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Link: Photo Realistic Chain Effect

Sunday April 8th, 2012 in Photoshop Tutorials

Realistic Chain Effect

This Photoshop Tutorial written by will show you how to create an excellent and realistic chain effect from scratch. The end product is very realistic as you can see in the preview above.

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by Woody

Skyrim Inspired Fantasy Glowing Mushrooms

Saturday April 7th, 2012 in Photoshop Tutorials

In this Photoshop Tutorial we're going to learn how to create a fantasy glowing mushroom. The result can be used in a fantasy wallpaper, painting or any abstract works that need some added drama. The effect is simple enough to make but is guaranteed to look great! By substituting colours we can also create different mushrooms every time. The inspiration for this tutorial was drawn from the glowing mushrooms found inside Blackreach in the game Skyrim; viewers who have played the game will know exactly what effect we're going for!
Fantasy Glowing Mushrooms
Preview the Final Result

Mushroom Head

Create a new document around 1000x1000 and fill the background with black. First we are going to create the helm of the mushroom so select the elliptical marquee tool and draw a 'squashed' circle near the top of the canvas. Fill this selection with a really vibrant light blue; I'm using #00e2f0:

Filled Selection

Make another selection so that the bottom half of the previous shape is entirely selected but leaving plenty of the top half unselected. Using the canvas edges as a guide produce more or less the sort of cut we are looking for:

Cutting our Shape

PressCTRL + J to duplicate the selection. This will make a new layer with the contents of our selection. So we can see what we're working with press CTRL + I to invert the colours of our new layer:

Inverting the Colour

This next bit is a little fiddly so make sure you get it right! Hold down CTRL and click on the thumbnail of our new layer to select it. Left click on the first layer, the layer with our blue shape on, and delete the contents of the selection. Press CTRL + D to deselect. You should notice, if you zoom in, that there's a very thin black line between the two shapes. This is normal:

A Very Thin Black Line

Now click back onto the second layer and make a selection along the point that the corners of the circle meet. Make the selection big enough to select every part of the shape beneath these corners. Delete this selection:

Another selection...

You may notice the faint outline of the blue shape. Before deselecting, click on the first layer with our blue shape and delete to remove this faint outline. Then click back on the red layer for the next step.

With the selection deleted, still on the red layer, deselect and then duplicate this layer, CTRL + D then CTRL + J. Go to Edit > Transform > Flip Vertical and then align the two straight edges together:

Lining two shapes up

Now merge the two red shape layers together by pressing CTRL + E. Looking a little more like a mushroom but the colours are weird. Invert the red layer again to make it the same blue. Don't merge these two layers. Instead let's name them to make life a bit easier. Make the first layer 'Light' and the second layer 'Dark'. Now we should have a rough mushroom head shape:

Our shape is taking shape!

Open the Light layer's blending options. First we're going to apply a gradient. Untick the box that says 'Align with Layer' and choose Radial. Lower the Scale to 0 and then drag the centre of the gradient (it should be a white or black ball) to the top of our mushroom, roughly in the middle.

Change the first colour to #1e5d61. Click to the right of the first colour to insert a new colour. Change this second colour to #06292b with a Location of 20. Change the third colour to #4fbac1:

Gradient Settings

If your gradient looks different you've probably got reverse ticked. Now gradually increase the scale of the gradient until the colours fill the majority of our mushroom. Try and make the corners either side to appear slightly brighter than the middle dark area but not too brighter:

Our glowing mushroom is taking shape

Next apply an inner glow:

Inner Glow Settings

Now open up the Dark layer's blending options and apply the following linear gradient:

Gradient Settings

And then an inner glow:

Inner Glow Settings

Finish it off by applying a colour overlay of black with an opacity of 40%:

Our mushroom so far

We're now going to add a bit of texture and detail to our mushroom to make it look a bit more natural. Create a new layer above both our layers. Reset your colours by pressing D. Go to Filer > Render > Clouds and then Filter > Render > Difference Clouds. Press CTRL + F to repeat the last filter:

Difference Clouds

Go to Edit > Transform > Scale and drag your clouds so they line up with the mushroom. Here I have lowered the opacity of the clouds so you can see them lining up; you should not do this:

Lining up the clouds

Holding Shift drag the bottom right corner of the clouds so that the right hand side lines up with the edge of the mushroom, then click accept:

Lining up the clouds some more

Now draw a selection from the corners similar to how we did before only this time with the top half... You will need to either lower the opacity temporarily on the clouds or hide them to get this selection:

Lining up the clouds some more and more...

Press CTRL + J to duplicate this selection onto a new layer. Shift and click on the thumbnail of the duplicated layer to reobtain the selection, then click back on the clouds layer and DEL the selection. Now your clouds should be divided into two layers.

Click on the thumbnail of the light layer to get the selection then press Shift + CTRL + I to inverse the selection. Go to Select > Modify > Feather and enter anything between 20-30. With the 'light' selection half of the clouds selected delete the selection:

Getting the outline of our detail.

Deselect and click to get the selection of the light layer again. Inverse the selection again but this time delete without feathering to tidy up the edges:

Cleaning up the feathered edges

Click on the bottom half layer of the clouds and move it up so that the edges of the 'dark' layer are completely invisible:

Move your clouds

Now repeat the above few steps only on the bottom half of our mushroom but use a much lower feather on the bottom half. Anything beween 5-10 should work. This should leave you with something like this:

Now we have two layers with clouds

On the 'Light' clouds layer set the blending mode to Overlay and lower the opacity to 30%. On the 'dark' clouds layer set the blending mode to Multiply and leave the opacity at 100%:

Now we're really looking good

On both layers go to Filter > Add Noise and use an amount of 5%, uniform and make sure monochromatic is ticked. No preview here as it looks the same in small size!

Now we're going to use a paint brush to add random patches of light and dark colour to our mushroom. Use a soft brush about 60 in size with opacity lowered to 70% and on a new layer randomly paint blotches of black and white. Use different sizes for a more random and varied effect:

Paint various sized black and white blobs

Go to Filter > Sharpen > Sharpen and press CTRL + F five times:

Sharpen the Blobs

Go to Filter > Blur > Radial Blur and use Spin, best quality with an amount of 10-15:

Spin those blobs!

Now change the overlay mode to Overlay:

Overlay the swirly bits

Let's clean the layer up by getting the selection of our original 'light' layer, inversing and then deleting on the new layer.

Now we're going to give a bit of shadow to the mushroom to make it seem more three dimensional. Create a new layer above the swirly layer and draw a squashed circle like this:

Draw a Circle

Fill this circle with black #000000 and deselect by pressing CTRL + D. Go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and use an amount of 25-30. Lower the opacity of this layer to 60% and change the blending mode to Overlay:

Shade in black circle, then blur and lower opacity

Now CTRL and left click on the thumbnail of the 'light' layer to obtaint he selection. Press CTRL + Shift + I to inverse and go to Select > Modify > Feather and choose 10 as the amount. Delete the selection:

Our mushroom so far

At this point it's worth spending a bit of time applying the same effects to the bottom half of our mushroom. Add some clouds, dots like in the previous steps but make sure the overall tone of the bottom half is darker and less vivid then the upper half. We'll leave this part up to your creativity as we'll just be rewriting the same steps as before. Here's what ours is looking like once we've played with the bottom half of the mushroom, the 'dark' layer:

Progress So Far

Now we're going to make the stalk!


Create a new layer above the 'dark' layer but below the 'light' layer. On this layer draw a long but thin square line this one and fill it white. Make sure the top of the shape overlaps the top half of our mushroom by some way as we're going to need some room to fiddle with it:

Draw a long, thin white box...

Deselect by pressing CTRL + D and then go to Filter > Distort > Shear. We want our stalk to look solid and firm at the top, nearer to the head of the mushroom, and weaker and wavey towards the ground. By dragging the middle dot in the shear window towards the top of the box and slightly left or right we can achieve this effect:

Shear Filter Settings

Make sure to choose 'repeat edge pixels' for a smooth finish and your stalk should look like this:

The wavey stalk.

Use the move tool to drag the stalk roughly to the centre of our mushroom. Then move the stalk down enough so there's a gap between the top of this shape and the lighter half of our mushroom about half the size of the darker half of our mushroom:

Align the stalk to the centre.

Select the Smudge tool and choose a solid brush approximately five pixels in size. Set the strength to 50% and, on the layer of our stalk, drag sharp lines out in small curves away from the sides and top of the shape to make it appear like the stalk is connecting to the mushroom:

Gently 'slash' at the shape with the Smudge tool

Lower the strength to about 30% and go down the entire length of the stalk sharply slashing into the shape. This involves choosing a spot, holding the left mouse button down and sharply moving the mouse into the stalk. It will 'slash away' parts of our shape. Move the mouse but keep it within the shape so that the edges don't come out on the other side:

Try not to overdo it!

It's important you take the time to add enough variation and slashes to your stalk to make it seem like natural erosion. If you use a uniform style of slashing into the shape it will look very unrealistic and not very inspiring. In the likely event (I did it about ten times!) you do slash a little too hard just use the smudge tool on the other side to slash back into the shape. I won't tell anyone if you don't!

So here's how it looks now:

Overall View

Open the blending options of the stalk layer and apply the following blends:

Inner Glow Settings
Gradient Overlay Settings

With the gradient overlay when you untick 'Align with Layer' it's helpful to lower the scale to 1, then line the gradient up with the stalk. This will produce a more natural effect. The colours are located, left to right, at 0%, 25%, 50%, 75%, 100%.

The Stalk now...

On the stalk go to Filter > Sharpen > Sharpen and repeat once (CTRL + F).

Duplicate the stalk layer and create a new layer below the duplicated layer but above the original layer. On the duplicated layer press CTRL + E to merge this layer to the new layer, removing the blending options but maintaining the visual results. On this new layer go to Filter > Distort > Ripple, use medium with an amount of roughly 100. Repeat this three times:

The ripple adds some textural variation

Set the blending mode to Screen and lower the opacity to 70%. The edge of your stalk should look rough and hairy when you look closely:

Rough Edges

Now repeat the shading we performed on both parts of the mushroom head earlier in the tutorial by creating clouds and dots and applying the same effects as before. When painting the dots for the stalk try to keep the middle brighter than the edges with a few spots and patches of black, and vice versa for the edges:

Painting dots for the stalk

Set the opacity of the clouds to about 20% and set to Overlay.

Make sure you paint white dots as well:

Paint white dots too!

Remember to apply a sharpen a few times and Radial Blur like before! You will be left with something like this:

Once blurred it looks like this!

Set the opacity of the dots to 80% and the blending mode to overlay so that the stalk outline is bright enough to see. Tidy up the edges of this layer by selecting the selection of the original stalk base layer and inversing and deleting the selection, like before.

Now our stalk should look like the mushroom head:

Now the stalk looks the same

The last modification to our stalk is to blend the top in with the mushroom a little more. The best way of doing this is using the illusion of light to our advantage. Consider the light source is coming from the mushroom, how can we best do this? We're going to assume that under the mushroom is very dark, like the mushrooms we're basing this on from Skyrim. Therefore we're going to paint the top of our stalk and around black on a new layer and then blend this in with the mushroom head and stalk.

Create a new layer above the dots layer and grab a hard brush of about 5-6 in size. Make the opacity 70%. This part's fun - literally zig zag around the top in a messy fashion. Use white #ffffff. Try not to make the strokes too straight:

Make the strokes look hard and vivid and overlap them!

Now go to Filter > Blur > Radial Blur and use Spin, Best and an amount of 15%:

Blur the brush strokes!

Now change the blending mode to Overlay and invert the colour - CTRL + I

Now the stalk looks part of the mushroom.

Depending on how jagged you made your smudges back on the tip of the stalk they should still be slightly visible through the shadow.


When I first saw these mushrooms playing Skyrim one of the first things I said to myself was "they look like jellyfish" - furthered reinforced by the fact the mushrooms have tendrils. That's what we're going to create now!

Select the Pen Tool and make sure it's on Paths mode. Draw three to four dots from the bottom of the 'light' half of the mushroom to roughly three quarters of the way down the canvas. Make sure the first point starts just by the head of the mushroom and make your way down:

Draw lines with the pen tool

Then, with each point, hold down Alt and the left mouse and drag gently to make the line gently curved:

Make the lines slightly curved

Repeat this for each point until you're left with a curved line. Make sure it's not too curved else it might end up looking slightly unrealistic. Now we're going to add a brush stroke to this line to form the base of our tendril. Create a new layer just above the stalk layers. Go to your brushes window by pressing F5 and apply the following settings. Depending on the size of your canvas you might need to fiddle with these a little, but if you're using our size of 1000 x 1000 they should be suitable:

Brush Settings

Click on the pen tool again and right click on our path. Choose Stroke Path and then choose Brush and tick simulate pressure. This should produce something like this. If yours is too thick or too short you'll need to fiddle with the brush settings. Try raising the fade control if it's too thin and lower the diameter if it's too thick:

You should have a wavy thinning line...

Repeat this and create another four or five tendrils. Put them on seperate layers so we can modify each one individually later on. Space them out randomly and set them at random heights to add variation:

Try and make the tendrils vary in length and position

Now apply the following gradient overlay to every tendril layer:

Gradient overlay settings

On the gradient move the light green stop to 99%, and then add a new one at 100% with the colour #033237. This will help the tendril to fade into the mushroom head. Apply the gradient to each tendril. You can do this quickly by right clicking the first tendril's layer and clicking Copy Layer Style, then right clicking every other tendril and clicking Paste Layer Style:

The tendrils should all be coloured!

Now we're going to add some texture to these tendrils. Select every layer by first CTRL and clicking the first layer. Then, holding down CTRL + Shift, proceed to click on every other tendril layer. You should have a selection of every tendril then:

Every tendril should be selected

Create a new layer above all the tendril layers. Keep the selection! Fill this selection with white. Keep the selection! Go to Filter > Render > Difference Clouds and press repeat, CTRL + F, about fifty times:

The many difference clouds should make a very wavey texture

Deselect by pressing CTRL + D. Then press CTRL + J to duplicate this layer. Hide this new layer and then click on the original layer and obtain it's selection. Go to Filter > Sharpen > Sharpen and repeat once. Then go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and enter an amount of 0.5:

The texture should look sharp but have smooth edges

Change the blending mode of this layer to Overlay and lower the opacity to 50%:

They should look smooth

The tendtrils should now have a smooth, milky texture.

Now we're going to add some light blobs around the tendrils. This will be a glowing mushroom remember! To do this we're going to do two things. Firstly, remember the layer we duplicated a minute ago? Click on that now and unhide it. Get the selection and then go to Select > Modify > Expand and enter an amount of 10:

The selections should be bigger

Now go to Filter > Distort > Wave and enter the following settings:

Wave Settings

You should be left with a lot of dots everywhere within your selection:

Lots of dots made by the Waves Filter

Go to Image > Adjustments > Brightness / Contrast and lower the contrast to 0 and the brightness to 100% to turn all these dots into white dots. Finally lower their opacity to around 50-60%:

The final dots

Now make a new layer and reobtain the selection of every tendril as before. So that we can see what we're doing change this layer's blending mode to Screen. This time expand the selection (Select > Modify > Expand) by 25. Go to Filter > Render > Clouds and then Deselect, CTRL + D, then go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and apply a blur of 10:

A blurry mess...

Go to Filter > Distort > Ripple and choose Large with an amount of 300%:

A ripply blurry mess...

Go to Filter > Distort > Ripple and choose Small with an amount of 999%:

An even more ripply blurry mess...

Now go to Filter > Noise > Add Noise using an amount of 25%, uniform with monochromatic ticked. Then go to Filter > Sharpen > Sharpen and repeat once, CTRL + F:

Very noisy mess!

Now comes the cool stuff! Go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and blur by 0.5. Then go to Filter > Brush Strokes > Cross Hatch and use the cross hatch stroke and move all three sliders to the far right. Confirm and you are left with this:

The cross hatch should be very defined

Go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and blur again by 0.5. Now press CTRL + L to open the levels window. Drag the first slider to 200 and then move the final slider to 220 and click confirm:

The level adjustment should remove most of the dots

If yours still looks too strong and defined you probably missed the second blur.

Lower the opacity of this layer to 15%, reapply a 0.5 Gaussian Blur and then Sharpen, Filter > Sharpen > Sharpen, twice. Change the blending mode of this layer to Color Dodge and we're done with this layer! Now right click on the previous dots layer we made using the wave filter and go to blending options. Apply a color overlay using #11b6bf:

The dots should be green, the noise should be very faint white

Now let's make our mushroom glow.

Click on the background layer and apply a linear gradient from top to bottom using #01191a and #000000. Make the gentle green tint appear at the top of the canvas, the black at the bottom. Then create a new layer just above the background and below all other layers. Work your way through your layers getting the selection of the base layers of the mushroomhead, the stalk and all the tendrils:

Select every base layer

Go to Select > Modify > Expand and choose 15. Fill this selection with #25e9fe. Go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and blur by 25. Then lower the opacity of this layer to 25%:

Make a faint glowing background

Reobtain the selection of every base layer once more, but this time simply fill the selection with #4df0ff on a new layer. With this new layer go to Filter > Blur > Motion Blur and use an angle of 90 and a distance of 340. Repeat this two to three times and then lower the opacity to 50%.

And we're done!

You may notice the cross stitch dots we made are a little too obvious depending on how large your canvas is. Simply go back to that layer and lower the opacity until it looks about right in the event this is the case. Below is my final image (click for a full resolution version):

Fantasy Glowing Mushrooms
View the 1000x1000 Final PNG high resolution file

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Avatar of Woody

by Woody

Archive: Adding Animated Lightning to Images

Friday May 22nd, 2009 in Photoshop Tutorials


This post is an archived post. This means it is old or has been archived for rewriting in the near future. Please be aware that the contents of this article or page may be out of date. If you need assistance be sure to leave comments and our community can help you.
In the previous two tutorials, Animate a Person with Rain and Lightning and Adding Animated Rain to Images, we showed you how to cutout any photograph and set it on a background, ready it for some animated storm effects and then add the animated rain in. In the final part of this series, we're going to add some animated lightning and make our person flash in time with the lightning strokes.

Creating the Lightning

Rather than create a lightning effect from scratch, we're going to use a stock photo of lightning. Sometimes, stock photography is the way to go, especially when trying to imitate real life effects. I will write a tutorial on how to create lightning from scratch in the future, but that's for a completely seperate tutorial. Anywho, I digress. Search online for a nice lightning photograph with a black or dark background and copy it into your image.

Paste this lightning layer below your cutout and rain layers and set it's blending mode to Color Dodge. If you used a large image, be sure to scale it down to a realistic level. Once you've sorted the lightning, your image should now look like this:

A bolt of lightning is now shooting across our sky.
We're now going to work on making this animated. We're not going to make it move. We're going to use a clever little trick to make it appear like it's moving, when in actual fact it's simply flashing. We need to duplicate our lightning layer four times. To do this, press CTRL &amp J. Once you've done that, it'll look pretty bad; but don't worry, only one will be visible at a time. The next few steps will refer to editing specific layers; hide all the others by clicking their eye icon when working on one layer.

Set the Opacity of the bottom lightning layer to 50%. Set the Opacity of the layer above it to 100%. Then with the last three layers, set their Opacity to 75%, 50%, 25%. If we made the animation now, our lightning would flash but would not appear to move. We're going to erase parts of the last layer to give our lightning a less stationary appearance. On the layer at 25% Opacity, erase the top half of the lightning, being creative with your brushstrokes as you reach the forks of the lightning. Use a smallish brush, about 30 in size, and make sure it's feathered. When you've erased this, it should look a little like this:

Our lightning should look faded.
On the layer set to 50% Opacity, repeat the above step but erase less of the lightning away. Use the same creative brushstrokes so that it looks a little like this when finished:
Our lightning should look less faded.
On the layer set to 75% Opacity, repeat the above steps but erase even less of the lightning away. Be sure to apply the same creative brushstrokes so that it doesn't look like somebody's erased half the lightning away. You can even add in your own little strokes for some creativity at this point. The layer at 75% should look like this:
Our lightning should look vivid at this point.
The only modification we'll do to the layer set to 100% Opacity is to erase it's edges slightly. When the Opacity is lowered, the edges of our image aren't visible. Since this layer is set to 100%, though, we can faintly see them. Take your eraser tool and erase along the edges to smooth it out a little.

Creating the Flash

Now we're going to create the flash that will light up our image in time with the lightning. It's similar to the lightning in the sense that we meddle with multiple layers and their opacity, but we're simply going to use a level layer mask at the top of our image and modify it's opacity per frame.

To create this, click the little half moon icon in the layers window on the top layer. From the drop down box, choose Levels. In the options that come up, enter Input Levels: 0, 1.00, 1.25 - Output Levels: 0, 255. With the Levels layer mask applied, all layers below it will be applied with this effect; an effect that will increase the vibrancy and brightness of our image. With this layer active and the 100% Lightning image visible, our image now looks like this:

Our layer mask makes everything more vibrant.
Whenever lightning strikes, the sky always lights up. Our Levels mask is raising the vibrancy already, but the sky itself isn't flashing. To fix this, we're going to add a gradient to the clouds. Create a new layer above the cut out of your person, but below the shadow used to darken them. We're going to set white as our foreground colour first; press D then X. D resets the colour palette and X swaps the colours round.

Select the gradient tool and choose the second type of gradient in the drop down menu; it should look like a white fading triangle. With this gradient selected, move your mouse cursor just below the top of the image and hold down the left mouse button with shift. Move the mouse to just below the lighter part of your image and let go. This will shade the top half of our image. It's too bright, however, so we'll lower the opacity of this layer. 50% is the perfect amount. Our image will then look like this:

With this gradient, the sky is a lot brighter all of a sudden:
Now Comes the Animation
With everything set, we're ready to animate out image now. We're going to apply the various opacity settings and visibility settings to the layers we've made to put this animated storm together. Once again, go to File -> Jump To -> Adobe Image Ready to switch back to Image Ready. The four frames we made before with the rain effect should still be there; create another 8 frames. This will give us plenty of room to work with our animation.

On frame five, set the first rain layer to visible and hide the rest. On the sixth frame, set the second layer of rain to visible and hide the rest, and on the seventh... and so forth. This will make sure our rain is still cycling whilst we create the lightning effect.

On frame five, we want to set the first lightning layer we made (the one at 50% opacity where we deleted none of it) and set it to visible. Make sure the rest are set to invisible. Also, hide the Levels layer mask we made earlier. On Frames 1-4, make sure that the lightning effect and every other effect is hidden. Now activate the gradient layer we made and set it to visible. Lower it's opacity to about 10%.

On frame six, hide the lightning layer we just used and activate / unhide the 100% opacity unedited one. Raise the opacity of the gradient layer slightly, and activate the levels layer mask we made earlier. Set this layer's opacity to about 50-60%. Ensure every other frame of our effect is hidden so it doesn't interfere with what we're making.

On frame seven, hide all lightning layers except the 75% one. Lower the opacity of the levels layer mask significantly and lower the opacity of the gradient as well. On my seventh frame, the gradient is set to 30% opacity and the Levels layer mask set to 35%. On the eighth layer, hide all lightning layers except the 50% and lower the opacity of the gradient again. Hide the levels layer mask; we won't be using this again.

When working with animations, try to avoid deleting layers at all times. Deleting a layer will delete that layer from all frames!
On the ninth frame, hide the rest of the lightning... etc, I'm sure we've established the pattern by now. Hide all of the lightning layers except the 25% one, lower the gradient a lot, to about 5-10%. The final three layers should be left alone; there should be a little period of time between the lightning otherwise it'll just continuously flash.

Sit back and enjoy pressing the play button. Your animation should cycle through. You'll see rain and a flash of lightning, and the sky and Sylar / your cutout should flash up. Pretty neat effect! That's the end of this tutorial. We've learnt how to (briefly) cutout a person from a photograph, add them to a dark and nighttime scene, prepare the background for our storm animation, create the rain, then add some lightning and a white flash to go with it.

This is obviously a tutorial, so I didn't create that epic an animation to go with this. With a lot of time and hard work, you can create some really astounding results with this technique. Just be sure to consider filesize whilst you're doing so, because it's always a factor! If you liked this tutorial, be sure to have a browse around our site. Plenty of excellent tutorials and links to help you further.

Leave us a comment with your results if you work through this tutorial, we would love to see your results. If you have any suggestions for improvements as well, be sure to add them!

Here's my final animation:

Animated Sylar Gif with Storm and Lightning
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by Woody

Archive: Adding Animated Rain to Images

Friday May 22nd, 2009 in Photoshop Tutorials


This post is an archived post. This means it is old or has been archived for rewriting in the near future. Please be aware that the contents of this article or page may be out of date. If you need assistance be sure to leave comments and our community can help you.
In our previous tutorial, Animate a Person with Rain and Lightning, we showed you how to prime photos onto original backgrounds to create eerie backdrops suitable for rain and lightning. In the second part of three, we're going to show you how to add rain to your image and animate it. This effect is simple to make and simple to re-create, whilst maintaining a high standard upon completion.

Creating the Rain

In order to create the best rain effect, we're going to want a seemless appearance. In order to achieve this we have to create a new image twice the size of our current image (If you've just joined us at this tutorial, just create a new layer above the image you wish to add rain to, or read Animate a Person with Rain and Lightning to familiarise yourself with what we're working with). This is because of the filters we're going to use to create our rain image. So, create an image 1040w x1040h pixels. Create a new layer and fill it with black.

Go to Filter -> Noise -> Add Noise. The amount you enter will heavily modify the amount of rain in our final image. If you enter too much, the effect will look pretty unrealistic. I'm going for 25%, which is a nice, balanced number. When you've got your noise, go to Filter -> Blur -> Motion Blur. Here is the part where we decide if we want drizzle or thunderous, monsoon rain. Since we're going to be adding a lightning effect, it might be best to go with heavier rain.

Set the angle to 45 degrees and set the blur amount to 50 pixels. This will create a diagonal streak effect that already looks a little like rain. When you've done this, press CTRL & A to select our layer, and then press CTRL & C to copy it. Minimise this document for the time being and go back to your Sylar / Cutout file. Press CTRL & V to Paste our rain effect onto our image. Make sure you paste it above the rest of your layers, and be sure to move it around a little so that you're using the centre of our rain layer and not the edges.

Set this layer's blending mode to Lighten, and our effect is already taking shape:

Sylar is now standing in rain!
In order to create our animated rain effect, we want to repeat this process a few times. Essentially, our rain effect will be multiple rain layers cycling between each other to create a random, streak effect. I would recommend four layers minimum for a random effect, although you can use as many layers as you like.
The end result will be enormous if you use too many frames at this size. Consider this when making your rain layers; too many will result in a gigantic filesize for our end result.
Repeat the process of creating our rain layer four or five times and set all their blending modes to lighten. This will make our image look pretty bad, but now comes the fun part of animating it. With your rain layers ready and set to lighten, go to File -> Jump To -> Adobe Image Ready to switch over to Image Ready. Create three new frames in your animation by pressing the new frame button. If you made more than four rain layers, create however many you need, minus one (because one's already made for you!) To animate our rain, we're going to set only one layer of our rain effect visible per frame, and cycle through them. Click on the first frame. In the layer's tab, hide all rain layers except the first one by clicking on their eye icons.

Click on the second frame. In the layers tab, set the second rain layer to visible by clicking on it and hide the first layer by pressing the eye icon. Repeat this process for however many rain layers you decided to make, ensuring you hide the previous layers. If you don't, more than one layer will show which will spoil our effect.

Preview images at this stage will only be stills if anything. The page would take a fortnight to load with six animated gif previews!
If you press the play button you can marvel at your rain! It looks nifty and realistic, especially when used with darker backgrounds and images. Unfortunately, it's coming down a little fast! We can fix this quite easily. Holding down CTRL, click on all of your frames. Where it has a time written (in my case, "0 sec", but your default might be different), click on it to bring up the times menu. At the bottom, click "Other" and enter 0.04 into the timer window.

At this point we've finished our rain effect! You can raise or lower the opacity of the rain layers to raise or lower the intensity of the rain, but this is entirely down to your personal preference. Your finished result should look like this image: Our Finished Animated Rain Sylar.

In the third and final part of this tutorial we're going to add a lightning effect and light Sylar up in time with the lightning bolts. Part Three: Add Animated Lightning

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by Woody

Archive: Animate a Person with Rain and Lightning

Friday May 22nd, 2009 in Photoshop Tutorials


This post is an archived post. This means it is old or has been archived for rewriting in the near future. Please be aware that the contents of this article or page may be out of date. If you need assistance be sure to leave comments and our community can help you.
Creating animation in Photoshop is not as easy as people would imagine. There's a few tricks that can be used to create some simple yet effective techniques. In this three part tutorial, I'm going to show you how to create a stormy rain effect with lightning from scratch. We're going to use a photograph of a random person in this picture to illustrate how the effect can be used. I'm assuming you know how to use Photoshop comfortably before trying this effect.
We first need a photograph of a person to use in our image. The sort of photograph you use won't matter much so long as the photograph is a high enough quality to work with. The sort of image we're looking for can have the target in any position you like, since being able to see their face isn't so important. Again, just make sure the photograph you choose to use is of a high enough quality.

Sylar Small Resolution

I am going to be using a photograph of Zachary Quinto, aka, Sylar from Heroes. You can use just about anybody you like, or use my image: Sylar.

Our first step is getting the photograph suitable to work with. This step can be skipped depending on the photograph you use, though. We want to "cut" our person out of the photograph so that we can paste them onto a more eerie background. Adding rain and lightning to a boggy moor will produce a much more stunning result than animating somebody's bedroom with lightning, for example. Just consider whether or not the background is suitable; an outdoor scene will produce the best results.

Cut Out your Character

Select the Polygonal Lassoo tool from the menu. We want to cut away all excess imagery from our person. This can be a long process depending on the size of your photo, but be sure not to cut any corners. The smoother edges we have the better it will look when we're done.

Simply use the Lassoo to select the areas you want to delete from the photograph. Be sure to zoom in very far to the get the most accurate selection. Make sure your Lassoo is set to zero feathering and make sure Anti-Alias is ticked. Take your time when cutting people out. Rushing will result in a very poor result. Start off by removing the majority of the background in one stroke:

Take off Big Chunks
And then tidy it up after to produce a smoother edge:
Then Smooth it Off
You can then smooth the edges off if you like with the eraser tool for the crispest result, but since we're going to be putting our image onto a dark background, this step might not be necessary. Continue to chip away at your background until you've removed it all and have a smooth edge you're satisfied with. If you do use the erase, be sure to use a ~50% opacity brush. Removing too much in one stroke will make your edges too sharp.
You can use the freehand lassoo tool for this step. I use the Polygonal Lassoo, however, because, despite being line based rather than free hand, it provides more control and as a result, a better end result. Also, in the event your hand slips with the Polygonal Lassoo, you won't ruin all of your selection and have to start again.
Once you're finished, you should have your person or character completely cutout from their background. This provides us with the perfect image to use in our finished result. Your cutout should look a little like this:

Sylar Cut Out

Download Sorry! Offline!

Preparing for the Storm

Now we're going to start work on our final image. Create a new document 520x520 pixels with any colour background. We want to choose a suitable eerie background to achieve the best result. I'm going to use a photograph of a random city at night (Download Photo of Night time City); you can use just about any background you like. Just remember that our end result will look much better if we use a darker, eerier background.

Paste your background photo onto your new canvas. Position it to your liking and then paste your cutout onto the image. You might notice, depending on the original size of your cutout, that it's a little too big. No problem, we're going to re-size it to fit; select your cutout's layer, go to Edit -> Transform -> Scale. Hold down Left Shift and drag one of the corners to re-size. Holding down Left Shift ensures that the proportions are kept the same. When you've resized to a size you like, let go and press the Ok button at the top of your screen.

Now our cutout is sat on top of our background, like so:

Sylar is now standing in front of a city.
Before we create our rain effect we need to "touch" our image up slightly to make it suitable for heavy downpours. At the moment our sky is too bland for a thunder storm and Sylar is looking way too bright considering he's stood in the middle of nowhere at night. We're going to fix both of these concerns before we make our rain and lightning.
Fixing up the Clouds
Firstly, let's touch the sky up a little. I'm not going to go into too much detail here as it's not the purpose of this tutorial; but essentially we're just going to make some clouds and mix them in with the background. Create a new layer below your cutout but above the background photo, press D to reset our colours pallete and then go to Filter -> Render -> Clouds. Then go to Filter -> Render -> Difference Clouds and press CTRL & F two times to repeat the last step twice.

Go to Edit -> Transform -> Perspective and move the corners around to randomise the clouds a little. Confirm when you're happy with the appearance. Next, set the cloud layer's blending mode to Lighten.

Sylar is now standing in front of a cloudy city.
It won't look very realistic yet but we're not done. With the clouds now only showing at their bright parts, we want to erase the majority of them. To do this, select everywhere in your image below the sky. When you have this selection, go to Select -> Feather and choose 25 pixels, then press delete.

Nearly done! Set the blending mode of your clouds layer back to normal (We changed it to Lighten to easily see the layer below). We're going to colourise it. To do this, press CTRL & U. Tick the "Colourize" box in the bottom right and input: Hue: 20 Saturation: 35 Lightness: 0. This will turn our clouds orange. Real life lightning clouds always have a crimson cum orange look about them because of the static electricity within. That's why we're going to go for orange. Your image should now look like this:

Our clouds now look orange and a little more realistic.
The final step to touching the sky up is lowering the opacity of our new clouds layer. This will lower the brightness and make sure it's looking lovely and realistic. An Opacity of about 35% should work perfectly well. To make it even better, you can blur the clouds layer a little. Don't blur it too much, though - people don't blur clouds in the sky!
Fixing up Sylar
Create a new layer above Sylar. CTRL & Left Click on your cutout's layer to get it's shape as a selection. Fill our new layer with this selection with the colour black. The shortcut way of doing this is pressing D to reset our colours palette and then ALT & Delete to fill the selection with the foreground colour. Since we just reset them, that'll be black. Lower the opacity of this black layer to about 75-80%.
Sylar should now look very dark indeed.
Now select a feathered erase brush about 200-300 pixels. Set the opacity to about 20% and put the flow at about 40%. Slowly, and carefully, erase the left hand side of the black layer gently Don't erase too much and don't erase too far to the right. We want to make it look like all the light is coming from Sylar's right, which is our left. When you've done this, it should look a little like this:
Now it looks like the light is coming from Sylar's right.
In the second part of this series of tutorials, we'll show you how to add the animated rain effect to our image and, indeed, any other images you desire. Part three will then show you how to add the lightning effect. Let's move on Part Two: Add An Animated Rain Effect
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by Woody

Archive: Set your Meteor and Rocks Alight with Fire

Tuesday May 19th, 2009 in Photoshop Tutorials


This post is an archived post. This means it is old or has been archived for rewriting in the near future. Please be aware that the contents of this article or page may be out of date. If you need assistance be sure to leave comments and our community can help you.
In our previous tutorial we showed you how to create a meteor from scratch using a stock photo and some clever filter effects. We're going to use the meteor we created and set it on fire to create a stunning burning meteor effect. With some clever filtering, colour manipulation and careful brushwork, we're goin to transform our meteor into a flaming ball of magma and burning rock, suitable for any spacescape landscape.
This is part two of a two part tutorial. If you've not read the first tutorial, be sure to read as some elements from that tutorial will be used in this one: Create a Stunning Burning Meteor Effect.

Setting the Meteor On Fire

First of all, we want our base meteor to work with. We want it all as one layer, so we're going to merge them. Click on the eye icon on the background icon to hide the background and merge the visible layers by clicking Left Shift, Left CTRL and E.
Make sure you're not saving over your original document when merging layers like this. You won't be able to retrieve them if you do, and you never know when you might need to do this.
Duplicate our meteor by pressing CTRL and J. Change the blending mode of the duplicated layer to Overlay. Your meteor should suddenly light up a lot if you've done this right. We're now going to change the shading of our meteor to reflect the fact it's burning. To do this, create a new layer above every other layer. Fill it in with a deep, crimson red colour (I'm using #AA1F1F just to be simple, but darker reds work very well). If done correctly, your whole image should be this one colour now.

Set the colour layer's blending option to Colour. Whoa! A little too red, I think. Let's lower it a little by lowering the opacity of our colour layer. We want to have a strong colour, though, so don't lower it excessively. About 40-50% should do fine. Once you've done that, your meteor should now be looking something like this:

Our meteor is now starting to look remotely like it's on fire!
Now we're going to add a bit of orange shading to generate a more fire-like effect with our colour shading. To do this, create a new layer above every layer except the colour layer we made, which it should be below. Select a beautiful, bright orange colour (I'm using #FFA200) and begin to paint around randomly in a manner similar to when we painted our meteor black in the previous tutorial. Be very liberal, though. Use a big brush; something like a feathered 100 pixel brush should work fine.

When you've done this, lower it's opacity ever so slightly and change its blending mode to overlay. The two colours (red and orange) should combine majestically to begin the foundations of our fire effect. Here's how mine looks before we go onto the last stage of this tutorial:

We're now ready to add fire!
Time to Add The Fire
The next and final step is to add flames to our meteor. There's an easy way of doing this; choosing a suitable fire photograph and using it as a stock photo. There's one main requirement; the photograph must be massive in order to give us the suitable size to play around with.

I tried out various fire creation techniques in photoshop and I don't think any of them looked any as good as using a real fire effect on our meteor. It's a lot easier than people would assume, too, especially if we choose a good image. There's a lot of photos around fortunately, unlike meteors. A Quick Search of Google Images for Huge Fire Photos returns enough pictures to keep you going for years.

Choose your fire photo with the thought in mind that we'll need to manipulate and erase various parts of it ourselves. Choose one with beautiful, long flames and one without any background detail in. This is the Sort of thing I'm talking about.

Once you've Found your Image
Once you've found a suitable fire photo, add it to your image. Make sure you scale it down if it's exceptionally big, enough so that we have some detail to play around with. We now want to erase around our meteor in a manner that would imply the fire is burning. Avoid straight edges, avoid little dents. Be very smooth with your brush strokes and make sure it's smooth right the way around.
You won't get this right first try. Keep trying until you achieve a desired result. Just be patient, practise and take your time.
We want to make the top of the meteor wild and vibrant, meaning we can be much rougher with the brush up here. That's what we left the gap for originally; you see, I had a purpose for that all along. Now we want to get a much smaller brush and erase around the bottom edges of the meteor to make it very smooth. Be careful not to erase too far over into your meteor however. It's essential to make sure the top half of the fire photo is not linear or smooth; rough up the edges a little, make the flames look like they're waving upwards.
A really good method of erasing around an object like we are is lowering the opacity of the layer we're working on slightly. The shape below will stand out through our image, but still provide us enough of a view to manipulate it properly.
So now our meteor is looking like this:
Our meteor is on fire!
Now we're going to make the flames look fantastic. There's a couple of filters and blending options involved in doing this. First of all, we want to make the flames appear a little more random. To do this, press CTRL and J on your flames layer to duplicate it. Set the blending option of the new layer to Overlay. Your flames should now look much brighter:
Our flames look very vibrant and dazzling at the moment.
Now set the blending mode of the original flames layer to Linear Dodge.
Our meteor is now on fire and it looks fantastic!
Hey presto! One spectacular looking flaming meteor effect. We can take this a tiny bit further by adding more, smaller fire images around the meteor to add more variation.

You can combine this with various other techniques to create a stunning burning nebula scene:

The Finished Product.
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by Woody

Archive: Create a Stunning Burning Meteor

Tuesday May 19th, 2009 in Photoshop Tutorials


This post is an archived post. This means it is old or has been archived for rewriting in the near future. Please be aware that the contents of this article or page may be out of date. If you need assistance be sure to leave comments and our community can help you.
This tutorial will show you how to create a stunning burning meteor effect that can be used on any space scape, be it as the main centre piece or just a background detail. The effect can be used over and over again by swapping the original background image, so we'll show you how to set planets on fire and make suns appear that extra more realistic.
This is part one of a two part tutorial. If you've already read this tutorial, skip ahead to the next section: Set Your Meteor and Rocks Alight with Fire.
Create a new document 700 x 700 pixels with a black background colour. We're going to first make our meteor. We can do this one of two ways; either by using a stock photo or by creating it from scratch. Given the difficulty of photographing meteors, we're going to create ours from scratch in this tutorial. If you've got one, though, by all means use it and skip ahead to the next segment, Set Your Meteor and Rocks Alight with Fire.

Creating the Meteor

We're going to create our meteor shape so that we have the base meteor to work with. Create a new layer and select the elliptical marquee tool. Holding down the Left Shift button, create a circle that fills the majority of your canvas but leaves the top clear. Keep playing around until your selection looks like this:
Your selection should not cover the top of the image.
Fill this layer with any colour you like; it will not be visible when we're done formatting it.
Choosing your Rock Texture
This is the most important part of this tutorial in the sense that a meteor will look exceptionally bad if an inappropriate base texture is used. Remember that meteors are essentially gigantic rock clusters; they are not one smooth rock. When choosing a texture, be sure to choose a rocky one with plenty of detail. The more detailed our texture is, the more detailed our final meteor will look.

We can either download a stock photo of meteors, or use a photograph of an existing meteor. I'm going to be using an old Photograph lying around on my computer; Click Here to download this Rock Texture. You don't have to use this photo, of course. Just make sure your image looks like a rock and doesn't have any visible edges or background detail, like flowers, fences or trees.

Paste your rock texture into your canvas so that it's the layer above the shape we filled in on the first layer. Your entire canvas should fill with your rock texture. We're going to remove the excess, but before we do, we're going to spherize is to make sure it maintains smooth edges. We only want to spherize the area our original selection is, though. To do this, CTRL and left click on the layer with our original shape on. This should make a circular selection.

Go to Filter -> Distort -> Spherize in the menu. Because we're creating a cube essentially, we need to make our image as round as possible for maximum realisticness. Enter 100% into the amount and make sure Normal is chosen in the drop down menu. Click Ok, and your rock texture should spherize where our selection is. This will make your image look something like this:

Your rock layer should now be spherized around our original selection.
Now we want to remove the excess texture from our meteor. To do this, CTRL and left click on your original shape again to get the selection. Once you have the selection, hold down Left Shift, Left CTRL and press I. This will inverse our selection (Or just browse the select menu and choose inverse from there). Press delete and it will remove all the excess texture from our meteor. Your image should now look like this:
Now our meteor actually looks like a giant round rock.
Now we're going to tidy the edges up a little. Hold down left CTRL and click on our original shape again. This time, go to Select -> Modify -> Contract. Enter 1 and hit Ok. Inverse your selection again like we did before (Left Shift, Left CTRL and I). We're going to blur the edges ever so slightly and feather them to make them smoother, and to make the edge of our sphere less obvious. To do this, go to Select -> Feather and enter 1. Click Ok, and then press Delete. This will delete the feathered selection around our meteor, smoothing the edges out and making sure we don't have any of our flat texture from outside the sphere showing up.

You should notice that your shape is now showing through behind your meteor. No problem; just press the little eye on the left of its layer to hide it from view. You will notice that your meteor shape now looks a lot smoother. Problem is, it looks too smooth. Now comes the fun part where we hack and burn at our meteor to roughen its edges up to a realistic manner.

We're about to heavily modify some hard work. Always make a backup by duplicating and hiding the duplicated layer! This way if we make any mistakes or ruin our image unintentionally, we've got a backup we can use. To do this, select our meteor layer and press CTRL and J. This will duplicate the layer. Then press the little eye icon on the duplicated layer (It will say "Layer # Copy") and there's our backup.

This is a good habit to get into if you're not already.

First of all we're going to cutaway tiny little slits all around the edge of the meteor. They won't be very visible at the end, but it will help to ensure that our finished product doesn't look like one giant sphere. This is a simple process. Create a new layer anywhere in your document (it doesn't matter where it is in the layers pallete, this layer will not be visible, nor will it be staying). Ctrl and left click our original shape layer (the plain circle) to get its selection again. Press ALT and DEL to fill the selection with our foreground colour. Again, it does not matter what colour it fills it with as we will not be saving this layer.

Press CTRL and D to deslect our selection. We're going to add a ripple to this new layer to roughen its edges up. Go to Filter -> Distort -> Ripple. Enter 700% for the amount and make sure the drop down menu is on Small. This should produce the following effect:

Our new layer should have rippled edges.
If yours doesn't look like that, then it means your new, rippled layer is below your meteor in the layers pallete. No problem, just hide your meteor layer briefly to make sure yours looks similar.

CTRL and Left Click on your new ripple layer to obtain this as a selection. We're going to feather it ever so slightly to make sure we have no hard edges. Go to Select -> Feather and enter 0.5 as the value. Inverse the selection again like we showed you earlier (Left Shift, Left CTRL and I) and press delete on your meteor layer.

Now you'll notice the edge of our meteor has dozens of tiny indents. It doesn't look realistic yet, but I guarantee this is a necessary step. Now we're going to cut some little indents out ourselves. Unfortunately there is no step by step guide for this stage; you have to do this on your own. The best way of cutting out realistic little dents is either with the lassoo tool or with a small, feathered eraser brush. I'm going to use the polygonal lassoo tool to do mine, though.

Try not to take too big chunks at a time. We want to keep this meteor looking realistic and dozens of chunky, big holes scattered around the edge won't look realistic. Remember what we said before; make a copy of your layer before you play around with it.

Try very sparingly to use long strokes. The longer the dents are, the less realistic they'll look when we're finished.

When you're finished, it should look a little something like this:
Now our meteor has very rough edges.
The last stage of making our meteor is raising and lowering the shade randomly of the texture. As it currently stands, our whole meteor is lit up. The next step of the tutorial, where we set our meteor on fire, will help with this, but let's make it even more realistic by applying a few filters now.

I experimented for awhile with this step and found the best result to be the simplist. We're going to go nuts with a brush and paint some black on. Select a 45 pixel big feathered brush from the brush menu. Set the opacity to 50% and the flow to 80%. Create a new layer above your meteor layer. Left Click on the original shape layer again to get its selection. Using the brush, we want to paint rough patches over our meteor. Make sure your colour is set to black and press multiple times occasionally for a darker effect. Try to keep the cover as even as possible, though; make sure there's no blotches or blobs of dark that're distinguishable from the rest of the black.

For a realistic effect, paint the bottom lower half more heavily than the rest. Once you've done this, your image should look a little like this:

Now our meteor has lots of dark areas.
It looks too much now, though! So we're going to lower the opacity of this layer a little. Move the slider down until it looks just right. Mine is set to 71%. For further realism, we're going to blur it as well. Go to Filter -> Blur -> Gaussian Blur. Blur it by 3-4 pixels.

Lastly, we want to lower the overall tone of our meteor texture. To do this, once again left click on the original shape layer. With this selection, create a new layer just above your meteor. Fill our selection and this new layer with black. Lower the layer's opacity to about 20-30%, depending on the brightness of your original texture.

We're about done with making our meteor base, so we're ready to get onto the fun part and set it on fire. Below is my result:

Our meteor base texture is now complete.
This is the first in a two part tutorial. Please visit the second part below to read the rest of this tutorial and set your meteor alight.

· Set Your Meteor and Rocks Alight with Fire.