Lightning Bolt in Photoshop

    ●   Visual Direction is an Important Concept in Advertising.

    ●   Use a lightning bolt to point the way toward something you want your viewers to look at.

Learn About:

Burn Tool Zoom Tool Merge Layers

   •    This tutorial is part of the Drive Me Wild project.

Other People's Work:

Here are examples of work inspired by this tutorial.


Step #1: Open Your Project in Photoshop ~

Open YOUR PROJECT in Photoshop …



… (Remember: all these tutorials are intended to be
applied to YOUR PROJECT) …

Step #2: Create a New Layer ~

Create a New Layer and name it lighting …

… select the Polygonal Lasso Tool .

… and drag a Lightning Bolt shape …

Your shape can be any variations you want. Just try it!

Step #2: Set your Color ~

Choose a color from your selection with the Eyedropper Tool

… OR - if you don't have a color pallette picked out, choose your own …

… and fill the selection by hitting: Alt (⌥)+Delete + or use the Paint Bucket

Step #3: Duplicate the Layer ~

Duplicate the Layer by dragging it to the icon.

Step #4: Re-select the Lightning Bolt ~

Re-select the shape by: Cmd (⌘) +Click ing the layer thumbnail.

Step #5: Change the Color ~

Now choose a darker color with the Eyedropper Tool

… and fill the new layer with the darker color by hitting Alt (⌥)+Delete: + again.

Step #6: Nudge the Image Slightly ~

Click the Move Tool or hit the keyboard shortcut letter (v) …

… nudge the shape a little.

Step #7: Burn Tool ~

Next, get the Burn Tool or hit the shortcut letter (O)

… swap the range from Shadows to Midtones to Highlights until you find something that works.

… and try turning off Protect Tones, too.

protect tones

Try a large grungy brush …

… also raise and lower the Exposure as needed …

… and burn burn burn! Burn around the edges to add the illusion of depth.

Do this all the way around.


Step #8: Layer Effects ~

Click at the bottom of the layers palette …

… and add Stroke.

Change the Stroke color to match.

Also add Bevel and Emboss

… and Drop Shadow too.

Step #9: Merge The Layers ~

Select both lightning layers by shift clicking them

… and hit Cmd (⌘) + E + or Right-Click > Merge Layers to merge them together.

Step #10: Stretch to Fit (Optional ) ~

Hit Cmd (⌘) + T + and stretch the image to help add a Z shape to your composition:

Step #11: Blending Modes (Optional ) ~

Move the Lightning Bolt Layer down behind your car but above the background layers …

… scroll through the Blending Modes and find one you like:













Try Multiply, Screen or Overlay or whatever you like best …



If you see other blending modes you like as you're scrolling down, don't be afraid to experiment.



Blending Modes are awesome!


Hint: You can scroll through the different Blending Modes by hitting Alt (⌥)+Shift+Plus:

Last Step: Save and Attach ~

Go to: File > Save as … and save the image as a .psd file - FIRST_NAME_LAST_NAME_PROJECT_NAME.psd


Attach it!

  •   ALWAYS save your projects like this:


  •   DO NOT name your project any other way - Improperly named projects will not receive credit and you will be sad.


  •   NEVER leave your work on the desktop or depend on a flash drive - instead, save your work in a folder you can find later - preferably on a virtual drive where it can be backed up.