Adding Streaks of Light to Images Using Photoshop

A stunning photo combined with light streaks can make for a very appealing ad for poster printingbrochures, and more. And the good news is that anyone can add streaks of light to images with Photoshop. The steps are fairly simple and do not require much time.

Step 1
First open your photo in Photoshop. The image I will be using is a photo of two BMWs from Stock.xchng. Keep in mind that streaks of light look amazing on a number of images, from sexy portraits to cell phones to guitars.

new layer

Step 2
Add a new layer. This is the layer you will be using for the light streaks.

pen tool

Step 3
First select the Pen tool. In the Pen toolbar that appears at the top of the screen, make sure that the Paths option is selected.


Step 4
Start drawing your first streak by clicking on the section of your image you want the streaks to begin in. Do not release the mouse until you have dragged the direction handles in the direction you intend to take the streak. This is your first anchor point.


Then click on the next section of your image that you intend for the first curve of your streaks to be and drag your mouse around until the handles are pointing towards the next area you plan to place an anchor point.

more handles

Keep adding anchor points at curves and moving handles around until your first streak of light is complete.

first streak

Then move handles and anchor points around using the Direct Selection tool until your streak of light looks perfect.

Step 5
To turn the path into a streak of light, we will use the Brush tool. After clicking on the Brush tool, then click on the "Toggle the Brushes panel" icon located in the Brush toolbar at the top of the screen; this icon looks like a file folder.

brush tool       

brushes palette

In the box that appears, click on Brush Tip Shape, scroll down, and select the brush tip numbered "40." At the bottom of the screen, change the Spacing to 1%.

brush tip shape

Now click on the words (not just the check box) Shape Dynamics. Make sure that the Control underneath Size Jitter is set to Pen Pressure. Do not worry about the warning box that may appear to the left of Control.


Step 6
Now you will need to change the color of the brush to white. To do this, go to the Color boxes at the bottom of your tools bar and first click on the icon that looks like two black and white boxes. This will change the large color boxes to black and white. Now click the Switch button that looks like a bent line with arrows at each end. This will switch white to the foreground color.

white color

Step 7
Now go to Window>Paths. You will need to save the current Work Path by double-clicking on it. You can keep the default name "Path 1" or change the name. Then hit OK.


Next click on the Options button located in the top right corner of the Paths palette. Choose Stroke Path and in the dialogue box that appears, select Brush and Simulate Pressure.

stroke path
simulate pressure

After hitting OK, you should see the brush applied to your path. The simulated pressure makes the streak thicker in the middle and light on the ends, as if someone stroked the image with a paint brush.

first stroke

Step 8
Now go to your Layers palette. Click on the Layer Styles icon at the bottom of the palette and then select Outer Glow. In the dialogue box that appears, change the Blend Mode to Linear Light and in the Elements section change the Size to 30 px. Also, choose your color by clicking on the color box. I chose #F8EF05.

layer style
outer glow
Now click on the words (not just the check box) Inner Glow on the left side of the dialogue box. In the Inner Glow options, change the Blend Mode to Linear Light and the Size to 10 px. Choose another color, preferably darker than the first. I chose #FA7907.

inner glow

Your streak should now look like a streak of light. The line down the middle is simply the path and will disappear once you are done working with it. (If you would like, you can make changes to your path using the Direct Selection tool. Then go to your Paths palette and select the Stroke with Brush button at the bottom to add a brush stroke to the changes you made. I decided my streak needed no changing.)

streak with glow

Step 9
Now add another streak. This is fairly simple when you copy and paste to skip previous steps. Go to your Layers palette and right click on Layer 1. Then choose Copy Layer Style.


Now create a new layer, right click on it, and choose Paste Layer Style.

layer two

Step 10
Create a new streak of light using the Pen tool in the same manner as you did with the first streak of light. Before creating your path, though, sure to save it first as you did in Step 7; after creating the path, then stroke it as you did before in Step 7. If you would like to change the color, simply double-click on the Styles icon located to the right of Layer 2. I chose #CCA406 for Outer Glow and #9E4D16 for the Inner Glow. The same styles dialogue box should appear and you can make color changes as you did before. You can also make changes to the brush stroke before stroking the path as you did before in Step 5.

final image

Now you can call your streaks of light design finished or make some more changes. Have fun!

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