How to create your own lightsaber

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THE MISSION

Make a glowing lightsaber in Photoshop

Time needed: 15 minutes

Skill level: Intermediate

Kit needed: Photoshop CC

Which will you choose – the dark side or the light side? With this quick Photoshop tutorial you can choose either. The first step is to take a photo of someone mid-pose with a toy lightsaber. This is a great project to get the kids involved with. Next, you’ll learn how to add the perfect glow effect with the Brush tool and a few layers and filters in Photoshop. It’s not just the weapon that we’re going to recreate here. To make the effect more realistic, you’ll need to think about how the light from the imaginary weapon will react with the rest of the scene. Having an idea of how the light will contour the ’saber holder’s face and hands is important. To get this spot-on, try holding a light in your hands while looking in the mirror. This way you’ll be able to see where the light falls. With some simple planning you can create a weapon fit for the likes of Obi-Wan. So, let’s grab our Photoshop wand and make some movie magic…

STEP BY STEP: Glow for it

How to add a lightsaber into your portraits

QUICK TIP!

If you don’t have a toy lightsaber and Jedi costume, put on a dressing gown and wave a broom handle around instead

01 PAINT THE  ’SABER

Make a new layer (Cmd/Ctrl+Shift+N). Pick the Brush (B), go to Window>Brush, make Spacing 1% for a solid line as you paint. Set a white foreground colour. Click on the handle, hold Shift and click the end of the ’saber. Use a mask to remove the glow on the handle.

02 MAKE IT GLOW

Duplicate the new layer, right-click on the mask and click Apply Layer Mask. Go to Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur and set 75 pixels. Duplicate this layer several times to boost the glow. Now drag the original layer (with the lightsaber in) to the top of the Layers palette.

03 ADD A COLOUR

Click the topmost glow layer, Shift-click the bottom one, and press Cmd/Ctrl+G. With the Group selected, add a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer, tick Colorize, lower Lightness and boost Saturation. Alt-click with the cursor halfway between this layer and the group.

04 LIGHT THE FACE

Make a new layer. Choose the Brush tool, set the glow colour, right-click the image and set brush Hardness to 20%. Set Soft Light blending mode and paint in the glow. Mask out bits that spill onto the scenery. Blur the light with Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur at 30 pixels.

05 SHARPEN IT UP

To get a gritty, cinematic look, we’re going to use the High Pass filter to accentuate the edges in the shot. Use Cmd/Ctrl+Shift+N for a new layer, then Cmd/Ctrl+Alt+Shift+E to merge visible layers. Finally go to Filter>Other>High pass and choose about 80 pixels.

06 TWEAK THE COLOURS

Finally, we’ll colour balance the image a little. Make a new adjustment layer and choose Colour Balance. Click on Tone and give the shadows a positive boost on the blue and cyan channels, and turn the highlights orange by boosting the yellow and red channels.

ADD A VIGNETTE

First, choose the Elliptical Marquee tool (left-click and hold on the Marquee tool to see this option). Drag a circle around your subject, right-click and select Refine Edge. Set Feather to 300 pixels and click OK . Use Cmd/Ctrl+ Shift+ I to invert the selection, pick the Paint Bucket tool (G) with black as the foreground colour (D) and click in the selection. Reduce the layer opacity to 30%.