Lighting effects have become quite popular, and are an effective way to add bright eye catching details to a photo or illustration. In this tutorial, you will learn a simple technique for creating brilliant light streaks which can be used in different ways to add motion and brightness to your designs.

Step 1

First, lets create a nice background for our effect. Open up a new Photoshop file, and fill the background with black. Now, create a new layer and fill it with white. We will use the Lighting Effects filter (Filters > Render > Lighting Effects) on this layer to create a nice soft gradient. Next to the Intensity slider, choose any color that you like as long as it is somewhat dark. For this example, I have chosen a dark pink/purple.


Step 2

Now lets create a light from which all of our streaks will be created. Start by creating a new layer and setting it’s blend mode to screen. Then use the Elliptical Marquee Tool to make a circular selection and Feather(Select > Modify > Feather) it with a value of 20 pixels. This will give our light a nice glow around the edges. Using the Radial Gradient Fill tool, we are going to give it some color and intensity. I like to use 3 colors for the gradient. The first and inner most color should be white or something close to it. Make sure to start the fill in the middle of your selection and end it a the edge.


Step 3

Make a copy of the light layer that we just created, and hide the original. You will need it later to make additional streaks. Now, lets scale(Edit > Transform > Scale) the light so that it is much flatter. Doing this allows you to control the thickness of your streak.


Step 4

Now we get to start having fun. To give our light that streak look there are two filters we can use: Wave(Filter > Distort > Wave) and Twirl(Filter > Distort > Twirl). By using Wave, you can achieve some very nice looking irregular paths for your light. Like any other filter with sliders, it takes some tweaking to achieve the result you are after, but you will probably need to up the wave length and amplitude considerably. Also, try applying the Wave filter multiple times to the same layer.


The Twirl filter will give you a streak that is moving in a more radial type of path.


Also, don’t be afraid to combine the two. By doing so you will be adding more detail to each streak, and making the overall effect more interesting.


  • dZine

    A very simple yet powerful effect, thanks!

  • lex

    really nice effect!

  • empe

    nice one, dude!!!

  • David

    nice tutorial! looks good.

  • Jack

    Hey, nice tutorial. I’ll try this out and see what else I can apply it too. Would be good for smaller images and icon backgrounds as it is quite eye catching.


  • Mario Borg

    very cool tutorial, thanks for this!!

  • San Diego Web Designer

    Awesome simple yet eye-catching effect. I hope to use it in one of my sites :)

    Thank you-

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  • Fabio Sasso

    Really cool effect, thanks for sharing ;)

  • Rachel

    Amazing how simple it is to achieve this effect. Great tutorial, thanks!

  • Captain-Varro

    Thats a brilliant tutorial there, shows how easy Photoshop can be… I can’t afford the software, but this will be good to know if I get to use it at school. :)

  • Shane

    That’s a very nice effect, and very well explained. Gonna have a play :)

  • Ps3 Update 2.17

    Good site I “Stumbledupon” it today and gave it a stumble for you.. looking forward to seeing what else you have..later

  • Buttons by Benny

    I’ve never seen it done that way. Very cool. Thanks.

  • jad

    thank u gr8 effect :D

  • Tanner Christensen

    Very cool, stumbled.

  • Dave

    Well Done.

  • Jenny

    That’s pretty nifty. I’m gonna try it and see how mine comes out.

  • Chris

    On my Photoshop program, the Lighting Effects doesn’t work. When i am on render under filter, the lighting effects letters are not black, however they are a translucent grey.

  • Qbrushes

    love the effect.

  • andrew

    the effect only works on RGB images for those of you who can’t use photoshop help

  • niteworks

    Wow, really nice effect. I never thought it would be so simple to create these streaks.

  • Cobus Bester

    Awesome Tutorial! The possibilities of what you can achieve with this simple technique is endless. Thanks for posting this.

  • TzG

    Nice, I usually use the pen tool to make streaks of light, I think I can use this.

  • BestJobs4U

    Nice tutorial.
    Stumbled it!

  • john

    great effect.
    but im having a problem at step 4 :(
    ive shrunk the thing down to narrow and thin(ish) and then when i try and apply any effects it doesnt do it. well it does do it, but they have no noticeable affect (the white bit gets a little bit blurred at the most). anyone care to shed some light?

    thanks in advance,
    regards john.

  • john

    cancel that last comment :)
    i’d just shrunk the thing too much. works fine now :)
    stumbling it now.

  • Henry


    Glad to hear that you figured it out.

  • Web Design

    Sick tutorial, great effect = love it! Thank you for taking the time to show us the process.

  • Abhinav

    nice could just twirl a rectangle to get a similar effect, but the varying pressure in this one makes it much better! thnx..
    chk out my blog too if anyone is interested in wallpapers and tutorials.. mind it i am still an amateur!!

  • sir jorge

    this is great, i just hope that no one over uses it…but alas…it will most likely happen.

  • Colin Miller – Freelance web designer

    Nice technique, I have been looking for something like this for a while. Good stuff!

  • Jurgen

    What a simple way… thanx!

  • Daniel

    Nice one, simple but very cool!

  • Aleks

    Great, thanks!

  • Toni

    Cool! Thanks! I’ll definitely use the technique you described for creating wavy lines.

  • 咕嘟


  • Matthew

    hey henry,
    at step 4 im on the copied layer and i want to apply the filter (filter > distort) but under distort the only active option is “lens correction”? cant select anything else (wave/twirl)
    loving the effect though, once completed..

  • JB Burayag


    This is awesome!


  • snehil

    ohh man i know i will sound a lil noob
    bt m nt geting the secon step.plz help

  • eliza millan

    Very nice tutorial, thanks I learned something new

  • IBK

    Good and easy effect thx again

  • Tom

    Hi. I cant find the Elliptical Marquee Tool for step 2. I have Adobe CS 2, does that matter? I cant find it T_T

  • jookeer

    very nice but i have one problem on step2… where can i find the Radial Gradient Fill tool?

  • Henry

    @Tom – If you click on the Rectangular Marquee Tool, you will see the Elliptical Marque along with some others.

    @jookeer – If you click on the Gradient Tool in the tool bar, you will find the Radial Gradient Tool at the top.

    Hope that helped.

  • David

    Wow i like it it’s so cool I did one But i don’t Look the same!!

  • / Maxime

    I’ve go a problem with step 2.
    How do you change the color of the radial gradient tool ?
    I clicked on ‘gradient tool’ on the left,
    then, on the upper part of the screen, I clicked on ‘radial gradient’
    If I drag a line, I just get a white light there…
    Help would be much appreciated because I’m new with photoshop.

  • Neal Trivedi

    Simply S U P E R B….

  • abhishek

    gr8 effect thanx for sharing

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  • Mark Abucayon

    I will try this one later very attractive tutorial and I would say that is Brilliant two thumbs up for you.

  • geoff

    how do you make the layers overlap in a way that gives the 3d effect? i tried this technique and mine came out much flatter, because i didnt get the twirls overlapping in a way that makes it look like it has depth.

    it still looked good, but not as polished as your finished product

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  • Pretty cool

    Looks good! Only thing I would choose to do differently is make it in black and white first then add colour at the end with the ‘Color Balance’ tool. Lots of control, and very visual.

  • erdem

    looks nice with easy to use settings..

  • Logotype

    Wow! Nice effect! Thanks for sharing!

  • Tarsila Kruse

    Very cool effect! Loved it!

  • mo mo

    that looks so cool

  • Gurly

    love this !!!!!!!!!!!!it reallii helped a lot!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!:)

  • http://sda HooCee

    Pure awesomeness, man.

  • cool18ever

    brilliant thanks alot ill achive it soon !!!

  • S!M

    Great work and keep it up…….

  • Alvaris Falcon

    simple yet very fantastic, thanks!

  • ghawyy

    wow wow wow great effect and i love it so much
    i will put one like that in my site logo

  • kevin tikotikoca

    cool effect..exellent work..

  • extenze

    Great effect, and easy to replicate. I think I’m going to have fun with this while I try to create some new ads.

    Thanks for the tip!


  • afzal

    holy!!! i dont believe it was that simple!!!!!!

    awesome tutorial!

  • Jhontalan

    Cheere brother. Exellent Work

  • mussa hussein

    Thanks broo, simple but nice technique. i like it

  • leonardo miguel

    esta muy bueno este tutorial
    tu nota es de 20 puntos.

  • Alice

    really nice effect, the haeviest part is to translate it for me into german =)

  • baymagic

    i folllow all steps but i don’t know why something wrong after step 4 i can’t do perfect wave and twirl i use cs2, cs3 but still i can’t. could someone explain me i’ll appriceate. thank you.

  • haifafans

    love the effect.
    thx a lot

  • gorge

    thank you for this tutorial


    Erm.. Im having trouble creating the Light source in the center of the layer. I set the gradient and everything, but it still just stays blank.

    Help please?

  • website design Roy

    Very nice tutorial. As a web designer, this will definately help me with some of the abstract background designs that I can do for my clients…Keep it up!!

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  • daniel

    A really cool effects, inspirative!

  • Steve Botello

    Very Nice Tutorial

  • jeff

    thank you for the tutorial

  • basana

    wow, cool, tks

  • sivas

    very good, thanks

  • makjla

    Hi. Very cool tutorial. Could you tell me which kind of effects have you appied to the image? I can’t reach the same effect and i like it so much.
    Thank you

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  • Frank J

    Very nice tutorials and thank you for sharing!

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  • shannonf

    Great one! Super handy!! I’ve been pissing around with brushes trying to get the same effect – and failed!

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  • Heaven’s Stab

    my one looks somethin like that :/ great tut, really helps out

  • assassine253

    can sombody explain the second step??? i need some help great toturial awsome effect!!!!

  • idol_kita

    this is somewhat easy compare to the others…
    thanks alot dude!
    it’s worth reading and trying.

  • robb

    wow this is easier than i thought.
    great tutorial.

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  • Tim

    My apologies I was in 16-bit…


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  • josef

    I tried to do this, but for some reason my attempt at Step 2 didn’t come through…. I used the circular marquee tool, and than used the gradient overlay and I got nothing…..

  • josef

    I also set the blend mode to Screen….

  • josef

    never mind…. lol

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  • CMYK

    Nice tuto!! Thanks!

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  • Amy

    One of the best and easy tutorial ever O_O
    THanks so much

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  • adri_rory

    Great tutorial !

    Very easy and simple ! Thanks for sharing with us !

  • AndyD

    This is the BOMB! Sorry, been listening to Spotify too long today! Seriously cool and simple effect.


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  • clippingimages

    WoW :) Awesome Tutorial. Easy and well explained . Fantastic to learn. Thanks to share this nice tutorial.

  • shirin

    very nice !

  • electronic toys for kids

    really nice effect!

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  • trendyedhardy

    Thanks for the info. Very helpful !
    ed hardy men hoodies

  • Chris – Freelance web designer

    Nice one – just used this recently!

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  • Santoz

    Realy nice trik..

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  • rajesh

    love this it reallii helped a lot
    i like this

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  • sepetli vinç

    this information most important for me.

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  • lolifofo

    wow it really worked!!
    and it’s cool. good job

  • Cairns Web Design

    I always wanted to know how to do this, thanks looks great.

  • Eric Shafer

    Nice beginner’s tutorial with a fun result. :)

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  • Tom Branner

    Nice Effect, but the Tutorial is crap. How big has the Elipse to be? Why didnt work Step 3. In my case there is no way to scale the light. Please explain everything in detail next time. thx.

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  • chenrui

    hi,It’S very nice,Can you send this PSD to my E-MAIL BOX,THANKS!

  • Ryan Kon

    I’ve seen this tut for months, but just got the will to do it few minutes ago :P LOL

    By the way, this is so awesome. I’m definitely using this effect in my next manipulation! Thanks for sharing this awesome thing!

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  • loan

    Brilliant Light Streaks Simple technique for creating brilliant light streaks which can be used in different ways to add motion and brightness to your designs.

  • information and tips

    nice, it’s easy and beautiful. I love it. Bookmarked. :)

  • http://dsdsfDFdf butter gnar ? jjejejjeje

    awsome yo. exept it was completely homo.

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  • Sam

    I must be a dork. Step 3 just doesn’t work for me. I can’t seem to get the gradient fill part done right. I use the radial, use three colors, but the background is different so when I go to step 3 for scale, not only does the light streak/wave/twirl, which is so cool, but the background also shows up as a different color. How do i get the gradient to blend in with the original background? I hope this makes sense.

    • Roseluck

      Did you set the effect’s layer blend mode to screen? If not, then you would most likely encounter this. Thank you for asking! Have a great day!

  • charan {andhra}

    it’ really nice but i wanht still more creations

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  • Jason

    great tut. Could be applied to many different projects

  • Ryan

    This is amazing. I had no idea it was so easy. I can’t wait to try it out.

  • Raman

    Very excellent tutorial man.easy steps and best tutorial.Thanks for sharing

  • rid

    Very excellent , Thanks for the tutorial.

  • vandana

    very nice …can you give a complete tutorial please.

    • Roseluck

      This was a complete tutorial. If you have any questions, feel free to ask!

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  • lace wigs

    That’s pretty nifty. I’m gonna try it and see how mine comes out.

  • Rania

    Yep, very simple but amazing ..

  • Bskelhorn

    Great tut, i have used it to create a London Irish wallpaper.

  • Paul – WordPress designer

    this is just what I needed for an upcoming project,thanks

  • Designer-G

    Why can’t I get the result for Step 3?
    I did (Edit > Transform > Scale) at the light layer but it does not look flatter. It gave me somehow a smaller size of radial. May I know what went wrong?
    Thanks :)

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  • D. Kranthi Kumar

    A very simple yet powerful effect, thanx

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  • D. Kranthi Kumar

    A very simple yet powerful effect,
    really nice effect

  • D. Kranthi Kumar

    A Very Simple yet powerful effect
    Realy nice effect
    Nice Tutorial! Looks good

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  • Clipping Path India

    I like the light effect and i thought that it may be difficult to create it but now i got the simplest way to create light effect.Its just awesome.Thanks for this simple tutorial.

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  • shoaib hussain

    wow this tuts is so nicely done that even a novice like me cud get it done.

  • lace front wigs

    I’m very interested in it. Thanks for a lot. I wish see the other again from you.

  • THegirl

    I didnt get it :(

  • THegirl

    THe modify tool isnt open like i cant use it i dont know why :(

    • Roseluck

      When he said to ‘Modify’ he meant to Right-Click on the selection,t hen go down to Feather. This is in most renditions of Photoshop such as CS5 and CS4. Thank you for asking! Have a great day!

  • http://N/A beko

    It just doesn’t work for me :( I am stuck in the Radial Gradient Tool Fill step and can’t achieve the gradient light effect for some reason. I made a new layer and changed its mode into ‘screen’ and set the feather radius to 20 px. What am I doing wrong here, anyone can help please?

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  • hans

    hi.. why i cant make lighting filter in step one !
    the lighting effects is blocked..
    any idea ??

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  • Rancho Santa Fe Real Estate

    Wow, this is exactly what I was looking for. I am designed the graphic for our new ad and this is great. Thanks again for this invaluable tutorial…

  • clipping path

    Good design :). Thanks for sharing.

    • mamun


  • Silvien

    nice result of the tutorial, but you have to work a little on explaining things with a little more details, not everyone had a photoshop installed and a mouse in their childhood :D

  • brackets

    thanks a lot, nice tutorial, excellent site

  • http://n/a mary

    Great tut and awesome effect. I’m a complete newbie and was wondering why I don’t see Lighting Effects? Its grayed out in the menu.


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  • ????? ??????????????

    thanks for sharing, very good tutorial!

  • Hello

    First and foremost I wish to thank you for this tutorial, Henry! But, I can’t select ‘Feather’, furthermore I cannot Modify any circle, square or triangle. I can modify if I select all, but this is rather useless. Is there a problem with my software? What am I doing wrong?

    • Roseluck

      When the tut says ‘Modify to Feather 20 pixels”, is CS5, as well as most other renditions, this means to Right-Click the Selection, then go down to Feather. Type in 20 for the pixels, and hit OK. You can’t see much happen, but it makes it so that he selection spreads out a bit farther, with smoother edges. Doing this makes it so that the Gradient Fill spreads a bit farther than just the circle, like ink bleeding. THnak you for asking! Have a great day!

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  • Brett Widmann

    Great tutorial. Thanks for sharing!

  • transportation services in miami

    Great tutorial.thats are so much helpful. Thanks for sharing it.

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  • cms website design in Nederland

    nice and great outstanding posting.
    thanks for this good work….

  • Cortney

    that is totally awesome!

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  • Lou

    Yeah I have to agree it’s a great tutorial, but it’s flawed because it fails to explain a couple of important steps – the most important one being how to access the gradient tool editor.

    Also, I feel the people who have had success and left comments are extremely inconsiderate. There are obviously folks new to this and have asked the question, but no one has even bothered to explain the missing steps.

    C’mon folks what’s wrong you?

    • Roseluck

      Well excuse us for having experience and not explaining how to open Phototshop to asinine idiots like yourself. Next tiem we will be sure to include how to turn on a Commodore 64 as well. Dumb American.

      • josh

        You are obviously an idiot as well, since you can’t spell time, one of the easiest words in the English dictionary.

      • A.

        No need to be so rude. He was just saying maybe some people could take 2 minutes to help someone out. We all started somewhere, right?

  • Chris

    For some versions, the Gradial Fill step has to be done from the Layer->New Fill Layer->Gradient. Hope that helps? I had the same problem….

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  • Development Cairns

    Hi Lou, The problem with describing how to access the gradient editor is that versions change. You are right though, nothing more frustrating than getting stuck and no one knowing the answer. I wish I could help, but I don’t know the answer either. I am just a developer dabbling in design (which I probably should leave to the experts lol)

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  • Rania

    I admire the valuable information you offer in your articles..visit me on
    Resep masakan

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  • Bryan

    I’m stuck on the part with the Radial Gradient Fill.

    How do i access the editor?

  • thermoforming machine

    wow! amazing, I am studying! thank you for your works!

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  • pdf to flash converter

    Great tutorial. Thanks for sharing!


    THANK YOU….! :-)

  • yizongk

    can anyone tell me how to fill the background with black or white? cuz i cant seem to find a way to do that…

    • Roseluck

      Hit Ctrl+F or go up to Edit > Fill > Change the Preferences to what you need. Thanks for asking!

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  • yizongk
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  • Electrical Contractors

    That’s a pretty cool effect, I may make it into a background for my website, thank you.

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  • aquib

    thank you for this effect

  • Commercial Product Photography

    I always like the lighting effect. Thanks for the well elaborated tutorial.

  • Adam Spencer Baker

    okay i dint understand step one i cant find this effect im using cs5 and i cant find it in the render filter

    • john

      can you shut up you little pussy

      • Photoshop Image manipulation

        I don’t like ur approach

  • Moly

    Fantastic tutorial, I usually create these awesome light effects in Flame Painter, it’s easy and then I make final touches in Photoshop. Thank you for sharing it!

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  • Ashraf

    wow this tuts is so nicely done that even a novice like me cud get it done.

  • mamun

    wow! its amazing…..

  • mam_raj07

    nice & fantastic……

  • Clipping Path

    Now it is easy for me to create a light streaks by this tutorial.

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  • Ahmed Tanim

    thank you for this effect. Clipping Path

  • Photo Retouching Service

    I really like the light stroke!

  • Rajesh Aggarwal

    This design reviver is an effective way to add bright eye catching.

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  • Vansh Mehra

    Great Tutorial i have done it keep it up sir 10000 Like foe this……………………….. Kamal Chandigarh,

  • Clipping Path

    Good one!

  • Sanjay Gupta

    It’s good one. amazing lightning streaks and posts. The most important how to create photography and designs. Great expireuns..

  • anil dawadi

    it ‘s nice tutorial

  • Clipping Path

    Always like to see the visual tutorial rather that the text one!

  • Ilja Y.

    That’s my first try. Not very good I guess.

  • Nitai Roy

    Great invention using Photoshop.

  • clippingmaskasia

    great tutorial ,nice sharing

  • lest of me, more of you

    ok here we go,

    if lighting effect is not accessible, make sure your mode is set to RGB colour + 8bits (Image>Mode)

    on Step (2) basically you just need to fill the Elliptical Marquee selection with White.

    then use Radial Gradient Fill by using blending option (fx icon)bottom of layer pallette or just right-click on the white round layer and select blending option)

    (blending tool> gradient overlay) and follow his settings or play around whats best suit you.

    and that’s it, the rest is well explained.

    as Jesus said in luke 6:31 “Do to others as you would have them do to you”
    For him[Jesus] to increase i must decrease

  • Adrian Mihu

    How did you do the center of the twirl to shine???…because mine is hidious…all the lines end there and they are ugly, straight shapes :/

  • Attachepr

    The resource makes me learned more and appreciate for your good sharing. Keep it up please.

  • Attachepr

    Nice effect by photoshop but Just learned it from you. Thanks for the sharing.

  • Attachepr

    It’s wondering and really impressive to me.

  • Attachepr

    Today I tried to do it but couldn’t properly. Hope after trying more I can.

    • john

      get bucket and stop crying pussy

  • Dylan Jones

    I hate vague tutorials where the author touches the surface of the steps without properly explaining it. What should be a short sitting ends up being a long process of wondering what the hell you’re doing wrong. very frustrating, pretty unhelpful, I’ve had this with many other a tutorial on this site.

    Perhaps it would be better to give the tuts a difficulty or ‘vagueness of author’ rating as judging by some of the other comments here I’m not the only one.

    Contrary to what some write below, this has very little to do with how much experience one has, if the time was taken to explain small details this would have been much more enjoyable.

    • john

      no one asked you pussy

  • Clipping Path

    brilliant Photoshop light streaks thanks for share

  • Photoshop Image manipulation

    Really Stunning tutorial….

  • Clipping Path Job (CPJ)

    A hard thing is made easier by you. Great help.

  • Xino

    thanks…incredibly easy

  • Clipping Path Job (CPJ)

    In a moment of opening this blog I got an impression to learn it even hope I can do it. It’s your kind help with a nice presentation.

  • Clipping Path

    Do you have any video tutorial on this????

  • Clipping Path

    need some video tutorial :)

    Clipping Path

  • Mehedi Hassan

    Though, it is little tough, but great tutorial indeed. Thanks for sharing it with us.


  • gaggan

    i was searching abstract tutorials, these are really awesome .. specially poster design, which i want to design for my company… thanks for wonderful collection

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  • Image Processing

    Lots of Photoshop tutorials I have read so far. I am really impressed to this tutorial. I just want to include one thing “Without excercise, practise and experience, the talent is of no use”. Thank you

  • wahyu

    its amazing , thanks for your education

  • shaman4d

    This tutorial missed something. I’ve tried to get final image, but the center of streaks doesnt look like in tutorial (

  • Guest

    This is what I made

  • Guest

    This is what I made in 10 minutes