Which will you choose, the dark side or the light side? With this quick Photoshop tutorial you can choose either. We'll show you how to take a photo of someone mid-pose with a toy lightsaber, and then learn how to add the perfect glow effect with the Brush tool and a few layers and ﬁlters.
It’s not just the weapon that we’re going to recreate here though; we need to think about how that light will react with the rest of the scene. Having an idea of how the the light will contour the lightsaber holder’s face and hands is important. We’d recommend holding a light in your hands while looking in the mirror, so that you can see where the light falls. With some simple planning, you can create a weapon ﬁt for the likes of Rey or Obi-Wan.
1. Paint the lightsaber
In Photoshop, make a new layer (Cmd/Ctrl + Shift + N). Select the Brush (B), go to Window>Brush and make Spacing 1% for a solid line when you paint. Choose a white foreground colour. Click the base of the handle, hold Shift and click the end of the ’saber. Use a mask to remove the glow on the handle.
2. 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 it) to the top of the Layers palette.
3. Choose your side
Click the top glow layer, hold Shift, click the bottom one, then press Cmd/Ctrl+G. With the Group selected, add a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer, tick Colorize, lower Lightness and boost Saturation. With your cursor halfway between this layer and the Group, hold Alt and click. Remember, red's for the Dark side, blue, green or purple for the Light side!
4. Light the face
Make a new layer and choose the Brush tool. Set the glow colour, right-click on the image and set the brush Hardness to 20%. Set Soft Light blending mode, then paint in the glow. Mask out bits that spill onto the scenery. Blur the light with Filter>Blur>Guassian Blur at 30 pixels.
5. Sharpen it up
To get that gritty, cinematic look, we’re going to use the High Pass ﬁ lter to accentuate the edges in the shot. Use Cmd/Ctrl+Shift+N for a new layer, then Cmd/ Ctrl+Alt+Shift+E to merge the visible layers. Finally go to Filter>Other>High pass and choose about 80 pixels.
6. Tweak the colours
One ﬁnal suggested adjustment is to 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 yellow and red).