How To Make Glowing Streamer Strings In Photoshop CS3 (Tutorial)
A Graphics String Theory
For those of you that don't know, my first passion is graphic design. And I thought I would take a little break from all my programming articles and show you a nice little Photoshop CS3 trick. This tutorial will explain how you can create those nice little glowing strings or streamers that you see in a lot of commercials and print ads lately. If your not familiar with what I'm talking about, take a look at the final image below.
The image on the left is our Base image or starter file. On the right we have the Final image with our stream effect applied.
The first step is to have a file or image that we want to apply our stream effect to. I created a simple little purple ball, but you could use any image you want. Open this image up in Photoshop CS3 and select the Pen tool and click and draw a nice arcing line over your image (Figure 1).
What you see next depends on how you have your vector tool options set (Figure 2). Your options are either Shape Layer or Path. And what you see next, depends on how you have this set. (I recommend setting this to Paths, the second/middle button)
If your vector tool options are set for Shape Layer, then your path is going to show up in the Layers palette as a shape (Figure 3). You will also see a Vector Mask located in the Paths palette (Figure 4). Double click this path to open the Save Path dialog. Choose a name, I choose "Streamer 1", and click Ok. You can now delete the Shape 1 layer from your Layer palette.
If your vector tool options are set to Path, then your path with show up in the Paths palette as a Work Path (Figure 5). Double click this path to open the Save Path dialog. Choose a name, I choose "Streamer 1", and click Ok.
Now we need to set up a brush to use on our path to create the nice little streamer. I've created a small little(11px by 11px) brush that has a large dot and a couple of smaller dots (Figure 6), but you can use any brush you like.
Once you find a nice brush to use, open up the Brush settings palette and adjust the Minimum Diameter to 20% in the Shape Dynamics (Figure 7). Keep the Control set to Pen Pressure. (Later on, you may wish to change the minimum diameter anywhere from 0% to 20% to make a few different "streams")
Create a new blank layer in your Layer palette, make sure it's selected and change your foreground color to a nice light orange (Figure 8). Select the "Streamer 1" path (Or whatever you named it) and by using the sub-menu from the Path palette, choosequot;Stroke Path..." (Figure 9).
Make sure the "Simulate Pressure" checkbox is checked (Figure 10). This will create a variable width stroke, which is what we want. Click Ok.
You should now have something that looks like a light orange stream flowing over your object (Figure 11).
At this point you may want to go ahead and duplicate this process to create about 4-5 unique streams (Figure 12). In my example, I created four unique streams. Each stream has a different brush stroke applied as well as a different path. Make sure the "streams" are on their own layer (Figure 13).
To get the "glowing" effect we must edit the Outer and Inner Glow settings from the Layer Style properties. To get to this, you need to select one of our stream layers and from the Layer menu, select Layer Styles > Outer Glow (Or Inner Glow). You can adjust this to your liking, but I find that setting the Blending Mode to Linear Dodge (Add) looks the best for the Outer Glow (Figure 14). And I just want to add a little warmth for the Inner Glow settings (Figure 15).
At this point your stream should have a nice glowing effect applied to it (Figure 16). Go to the Layer palette and change the blending mode on the stream layer to Linear Dodge (Add). Now go back to the Layer menu and choose Layer Style > Copy Layer Style and apply this style to the remaining layers. It might be a good idea at this time to group your stream layers into a folder in your Layer palette.
Create a new blank layer in the Layer Group you just created and make sure it's selected. Hold down the Shift and Command (Apple) Keys and click on each stream layer. This will create a selection that contains the pixel paths of each of the layers. This layer should be below all the stream layers (Figure 17). After you have made all your selections, fill this area in with a darker orange and perform a Guasian Blur with a radius of about 8.0. This gives the glows a little pizazz.
Basically at this point, all you need to do is duplicate the streams, rotate and scale them and play with the blending modes until you get something you like. The final image, after I played around with the streams, looked a little to warm to me (Figure 18) so I changed the group folder's blending mode to Linear Dodge (Add). This basically turned all the streams white, which kind of defeats the purpose of my Inner and Outer Glow colors, but I like the result much better. (Plus I was already making this tutorial, so I didn't want to go in a change all of the Layer Style properties.)
Here you can see other variations, using the same process (Figure 19). I added a small glow around the ball and duplicated the group on the first image. Same with the one on the right, except I added and merged a third group which I applied a ripple effect on. I also drew the energy stream on the top.
I hope you find this tutorial useful. I'm providing the Photoshop work file, which you can download below. If you have any questions or if I didn't explain myself properly on any of the steps, give me a shout out below.
* Note: this tutorial was made using Photoshop CS3 v10.0.1