Deke’s Techniques 048: Drawing Rays of Light in Photoshop

If today’s graphic looks like last week’s, it because today builds on last week’s theme. But the topic is fresh. Today, I show you how to construct rays of soft, blurry, and entirely fabricated light using none other than vector-based shape layers. In Photoshop. With the help of the Polygon tool and the Masks panel. And the Linear Dodge blend mode.

So much sweetness, so little time. Here’s the official description from lynda.com:


This week, Deke builds further on his completely fabricated but no less green energy project, adding an altogether unnatural but otherwise sustainable starburst glow around a lightbulb. If you followed last week’s free technique, you saw how to trace around the lightbulb using a combination of vector-based shapes. Deke followed this up in last week’s exclusive Online Training Library video by adding a greenish glow around the bulb, using the meticulous outline as a vector mask. And that, my friends, is the starting point for this week’s free technique:

The starting point is a glowing light bulb in Photoshop

In this week’s free-to-all movie, Deke takes the whole glowing phenomenon one step further using two vector masks and a little known feature in the Masks panel to create a custom starburst. You’ll start by using the Polygon tool to create a very pointy, very skinny star shape, twice. Then you’ll use the Feather setting in the Masks panel to basically soften the edges of a sharp outline. The resulting effect is by no means realistic, but it is an enlightening mix of constraint and dissipation:

Crazy vector starbursts poppin' off a light in Photoshop

And for members of lynda.com, Deke’s got an exclusive video in the Online Training Library, “Drawing Concentric Glow Rings,” that shows you another approach, one which allows you to make an even more unbelievable burst of concentric circles. While you may never convince anyone this unreal glow actually came from a lightbulb, you’re bound to find creative ways to employ these compelling custom Photoshop starbursts in your own projects.

See you back next week with more Deke’s Techniques.


Dude, seriously, the concentric rings are where this technique goes totally radwire. I know dudes say “dude, seriously” way too much. But I’m telling you, I’m employing the phrase judiciously and full-on accurately. Like when God said “dude, seriously” to Adam. I’m saying: Dude, seriously.

The super-ooper ring-glow shit

Join me next week, when we’ll make an Indiana Jones logo.

Next entry:Deke’s Techniques 049: Designing an Indiana Jones Logo

Previous entry:Turning a Photo into an Ink Drawing or a Pencil Sketch (in Photoshop)

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