How to Do Lightning Effects in Photoshop

Lightning effects created in Photoshop
Lightning effects created in Photoshop | Source

You can manipulate photo in Photoshop by creating lightning effects. Creating artificial lightning or adding lightning effects in photo is fun. There are number of ways to do lightning effects. Here are some methods I follow, and I believe even the beginners will find these lightning effects tutorials handy. You don’t have to be rigid and follow my settings, you may experiment with tools and presets, especially in the Filter gallery, and get amazing results.

Photoshop lightning effects
Photoshop lightning effects | Source

Photoshop Lightning Tutorial

Create a new document.

Set black as foreground color and white as background color.

Go to Gradient tool, select black and white preset. Make sure you have chosen linear gradient.

Drag the pointers and set the color range. The color range determines the thickness and the curve of the lightning strike. If you are not satisfied, you can always go back and reset the pointers in Gradient bar.

After you have set the gradient, hold shift and drag. Your canvas will be filled with black and white gradient.

Go to Filter→Render→Difference Clouds

Go to Image→Adjustments→Invert (Short Cut Key: Ctrl I)

Go to Image→Adjustments→Levels (Short Cut Key: Ctrl L)

Set Input level to high so that you get a thin strike resembling lightning.

Create a new layer, and select Gradient tool. This time drag the line in different orientation. Click Ctrl F to create Difference Clouds, Ctrl I to Invert and Crtl L for Levels. Go to blending options and choose screen as blending mode.

Click Ctrl T and transform the orientation of the lightning effect so that it blends with the first strike.

Click Ctrl E and blend the layers.

You can create as many lightning strikes as you like and blend with the first lightning effect, but make sure do don’t overdo it.

Select a hard brush and paint black color over unnecessary parts. Choose soft brush to blur the edges of the strike, if necessary.

Go to Image→Adjustments→Hue/Saturation (Short Cut Key: Ctrl U)

Check Colorize and set hue and saturation.

Lightning effects artificially created in Photoshop
Lightning effects artificially created in Photoshop | Source

Adding Lightning Effects in a Photo in Photoshop


Open a photo in Photoshop.

Create a new layer. Make sure your foreground color is black.

Click Gradient tool and select black and white preset.

Hold shift and drag, your canvas will be filled with black and white gradient.

Go to Filter→Render→Difference Clouds

Click Ctrl I to Invert, Crtl L for Levels. Adjust the levels so that the strike you see in the canvas resembles lightning. You can create few other strikes if you want.

Go to blending options and select screen as blending mode.

If you have set the background of gradient layer to transparent, you can simply choose eraser tool and delete unnecessary parts. If not then add a layer mask. You can find layer mask icon on the bottom of layer panel. Now, you can go to the gradient layer, select soft brush and delete unnecessary parts.

Click Ctrl U to set hue and saturation. Check colorize and drag the pointers on hue and saturation left and right to set the color of lightning effect.

You can also go to Color Balance (Ctrl B) to set the color of the lightning.

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Comments 15 comments

Vinaya Ghimire profile image

Vinaya Ghimire 3 years ago from Nepal Author

Hello Mary

These days we have find all sorts brush, do work on our photos. But I love to work manually on my photos.

Thanks for your comment.

Cheers


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 3 years ago from New York

I don't know how this one slipped by me but it did. Who would have thought? This is so cool and your directions, as always, simple and direct! Thanks for all the Photoshop lessons, keep them coming!

Voted up, useful, and interesting.


Vinaya Ghimire profile image

Vinaya Ghimire 3 years ago from Nepal Author

@Mhatter, thanks for always landing on my pages.

@DDE, I'm glad to be your teacher.

@MartieCoester, I believe more than the program result is important. Thanks for stopping by.

@Radha, thanks.

@fpherj, I've been using Photoshop for a while.Thanks for reading my tutorials.

@always exploring, thanks for your valuable feedback.

@Eddy, thanks for stopping by.

@teaches, I love doing photography and creative retouch in photo. Thanks for appreciating my works.

@Peggy, thanks for reading my photoshop tutorials, and always leaving valuable comments.


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 3 years ago from Houston, Texas

Hi Vinaya,

Lightening can add such a dramatic effect to a photo and you demonstrated this well with your photos. Someday when I will set aside many hours, I know I will be coming back and trying out all these effects using your tutorials. Up, useful and interesting votes. Great series about using Photoshop!


teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 3 years ago

Vinaya, this is great information and instruction on capturing the beauty of nature. I do think lightning can be a thing of wonder to capture in a photo. You have done this very well.


Eiddwen profile image

Eiddwen 3 years ago from Wales

A wonderful hub Vinaya and thanks for sharing.

Eddy.


always exploring profile image

always exploring 3 years ago from Southern Illinois

Something to look into. Amazing what you can do now. Thank you Vinaya..


fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 3 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

Vinaya....You are really living it up with Photo Shop...aren't you? So many things that can be created. Thanks for sharing this great info with us!.....Are you a professional photographer?? .....UP+++


radhapriestess 3 years ago

It is a great article on learning how to do this. I like that lightning.


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 3 years ago from South Africa

Amazing! I still have to get on top of Photoshop. I am using PhotoStudio. Thanks, Vinaya, for these instructions. Voted up and useful.


DDE profile image

DDE 3 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

You definitely taught me something!


Mhatter99 profile image

Mhatter99 3 years ago from San Francisco

Thank you for this.


Vinaya Ghimire profile image

Vinaya Ghimire 3 years ago from Nepal Author

@Frank, I'm glad that I was able to teach you.

@Curiad, I hope so.

Thanks for commenting. Cheers


Curiad profile image

Curiad 3 years ago from Lake Charles, LA.

Very nice Vinaya, I am sure many can use these tips!

Mark


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 3 years ago from Shelton

thanks again teacher I do learn a lot from your hubs Vin :)

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