When you’re done you the result should look a lot smokier (once its overlayed at 30% transparency that is). You can see the result in the background of the next screenshot.

Step 5:

Now before we can start making glows, we need to have something TO glow. Here’s where we break out the pen tool. If you have used the pen tool much I suggest playing around with it a little. There are some tricky things you can do with shortcuts but for this tutorial you don’t need those.

In fact all we want to achieve is some nice curves. Fortunately this isn’t too hard. I find the trick is not to use too many points. Instead rely on the pen tools natural curving and drag the mouse out for each point so you get a big angle. In this S curve shown above I’ve only used three points, the starting point, the end point and one in between to give it the bend.


Step 6:

Once you have a nice curve, create a new layer. Then click on the paintbrush tool (B) and choose a very thin, hard brush. As you know soft brushes are the blurry ones and hard brushes are more solid. In this case I suggest using a thickness of 3.

Note that you can have any colour selected as your brush colour because we’ll go over it with a layer style shortly.

Step 7:

Now switch back to the PEN tool. You must switch tools in order to do this next bit.

Then right click and select “Stroke Path”. You will get a little dialog box appear as in the screenshot. Choose “Brush” and make sure there is a tick next to “Simulate Pressure”. This is important as it will give your curve tapered ends which will make it rock!

Next right click again and select “Delete Path”.

Step 8:

You should now have something like the above. Just a thin, cool swishy thing.

Step 9:

Now we add some glows. The easiest way to make our glows is to use layer styles. And the best way to tell you what layer styles to use is to tell you to download the sample Photoshop PSD from the bottom of this page and then open it up and look through them there.

In a nutshell I’ve added two sets of glows. To do this I first use Outer Glow and then because I want a second glow, I change the Drop Shadow settings so that it becomes a glow (you can do this by reducing the distance and changing the blend mode to something like Color Dodge)

Oh and also I’ve used a Color Overlay to make the item white so that its like the centre of an intense glow.

Step 10:

So now you have the same line but with a cool glow coming off it. The beauty of using a layer style is that you can copy and paste it to other layers. To do this you just right-click the layer and select “Copy Layer Style” then create a new layer and right-click and choose “Paste Layer Style”.


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