Deke’s Techniques: Creating a starburst in Photoshop

Published by | Tuesday, November 29th, 2011

This week, Deke builds further on his completely fabricated (but no less green) energy project, adding an altogether unnatural but otherwise sustainable starburst glow around a light bulb. If you followed last week’s free technique, Tracing an image with path outlines in Photoshop, you saw how to trace around the light bulb using a combination of vector-based shapes. Deke followed this up in last week’s exclusive Online Training Library® video (Turning path outlines into a vector mask) by adding a greenish glow around the bulb using the meticulous outline as a vector mask. This is the starting point for this week’s free technique:

Green glow made by turning path outlines into a vector mask

In this week’s free-to-all movie, Deke will take the whole glowing phenomenon one step further using two vector masks and a little-known feature in the Masks panel to create a custom starburst. You’ll start by using the Custom Shape tool to create a very pointy, skinny star shape, twice. Then you’ll use the Feather setting in the Masks panel to basically soften the edges of a very sharp outline. The resulting effect is by no means realistic, but it is an enlightening mix of constraint and dissipation:

Photoshop starburst made from two vector masks

For members of, Deke also has an exclusive video in the Online Training Library®, Drawing concentric glow rings, that shows you another approach that allows you to make an even more unbelievable starburst of concentric circles. While you may never convince anyone this unreal glow actually came from a light bulb, you’re bound to find creative ways to employ these compelling custom Photoshop starbursts in your own projects.

See you back next week with more Deke’s Techniques.

Interested in more?
• The entire Deke’s Techniques collection
• Courses by Deke McClelland in the Online Training Library®
• All courses on Photoshop in the Online Training Library®

Suggested courses to watch next:
• Photoshop CS5 One-on-One: Mastery
• Photoshop for Designers: Shape Layers
Photoshop Masking & Compositing: Fundamentals
Photoshop Masking & Compositing: Advanced Blending

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