It is always interesting to learn a new effect in Photoshop. This tutorial offers the experience of creating a luminous burst of particles, possibly glowing in a galaxy far away. The captain’s seat is straight ahead – time for blast off.
This method uses “Noise”, “Gaussian blur” and nebula brushes to get the job done by using Photoshop CS5. These steps may vary slightly in newer Photoshop versions. It will not take too long to master the effect. Expect to complete in about 15 minutes or less. In this tutorial the glowing dust particles are applied to the background of the image.
Developing the Particle Dust
First, open the image that will be used and then create a new layer. In the Tools Panel, set the foreground color to white and then change the background color to black. The Filter setting in the main menu will be used to render clouds and set the “Noise” and to remove its color. Input levels are used to define the particles to add soft to harsh effects. After that, the blend mode will need to change to add those particles to the background of the image. Once the particles are blended, an eraser and nebula brush is used to create a more natural dispersed look. Finally, a “Gaussian blur” layer is added to create a glowing effect. These steps are explained in greater detail for beginners.
1. Create a new layer atop of the image in use. Go to “Filter” > “Render” > “Clouds” and then “Filter” > “Noise” > “Add Noise”.
2. Adjust the “Noise” levels to a suitable percentage. The distribution mode should be set to “Gaussian”. Be sure to check the box that says Monochromatic to change the “Noise” to black and white.
3. Press “Ctrl+L” and move the “Input Levels” sliders to the right. This will add definition to the particles. The second slider can be generously moved, while the first one should only be moved slightly in effort to keep softer particles in the image.
4. Change the blend mode of the layer from “Normal” to “Screen”.
Soften the Edges and Add a Glowing Effect
5. Reposition the particles in a way that fits the image best. To do this, select the “Brush Tool” from the “Tools panel” and then press “Ctrl” to drag the particle layer around.
6. In that same panel, select the “Erasers” to remove unwanted particles from the mix. Press the right click button to select a soft brush and make the diameter of the eraser at least 200 pixels in width.
7. Get a nebula brush or a brush with a grunge or stone texture. Right click to lower the “Master Diameter” of the brush to get a sharp cut.
8. Duplicate this layer by pressing “Ctrl+J”. Using the new layer, go to “Filter” > “Blur” > “Gaussian Blur” and set the “Radius” to five pixels. Blend the layer by changing modes from “Screen” to “Linear Dodge (Add)”.
9. Use the brush tool as done previously. Swap the background color from black to white. Using a relatively low opacity, sparingly click on random areas to brighten its luminosity and achieve a glowing spark.