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Design

Create Light Painted Typography From Scratch in Photoshop

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Difficulty:AdvancedLength:MediumLanguages:
Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

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

Step 1

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.

Sketch a heart

Step 2

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.

Write the letters out

Step 3

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.

Create the work path

2. How to Create the Multiple Lines

Step 1

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.

Change to a soft edged brush

Step 2

Go to Filter > Blur > Motion Blur. Change the direction to a 60 degree angle and strength to 10 or 20. Press OK.

Apply Motion Blur

Step 3

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.

Apply a Layer Mask

Step 4

Grab the Pen Tool and trace your first light streak in Path Mode.

Trace the first light streak

Step 5

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.

Apply Stroke Path

Step 6

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.

Draw black on each end

Step 7

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.

Thicken the left side of each letter

Step 8

Remember to fade out each end of the lines, otherwise, they won’t look real.

Fade out the ends

Step 9

Work your way through the letters until you have reached a similar result.

Half way through

3. How to Add Color

Step 1

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: #000000; #54000c; #d69f0a; #fffee9.

Gradient Map

Step 2

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.

Apply Stroke Path

Step 3

Cover all the thicker portions of the letters with similar glows.

Cover all the thicker portions

Step 4

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 even thicker lines

Step 5

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.

Add more soft lines

4. How to Add Flares to the Letters

Step 1

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.

Add a flare

Step 2

Duplicate the flare, and reduce its size. Rotate it by 45 degrees.

Duplicate the flare

Step 3

Go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur, and use approx. 30 px to soften the first flare.

Step 4

Duplicate this flare (both layers) and place it around the scene in points of interest.

Duplicate the flare

Step 5

Repeat the previous steps to achieve the same effect for the bottom text.

Repeat the previous steps

Step 6

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.

Add further lines

5. How to Add Bokeh

Step 1

Open the blurry lights image and place it in the document. Set its Layer Style to Screen.

Add Bokeh to the composition

Step 2

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.

Apply a Layer Mask

6. How to Enhance the Light

Step 1

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.

Add contrast

Step 2

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%.

Duplicate the lights image

Step 3

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.

Create a New Brush

Step 4

Keep Shape Dynamics on and change the Scatter to 550.

Create a New Brush

Step 5

Enable Transfer and change the settings. Keep Smoothing.

Create a New Brush

Step 6

Use this brush to draw much finer blurry lights along the letters. Play with the brush's size.

Apply the Brush

7. How to Add Noise

Step 1

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.

Fill a layer with gray

Step 2

Go to Filter > Noise > Add Noise and add a max amount noise filter.

Add Noise

Step 3

Blur it by 0.8 px (Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur).

Blur the noise

Step 4

Change the Layer Style to Vivid Light and Opacity to 7%.

Change the layer style

Step 5

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.

Apply a Photo Filter

Awesome Work, You're Now Done!

Great work! Feel free to share your own end results in the comments to show others.

Light Painted Typography by Alex Beltechi

Light Painting Photoshop Actions From GraphicRiver

Love typography and light paintings? Create super awesome text effects yourself by downloading one of the awesome Light Painting Photoshop Actions from GraphicRiver. Try these on your favorite quotes and more and check out one of our best sellers below!

Magic Light Photoshop Action

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.

Magic Light Photoshop Action

Light Painting 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.

Light Painting Photoshop Action

Light Painting Effect Photoshop Creator

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!

Light Painting Effect Photoshop Creator

Fireworks Sparklers Effect Photoshop Action

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.

Fireworks Sparklers Effect Photoshop Action

Light Painting - Photoshop Action

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. 

Light Painting - Photoshop Action

Lightning Light Effects Photoshop Actions

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.

Lightning Light Effects Photoshop Actions

More Photoshop Tutorials

Continue learning with us! Here at Envato Tuts+, we have lots of different tutorials to help you achieve your Photoshop goals.


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