If you’ve ever attempted to write words using traditional light painting photography techniques, you probably know how challenging it can be to create words that are easy to read. In this tutorial, we will demonstrate how you can create a similar look without a camera and tripod. Let’s get started!
And for more insane lighting effects, check out our awesome selection of Light Painting Photoshop Actions from GraphicRiver. Or enlist the help of one of the talented professionals from Envato Studio for your custom typography needs.
1. How to Sketch Out Your Composition
Let’s start in Photoshop. Launch the program and create a new document. When creating everything from scratch, it’s always a good idea to make it really big. That way an A2 format can later be chopped up and cropped in any other format desired. We’re going to create a borderless illustration for an A2 and later crop it into an A3. So I created a new document with these sizes: W: 42.5cm, H: 59.4cm, 300 dpi, CMYK.
We want the overall shape to form a heart, so draw a heart really quickly. With the Paint Bucket tool (G) I made a black background. Using the Brush Tool (B), draw the heart shape.
Use the guideline to draw in your text with a tablet. Consider this a sketch. If you’re more comfortable doing this on paper, do it and scan it.
Trace your lettering with the Pen Tool (P). Check this easy tutorial to learn fast how to use the Pen tool if you are not very comfortable with it. Remember, you can always check your paths in the Path window.
2. How to Create the Multiple Lines
Select the Brush Tool (B) and change your brush to a 100% soft edged, 10 px diameter brush. Grab the Pen Tool (P), right-click and select Stroke Path. In the pop-up dialog, make sure Simulate Pressure is not checked and press OK.
Go to Filter > Blur > Motion Blur. Change the direction to a 60 degree angle and strength to 10 or 20. Press OK.
Reduce the Opacity by approx. 50% and Duplicate (Cmnd-J). Apply a Layer Mask (Layer > Layer Mask > Reveal All) and start to hide away portions with a large, black, soft brush.
Grab the Pen Tool and trace your first light streak in Path Mode.
Just as you did before, stroke the path with a 10 px brush. You need to do this individually in order to keep the appearance realistic. Alternate between 5, 10 and 15 px brushes and various levels of Opacity.
After you’ve applied it, you need to hide both ends of the line. Use a Layer Mask and draw with black on each end.
Use the original lines only as a guide. Start to add thickness to the letters, but preserve a classic typeface look by keeping the top and bottom of the bowls thin, and the sides thick.
As you progress with the words, try to thicken the left side of each letter. Doing so will preserve the spacing between the letters. Play with the different Opacity settings of each layer.
Remember to fade out each end of the lines, otherwise, they won’t look real.
Work your way through the letters until you have reached a similar result.
3. How to Add Color
By now, it’s a good idea to nail the colors of the project. Above all other layers, create a Gradient Map Adjustment Layer (Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Gradient Map) Use these colors:
Leave the Adjustment Layer always on top. Now that we’ve finished the lines, it’s time to add glows. Repeat the path creation process, but this time use a very large size (100–200 px) and enable Pressure Simulation. As a color, use a 50% gray (
#8c8c8c). Change the Layer Style to Screen.
Cover all the thicker portions of the letters with similar glows.
It’s time to add even thicker lines, but with Pressure Simulation enabled and white color. Use lines of varying widths (25–75 px). As always, make endings thinner using the mask.
Add thicker, soft white lines all over the letters. Also, I've moved a bit Gradient Map sliders to make it all more shiny look.
4. How to Add Flares to the Letters
Download this flare image and place it in your project. Rotate it until the angles of the rays are at 90 degrees. Set the Layer Style to Screen.
Duplicate the flare, and reduce its size. Rotate it by 45 degrees.
Go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur, and use approx. 30 px to soften the first flare.
Duplicate this flare (both layers) and place it around the scene in points of interest.
Repeat the previous steps to achieve the same effect for the bottom text.
Create a few more lines around the scene that follow the original path only to a certain point. Make them white, and of different Opacity levels.
5. How to Add Bokeh
Open the blurry lights image and place it in the document. Set its Layer Style to Screen.
Apply a Layer Mask and mask out portions of the image that have lights under the crop of the image. Make sure all the lights that are left aren’t sliced.
6. How to Enhance the Light
In order to add a bit of contrast to the lights image, add a Black and White Gradient Map Adjustment Layer and make it a Clipping Mask for the lights image. Set its Layer Style to Overlay.
Duplicate the lights image and apply it to different parts of the image. Use composites where you combine large dots with small. Set the Opacity to 30%.
We’re now going to combine these lights with a custom brush to make our own. Create a new brush, and change the settings (F5) as seen below.
Keep Shape Dynamics on and change the Scatter to 550.
Enable Transfer and change the settings. Keep Smoothing.
Use this brush to draw much finer blurry lights along the letters. Play with the brush's size.
7. How to Add Noise
We’re now going to add some noise without damaging the colors and lighting. Choose a 50% gray and fill an entire blank layer with it. It will appear brown because it is underneath the Gradient Map Layer.
Go to Filter > Noise > Add Noise and add a max amount noise filter.
Blur it by 0.8 px (Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur).
Change the Layer Style to Vivid Light and Opacity to 7%.
And as one last adjustment, go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Photo Filter. Choose the red one. Put this layer on the top above the Gradient Map.
Awesome Work, You're Now Done!
Great work! Feel free to share your own end results in the comments to show others.
Light Painting Photoshop Actions From GraphicRiver
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Create wicked light effects in a matter of seconds with this cool Photoshop action. A fully customizable action that allows you to make light effects out of any shape or raster, this download comes complete with light brushes. Create stunning effects in no time with this one-click Photoshop action.
The neon light painting action can be used to create cyberpunk or futuristic effects in just two seconds. It is very easy to use—after finishing rendering, it creates a well-organized layer structure with layer groups and includes different effects like bokeh, stars, neon lights, and others. Also, the author provides a very helpful tutorial on YouTube to make it all even easier.
Add cool light painting effects to your photo. As a previous set, this action's final result is easy to customize. The collection contains multiple color variants, even the gradient color style. There are seven light effect Photoshop actions with five different styles. Plus, it works with any Photoshop language version!
Want to make a perfect festive image? Enhance night photography? Make an ideal Christmas or birthday card?
This action pack will do it all! It creates realistic firework effects out of any text, vector shape, or raster image cutout. Like real-life fireworks, this effect works better on a dark background.
Paint any text, logo, or shape with colorful lights. This Photoshop action is extremely easy to use, and it transforms your layer into cool shiny lettering. It contains eight cool colors! This action is perfect for simulating glowing signs or for making cool party flyers. Also, it can help you to achieve an awesome cyberpunk style.
Now, you can create realistic lightning light effects quickly and easily. This effect adds mystery and magic to any text, shape, or raster. Just start the action and see the great result. Also, this set contains eight lightning brushes to enhance your image and make your design even more eye-catching.
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