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Create a jump to lightspeed effect in Photoshop on Star Wars Day

Create a jump to lightspeed effect in Photoshop on Star Wars Day
(Image credit: Future)
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We’ve come a long way since Industrial Light & Magic changed visual effects forever, with its groundbreaking efforts in a galaxy far, far away. Today, powerful software makes it possible to create comparable effects from the comfort of your own home.

So, to celebrate Star Wars Day, we thought we’d show you how to recreate that famous jump to lightspeed effect from scratch. It’s the perfect tutorial to do with your kids, too! All you need is Adobe Photoshop CC (opens in new tab)(help from a wookie is optional). May the fourth be with you… 

• See more Make your own Lightsaber in Photoshop

01 Black background

(Image credit: Future)
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Begin by using the Paint Bucket tool to fill your entire background layer and make it black. With the background layer highlighted in the Layers panel hold Cmd+J/Ctrl+J to duplicate the layer. 

02 Make some noise

(Image credit: Future)
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Head to the top toolbar and select Filter<Noise<Add Noise. While in the Add Noise window, set your amount to around 40%, and ensure that both Gaussian and Monochromatic are checked.

03 Set the blur radius

(Image credit: Future)
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Now return to the top toolbar and select Filter<Blur<Gaussian Blur. We set our radius to 2.0 pixels, but feel free to experiment. 

04 Star light, star bright

(Image credit: Future)
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Open the Levels window via Image<Adjustments<Levels. You’ll need to drag the shadows, midtones and highlights until the stars begin to appear brighter. We found that our points sat roughly 75% to the left of the histogram.

05 Enlarge the stars

(Image credit: Future)
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Select Edit<Transform<Scale and use the Scale tool to enlarge your stars. We enlarged our image until the largest stars were about the size of a 20-pixel brush. 

06 Punch it!

(Image credit: Future)
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Now it's time to create the actual lightspeed effect. Select Filter<Blur<Radial Blur and set the Amount slider to 50. Set the Blur Method to Zoom and the Quality to Best. 

07 Levels

(Image credit: Future)
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Once the image has been processed, you’ll need to adjust the Levels again to make the stars more visible by dragging the points to the far left of the histogram.

08 Add some LUTs

(Image credit: Future)
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The final step is to add a couple of 3D LUTs. In the Layers panel, select the New Adjustment Layer icon and open the Color Lookup tab. Select Load 3D LUT and choose Crisp_Winter.look. Repeat this process via another adjustment layer and select TensionGreen.3DL. We set the latter at 11% opacity.

That’s all there is to it. You now have a cool-looking lightspeed effect that you can composite into other images. In the words of Han Solo himself: “Travelling through hyperspace ain’t like dusting crops,” but recreating it in Photoshop is a heck of a lot of fun! 

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How to get Adobe Photoshop CC

Adobe offers three subscription based Photography Plans which you can click on below. We recommend either the regular Photography Plan, or the Photography Plan (1TB), which costs more but comes with 1TB of online storage.

For this tutorial and for anyone who likes to work on a single main computer, we recommend the regular Creative Cloud Photography Plan (opens in new tab). This is the cheapest way to get started AND it comes with Lightroom and Lightroom Classic too.

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Mike Harris
Technique Editor

Mike is Technique Editor for N-Photo: The Nikon Magazine (opens in new tab), and brings with him over 10 years experience writing both freelance and for some of the biggest specialist publications. Prior to joining N-Photo Mike was the production editor for the content marketing team of Wex Photo Video, the UK’s largest online specialist photographic retailer, where he sharpened his skills in both the stills and videography spheres.  


While he’s an avid motorsport photographer, his skills extend to every genre of photography – making him one of Digital Camera World’s top tutors for techniques on cameras, lenses, tripods, filters and other imaging equipment, as well as sharing his expertise on shooting everything from portraits and landscapes to astracts and architecture to wildlife and, yes, fast things going around race tracks.