example

Summary:

Northern Lights Background in Photoshop and Illustrator

    ●   This tutorial is intended to help facilitate the transition from Photoshop to Illustrator, getting students comfortable moving between the two programs and becoming familiar with their similarities.


Learn About:

Pen Tools in Photoshop and Illustrator Mesh Tool in Illustrator Loading Brushes in Photoshop Opacity and Transparency

  •   This tutorial is part of the CD Cover and We Can Be Heroes! Projects.

Other People's Work:


Here are examples of work inspired by this tutorial.

northern lightsnorthern lights examplenorthern-lights-example4.jpg

Step #1: Open a Blank Document in Adobe Photoshop ~

Open PhotoShop & create a new canvas. Hit the keyboard shortcut: Cmd(⌘)+N or go to: File > New

… and make your canvas 800 x 600 pixels.

8.5 by 11 inches


Step #2: Select the Pen Tool ~

Click the Pen Tool or hit the keyboard shortcut letter (p) …

pen tool

… and select Paths on the Menu Bar.

menu bar


Step #3: Foreground Color to Black ~

Set foreground color to black


Step #4: Mountains ~

Connect-the-Dots with the pen tool to make some mountain shapes …

… until the shape is closed.


Step #5: Fill the Selection ~

Right-Click somewhere in the mountain shape & hit Make Selection …

… hit New Selection and then OK.

Now the selection has the so called "marching ants."

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Fill the selection by hitting Alt (⌥)+Backspace or go to: Edit > Fill

fill mountains

Deselect the marching ants by hitting the keyboard shortcut: Cmd(⌘)+D.


Step #6: Blur ~

Now go to: Filter > Blur > Gausian Blur...

gaussian blur

Mountains are far away and far away things are usually blurry …


Step #7: Sky ~

Create new "sky" layer below the layer mountains layers.

Set foreground color to dark bluish-purple or whatever color floats-your-boat …

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… and the background color to a darker whatever …

backgorund color

Select the Gradient Tool which is behind the Paint Bucket

… select the colors you chose in the menu bar …

gradient edit

… select Linear Gradient, too …

linear-gradient-menu-bar.png

… and drag some gradient behind the mountains.

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Step #7: Stars … ~

Make a new layer between the sky and mountains called Stars…

new layer stars

… then go here: http://designm.ag/resources/photoshop-space-brushes/ and download star brushes or search Goggle for star brushes.

Click the Brush Tool or hit the keyboard shortcut letter (B) …

image

… click the Brush Preset Picker in the Menu Bar …

Click on the little image in the upper right and click on Load Brushes …

Find where your new brush downloaded, install it, and paint with it - Be creative! Try different Stuff!


Step #8: Save your Work in Photoshop ~

Go to: File > Save as … and save your .psd document somewhere you can find it.


Step #9: Open Illustrator ~

Then open YOUR CURRENT PROJECT in Adobe Illustrator and create a new background layer below all your other layers …

new layer background

… lock all your other layers …

…then go to: File > Place … and find the .psd file you just saved.

file-place-ai.jpg


Step #9: Embed the File ~

With the background selected, hit the Embed button so the Photoshop document is permanent "embedded" into Illustrator layers …

embed image

If you don't Embed the Photoshop image, it wont be there when you send it in!


Step #10: Pen Tool and Colors ~

Get the Pen Tool or hit the keyboard shortcut letter (p) …

pen tool

… unlike Photoshop, however, Illustrator has both Stroke and Fill colors.

Set your Fill color to black and Stroke color to none …

fill-black-no-stroke.png


Step #11: Make a Shape with the Pen Tool ~

Make another NEW LAYER above your background …

new-layer-top-ai.png

… and make a shape like this:

It doesn't have to be perfect. The curve can go outside file boundaries, if you'd like. Just do your best with the Pen Tool …

shapes


Step #12: Mesh Tool ~

With your closed shape completed, get the Mesh Tool

mesh tool

… click somewhere inside the shape with the Mesh Tool

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… now change the color …

… select new points and change them all along.

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Make a second row of colors if you want …

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Step #13: Peaks and Valleys ~

Get the Direct Selection Tool or hit the keyboard shortcut letter (a) …

direct selection tool

Raise and lower some of the mesh points to create peaks and valleys.

 

 

 

 

This is completely random and it’s up to you how many and how far.

 


Step #14: Envelope Distort ~

With your mesh object selected, go to: Object > Envelope Distort > Make with Warp. There are several ways to manipulate an object Envelope Distort, just look through the options and see which one you like best.

warp options flag


Step #15: Blur ~

Then go to: Effects > Blur > Gausian Blur and choose the amount of blur that looks good.


Step #16: Transparency and Position ~

Click Transparency or go to: Window > Transparency

… and change the Blending Mode until you get something you like.

Also, experiment with lowering the Transparency (if necessary …)

Lighten will hopefully cause any areas which are darker than what’s underneath to disappear, but pick any blending mode you wish …


Step #17: Feather ~

Lastly go to: Effect > Stylize > Feather and feather the selection as much as you want …


Last Step: Save Your Project & Attach ~

Go to: File > Save as … and save the file as YOUR NAME! so we know whose it is.

 

  •   ALWAYS save your projects using the following naming convention:
FIRST_NAME_LAST_NAME_PROJECT_NAME

  •   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.


Other Resources: http://vector.tutsplus.com/tutorials/illustration/make-an-aurora-borealis-design-in-illustrator/

http://www.eyesontutorials.com/articles/5294/1/Design-a-colorful-Northern-Lights-landscape/Page1.html

http://psd.tutsplus.com/tutorials/tutorials-effects/create-a-wavy-blackberry-style-wallpaper-design

http://vector.tutsplus.com/tutorials/effects/create-a-dazzling-aurora-borealis-screencast/