How to Use the Lightning Effect in Photoshop

Written by laura gittins
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How to Use the Lightning Effect in Photoshop
You can use several kinds of lightning effects in Adobe Photoshop. (Lightning image by professional from Fotolia.com)

Adobe Photoshop can create lightning effects that you can add to pictures or use as a picture. You can make several different kinds of lightning using many different techniques. You can create a lightning storm to show the fury of Mother Nature or add lightning bolts to a picture to make it look like your hands can create lightning. The options are endless.

Skill level:
Easy

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Things you need

  • Adobe Photoshop

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Open Photoshop and create a new file by clicking "File," then "New." Set the width and height to your needs. You do not need to change the background from white to black. Click "OK."

  2. 2

    Click on "Filter" in the top menu and select "Render," then click "Clouds." A black and white image resembling smoke will appear. Click on "Filter" again, then choose "Render" and click "Difference Clouds" to make an image with a more well-defined "cloud."

  3. 3

    Click on "Image," select "Adjustments," then click "Invert." This will invert the colours in the picture. You will see that your "lightning" has already started to take shape.

  4. 4

    Click on "Image," select "Adjustments," then click "Levels." Below the "Input" box, you will see three arrows, a black, grey and white one. Click and drag the grey one and drag it all the way to the right. Click "OK." This will take away much of the white "fogginess" from your image, leaving behind only your lightning. If you want thinner bolts of lightning, repeat this step.

  5. 5

    Click on "Image," select "Adjustments," then click "Color Balance." Change the numbers in the "Color Levels" text fields or drag the arrows between the additive and subtractive colours to change the colour of your lightning. Click "OK" when the colour suits your needs.

  1. 1

    Open Photoshop and create a new file by clicking "File," then "New." Set the width and height to your needs. Change the background from white to black. Click "OK."

  2. 2

    Click on "Layer," select "New," then click "Layer." Press "OK" to add a new layer to your image.

  3. 3

    Click on the "Brush" tool. Change the pixel width to any number between one and five. The smaller the number, the thinner your lightning bolt. Draw a wavy line on your canvas from one end to the other, either horizontally or vertically.

  4. 4

    Click "Filter," choose "Distort," then click "Wave." In the maximum wavelength text box, change the number to 250, then click "OK." Click "Edit," then "Fade Wave." Change the opacity to 50 per cent and the mode to "Screen." Click "OK." Repeat this step three or four times to create more lightning bolts.

  5. 5

    Click "Layer," choose "Layer Style," then click "Blending Options." Check the "Outer Glow" text box. Change the size to 15 pixels and the range to 20 per cent. You can change the colour to suit your needs. Click "OK."

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