Tutorial: How to Make a Lightsaber in Photoshop

photoshop-lightsaber-tutorial

Photoshop Lightsaber Tutorial

Find out how to create your own Photoshop lightsaber with this easy step-by-step tutorial!

Last year my good friend (and self-confessed Sci-Fi fan) Jen went to the London Film Museum, and got a great snap of herself with a lightsaber.

However – the prop lightsaber was just a white stick – and I remembered a nice method in Photoshop to add a glowing lightsaber blade effect.

I’ve included a step by step tutorial on how to achieve the lightsaber effect in Photoshop below. If you’d like to lean Photoshop in depth, check out our Photoshop courses.

 

How to Make a Lightsaber in Photoshop CS5

So – we’re starting with the original image, which looks like this. You can use your own image, or click on the one below for a larger version which you can download (right click > save image as…)

photoshop-lightsaber-original

1) Open the image in Photoshop

2) Next we need to make a new layer to add the effect to (so we’re not changing the original image) Select Layer > New > Layer.

3) Now we’re going to draw a white line over the blade. To select the line tool, choose the pen tool from the main toolbar . Then choose the line tool from the new menu at the top of the screen:


4) To make sure the line is white, click the “colour” box in the top menu, and then choose white:

5) Now we need to choose a line weight (it’s 1px by default with is too small) For my image I found 12px gave the right sort of effect – if you’re using your own try a few different settings and see what works. You set the pixel weight here:


6) Now draw a line where the lightsaber blade is like this:


7) Before we add the glowing effect we need to rasterize the line. Select Layer > Rasterize > Shape to do that.

8) So far so good – but the end it too square. So - zoom in on the end of your blade using the magnifying glass tool.

9) Now choose the brush tool.

10) In the top menu, you can now set the brush weight. Use the same width that you used to draw your line, and set the hardness to 100%:

11) Position the brush at the end of your blade, and carefully draw a rounded end like this:

12) Because the edges are quite hard, you’ll need to add a blur effect. With your line layer selected, go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur. Choose a radius of 2.0 pixels and apply:

photoshop-lightsaber-gaussian-blur

13) Now to add some colour! If you don’t have the Layers palette open, go to Window > Layers. Now right click on the layer with the line in it (probably called Shape 1) and choose Blending Options.

14) Now, tick the Outer Glow box. By default, the colour of the glow is yellow – but no-one has a yellow lightsaber! So – click on the colour box and choose something more suitable. I went for purple, but use whatever you like (depends if you’re a goody or a baddie!) Use a spread of about 30%, and a size of around 20px – use the preview as your guide and fiddle with it:

photoshop-lightsaber-blending-options
OK – you should have something a bit like this now – nearly there – but some finishing touches will make this perfect:

photoshop-lightsaber-blending-options-added
15) The edge of the glowing blade could still be a little softer, so add another Gaussian Blur. Again, use Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur. Pixel radius this time can be a bout 1px

The blade meets the hilt rather abruptly, so we’re going to add a lens flare to hide it – which will look pretty cool too!

16) Before you do that, flatten the image by selecting Layer > Flatten Image. WARNING – this will combine the layers and mean you can no longer edit the blade colour or effects – so make sure you’re happy with them.

17) Now select Filter > Render > Lens Flare
A dialog box will open to allow you to add the Lens Flare. Play with the settings until you get something you like. I used the 50-300m zoom version and set the brightness to 50%.
The hard bit is getting the flare in exactly the right place – as you can’t zoom in on the preview mode. Just keep clicking until you’ve got it right (you can undo by using ctrl+z if you get it wrong):

That’s it! – Here’s the finished result – click on the image to see the full size version:


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  4. Tried and Tested: Top 5 Features in Photoshop CS5
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Aaron Charlie

Aaron Charlie is a Creative Design & IT expert at Silicon Beach Training. Connect with Aaron on Google+

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One Comment

EyewearDude says:

Great tutorial! I Photoshop a lot of lightsabers on pics of my kids for fun and was looking for any new ways of doing it. We pretty much have the same technique, but I’ve learned adding the lens flare from your post! Really adds a level of realism to the end results.

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