In this quick tutorial, I'll show you howcreate realistic lightning in Photoshop.
Our night-time scene starts with a rooftoplayer, and a stormy sky layer, which I've used to replace the original sky using a mask.
First let's place our basic lightning by goingto File.
Place and selecting our lightning file.
It's best to use a vector graphics file,but you can achieve more or less the same effect using free lightning brushes, whichI'll link to in the description.
After positioning my lighting, I notice thereare a few extra areas of lightning that I don't want.
I hide these by selecting my lightningbolt with the Polygonal Lasso tool, and then pressing the mask button.
Then, because my lightning starts out as black,I clip an Invert adjustment layer to it to change it to white.
Now let's begin making this lightning lookmore realistic.
First I add some glow by going to Layer.
I setthe color to light blue and then tweak the sliders until I'm happy with it.
I don't recommendusing too much glow though, as subtle effects tend to look a little bit more realistic.
Therefore I tone it down using the opacity slider.
It's beginning to look OK already.
But ifyou look closely, there's a slightly pixelated quality to it.
To fix this I go to Filter.
And then tweak the filter amount.
I'm also not happy with the intensity of thelighting.
It should have a slightly over-exposed feel to it.
I correct this by clipping a Levelsadjustment layer to it, and moving the left slider almost all of the way to the right.
There's still something missing though.
Thelightning should be lighting up the surrounding clouds.
To create this effect, I clip an Exposureadjustment layer onto my sky layer and then raise the exposure.
Next I select the adjustmentlayer's mask, fill it with black by going to Edit.
Black and then paint ontoit with a soft white brush on a low flow setting.
You'll see this adds an awesome translucentquality to the clouds in the areas surrounding the lightning.
Now it's time to work on the lightning impactsite.
I place an image of some welding sparks into my scene.
Then I change the blendingmode to screen to hide the black background.
After positioning it over the bell I noticethat, in this case, the background is actually slightly off-black – resulting in some colorcontamination.
To fix this, I clip a Levels adjustment layer to it and move the centerslider to the right to increase the contrast.
Now it's time to add some extra light comingfrom the welding sparks.
To do this I create a new layer, select the Gradient Tool andset it to Radial.
I've set my gradient so it starts off yellow, cools into orange andthen decays into transparency – just as a warm light would do in real life.
I clickand drag outwards from the impact site, to paint the gradient onto the empty layer.
OnceI'm done I set the blending mode to Overlay and tweak the opacity down.
At this point, I decide to add some extralightning in the distant background.
For the most part, I use the same technique as before.
The only difference is, this time I slightly lowered the lightning layer's opacity, soit looks further away.
This adds to the sense of depth, and makes the scene look that muchmore dramatic.
That's it for this tutorial.
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