Create an Electrifying Light Guitar

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Utilizing blending modes in Adobe Photoshop is one of the essential skills for any designer.  They not only allow manipulation and blending of images, they also can lead to spectacular visual effects in a design.  In this tutorial, Pawel Kiec will take you though the steps of extracting an image, creating a background, and then making an electrifying glowing guitar that resembles pure neon light.

You’ll learn how to manipulate blending modes to achieve color and light, and you’ll also learn how to extract images with the pen tool, and even create flowing lines in Illustrator to compliment the Photoshop work.

This tutorial is for intermediate and beginner Photoshop users.  After the two larger and expansive tutorials, this one is shorter and will allow you to create a brilliant result in a shorter timeframe, and you’ll still learn valuable skills.

Tools Required:

  • Adobe Photoshop
  • Adobe Illustrator (Brushes or pen tool in Photoshop also work).

Here is a preview of the image we’re going to create. We’re going to use stock photos and lots of different tools and filters available in Photoshop to achieve this kind of an image. This tutorial is rather for intermediate users of Photoshop because in order to complete it with the same result you should already know how to adjust your image, add some glow to the elements etc. That’s actually rather basic, but you should already know how to play with them.
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Stock Photos

You’ll need a few stock photos in order to start. My current favorite place to get stock photos is CGTextures.com which offers lots of different textures (though some of them are of poor quality and other are noisy but for this tutorial it should be enough). They are free for personal and commercial use. Browse their library and download a guitar photo and different sparks photos. You will also need clouds photo later.

Step 1

First of all open up your Photoshop. My document’s dimensions are 1680 by 1050 pixels. Fill the background layer with black color.

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Step 2

Paste your guitar photo and use ‘Pen Tool’ to cut it out. In order to do it just create a path on the edges. Then go to ‘Paths’ tab and save your path with guitar outline. We’ll need it later. Right-click on your path with ‘Pen Tool’ still selected and click ‘Make Selection…’. Once you have your selection hit Ctrl/CMD + J to create a new layer with guitar on a transparent background.
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Step 3

Create a new layer. Set you ‘Brush Tool (B)’ to 2px radius and hardness to 0%. Select ‘Pen Tool’ again and go to ‘Paths’ tab. Load previously saved path with the guitar’s outline and right-click on a canvas. Choose ‘Stroke Path…’ and hit OK.

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Step 4

Now you’ll have to do the same with other guitar elements. I would recommend to create a separate path for each group of elements and then use ‘Stroke Path…’ on a different layers. I created like six or seven different paths (for outline, strings, wheels, smaller details etc.). Here’s how it looks afterward:
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Step 5

Once you’ve done all that open up Adobe Illustrator and create a curvy path. Create another one right next to the first like on the image below and use a ‘Blend Tool’ to make three more paths in between. Copy and paste your vector shape into the Photoshop. Hide the layer with it. We’ll use it later.
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Step 6

Now it’s time for the background. I use star field backgrounds often and they seem to work pretty well in most cases. I’ve already described how do I create nice star backgrounds twice. Both tutorials are available online so you can either read my tutorial on how to create spectacular space explosion or newer tutorial presenting how to create a vibrant abstract space artwork on CreativeFan. Both describe entire process in detail so there is no need to write about it third time.
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Step 7

I haven’t specified any colors or values so far so most likely your image doesn’t look quite good now. I’ve added over 20 adjustment layers in total so it would be hard to show them all here.

First of all grab your ‘Brush Tool (B)’ and paint some darker areas using black color (hardness: 0%, radius: 200px or so) on top and bottom of your image. Lower the opacity of this layer and change its blending mode to Multiply, Soft Light or Overlay (these will work with most dark layers). Lower the master and fill opacity if necessary. Create similar layers there where you want your image to be darker. You may also try to duplicate them to make effect stronger.

You should also create white layers there where you want your image to be brighter (usually in the middle of the image).

The next type of adjustment layers are layers with some color. For instance you may fill your layer with blue color and set it to ‘Color’, ‘Hue’ or ‘Linear Dodge (Add)’ blending mode (these are modes that I use most of the time for this type of layers). It will make your work colorful.

Lastly, you can go to ‘Layer -> New Adjustment Layer…’ and create a few new layers like ‘Brightness/Contrast’ or ‘Hue/Saturation’ to adjust everything else.
There’s really no good solution for all the images. Try to experiment yourself until you get something cool. It’s all about using brush and experimenting with different blending modes.
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Step 8

Now it’s time for some sparks. That’s easy step. Paste three or four different images of sparks into the Photoshop and scale each one to 10% (hit Ctrl/CMD + T). Change their blending modes to ‘Screen’ and their color to blue if necessary (by going to Hue/Saturation options). Move them on top of the guitar’s outline. Duplicate each one several times and place next to each other.
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Step 9

Once you get something like on the screenshot below try to adjust your image again like in the seventh step but this time add your adjustment layers only there where you’ve placed sparks (note that I moved adjustment layer from the seventh step on top of the layers from this step and I’ve added some glow to paths by going to layer styles).

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Step 10

That’s pretty much everything we need so it’s time for details and final touches. I’ve created some notes around the guitar. They can be created using ‘Custom Shape Tool (U)’. I smudged them a bit using ‘Smudge Tool (R)’ so they are not perfect now. They’ve got some scratches on them (that were painted using brushes) and inner glow applied.
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Step 11

Finally make your layer with paths from Illustrator visible and place it the way you want. I’ve moved it in the middle of the image, change its blending mode to ‘Color Dodge’ and then duplicated it several times to make the effect stronger. I also made a copy of it and rotated it by 90 degrees.
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Conclusion

At the end add some little details (mainly paths that are missing) and you should get something like on the final image. I’d recommend to adjust your image once more at this point (go back to the seventh step for a little while). I hope that it was helpful for you. Please, comment it below and let me know what do you think!

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