How to Make Things Glow in Photoshop

Written by amanda tromley
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How to Make Things Glow in Photoshop
Create glowing lines in Photoshop using layers and blending modes. (Abstract fractal glowing curve image by nata_rass from

Adobe graphics software, Photoshop, aids in the creation of stunning designs and photo manipulations. Perhaps one of the neatest effects in Photoshop is creating glows. Whether you design abstract desktop wallpapers with glowing lines, or you need glowing text for your blog header, Photoshop is the tool to use. The steps described here will teach you the basics of creating glows. After that, the sky's the limit.

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  • Photoshop

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  1. 1

    Create a new document (File>New). For the purpose of following these steps, your document size should be 1024 pixels by 768 pixels with a resolution of 72 pixels per inch. These settings define the most common screen size.

  2. 2

    Use the paint bucket tool (G) to fill the background with a dark colour. The use of pure black is not recommended. Using a very dark blue or violet (or any other colour besides black) will result in a richer final image.

  3. 3

    Click the Create New Layer icon in the layers palette. Name the layer "Lines."

  4. 4

    Use the pen tool (P) to draw several smooth S-curves across the new layer. Allow your lines to cross over each other and follow different angles across the document. This is really a matter of taste, so keep drawing lines until you are happy with the look of it.

  5. 5

    Right-click on the Lines layer and select Blending Options.

  6. 6

    Check the Drop Shadow option and change the Blend Mode to Normal. Click on the colour swatch next to the Blend Mode menu. This will bring up the colour picker; choose a bright colour, such as magenta or orange, for the drop shadow. Set the Distance, Spread, and Size to zero. Finally change the Contour to Half Round.

  7. 7

    Check the Outer Glow option and change the Blend Mode to Normal. Bump the Opacity up to 100 per cent. Click on the gradient swatch below the Noise slider, and select the rainbow gradient that has transparent edges. Change the Size setting to 20 pixels.

  8. 8

    Close the Blending Options window.

  9. 9

    Right-click on the Lines layer and select Duplicate. This will copy the layer and style; rename the new layer "Lines Top" or something similar.

  10. 10

    Double-click the Outer Glow effect on the "Lines Top" layer. Change the gradient swatch to the rainbow with solid edges.

  11. 11

    Add some colour to your glowing lines by creating a new layer. Name the layer "Colors" and using a large soft brush, paint random shapes of bright colours. At the top of the layers palette, change the blending mode to Color from the drop-down list.

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