How to Make a Force Lightning in GIMP

Updated February 21, 2017

In the "Star Wars" movies, we learn that the Sith characters, who are the bad guy counterparts to the Jedi Knights, can produce a deadly lightning using the Force and their bare hands. They use this lightning as a weapon against the Jedi when doing battle. Use GIMP, an open-source, free image-editing software, to add this Force lightning to photos of yourself and your friends.

Visit (see Resources) or another source for free brushes that can be used in GIMP and download the brushes of your choice. Save the file to your hard drive and unzip it if necessary. Place the file or files in the "brushes" folder inside the "gimp" folder (the "gimp" folder will have a number after the name, denoting the version number). Install brushes while GIMP is not open, or close and open it again to get access to brushes installed while GIMP is running.

Run GIMP and open the photo you want to use. The best photos are those with a person holding their hand or hands in a gesture similar to that of the Star Wars Sith characters when they produce the Force lightning.

Add a layer by clicking on the plus-sign icon in the Layer Dock. Select "screen" in the layer mode of the new layer.

Select the paint brush tool. In the tool options, below the toolbox, choose one of the lightning brushes you installed above, or another lightning brush you may already have. Drag the slider to adjust the size of the brush, and choose white for the colour.

Click on the photo to apply the lightning brush, making sure you still have the new layer selected in the Layer dock. Edit the lightning as necessary: use the erase tool to erase any ends that may go beyond the target object in the photo; rotate the lightning using the rotate tool if desired.

Repeat steps 4 and 5 to add more lightning shapes, if desired. Make a new layer for each one. You can repeat using the same brush you used before, or use a different one. To use the same one but get a different look, consider flipping the layer horizontally or vertically using the "Transform" command in the "Layer" menu, or resize the brush, or choose a different rotation.

Right-click on each layer that contains lightning and select "Merge down" from the menu. Do this until there is only one layer containing all of the lightning.

Select "Adjust Color Balance" from the "Color" menu, making sure the lightning layer is selected. Drag the sliders for the different colours to one side or another and view the preview to pick the desired colour. Click "OK" in the colour balance window when you have the colour you want.

Consider using the "Gradient Flare" filter (in the "Filters" menu) or the Blur effect (also under "Filters") to adjust the way the lightning looks.

Save the file as an image file, either JPG or PNG, so you can share it with friends or print it or display it on a portable device, as desired.

Things You'll Need

  • Photo with posed "lightning producing" hands
  • GIMP brush(es) in the shape of lightning
Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author

Melissa Worcester is a mom, freelance writer and graphic designer. She has been writing professionally for over 18 years and earning a part-time income writing for various websites since 2007. She writes about technology issues, business and marketing, home improvement, education and family topics and assists in her husband's home remodeling business. Worcester has a Bachelor of Arts in communications and psychology from Syracuse University.