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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(opens in new tab)
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(opens in new tab)
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(opens in new tab)
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(opens in new tab)
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(opens in new tab)
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!(opens in new tab)
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(opens in new tab)
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(opens in new tab)
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!(opens in new tab)
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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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