Photoshop Tutorial: How to Create Lightning

Photoshop Tutorial How to Create Lightning
Written by Alyssia Walmsley

With Photoshop, you can pretty much do almost anything. In essence, you’re playing god in the computer art world, creating and editing whatever suits your taste. If you want to play Zeus, then here are the steps to create lightning. Using the tools that were already programmed in Photoshop.

Step 1: Making Clouds

You can’t have lightning unless you got clouds, same in Photoshop. First, create a new layer and name it Lightning. You can name it whatever you want, but Lightning seems to be the most logical in this case. Second, make sure your foreground and background colors are set to default, black and white, respectively. This can be done manually, or you can just press D. This is the same for both PC and Mac. Once the colors are set to default, go to the Filter menu at the top of the window and choose Render, then Clouds.

Step 2: Make More Clouds

Now, one cloud won’t just create lightning, it’s pretty harmless. Again, same in Photoshop. This time, instead of rendering another cloud, go back to Filter, Render, and then Difference Clouds. Once that is done, go to the Image menu at the top of the window and select Adjust, then Invert. This should result in something that looks like lightning.

Step 3: Finishing Touches

To finish, double-click on the empty area to the right of the layer name, and then pull in the upper-left slider. You’ll want to split the sliders by holding down the Option key for Mac users and the Alt key for PC users. The right half of the slider should be moved all the way to the right edge. Next, grab the left edge of the slider and start moving to the right until you are satisfied with the look of the lightning. To have an idea of how far you need to move it to begin making it look like lightning, you’re going to have to move the slider almost all the way to the right as well.

As with Photoshop and many problems of life, there are multiple solutions and multiple paths. This is just one of many ways to make lightning in Photoshop. Fiddle around with this method and also combine it with other methods that you already know to make this lightning look more realistic. After all, creating art is like magic, you can’t give away all your secrets.

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About the author

Alyssia Walmsley

Alyssia is a Cornell University graduate of 2003 and a former lead technology development manager for Microsoft and Cisco Networking Systems. Between writing on her blog, SkyGone Inc, loves adventures and chocolate sprinkles!

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