Skip to main content

Flare Effects

Lesson 2 from: Special Effects for Composite Photography

Corey Barker

buy this class


Sale Ends Soon!

starting under


Unlock this classplus 2200+ more >

Lesson Info

2. Flare Effects

Next Lesson: Bokeh Effects

Lesson Info

Flare Effects

Generating a flare brush. Now, when I'm using, as a finishing effect, I liked using flares, but I found it frustrating to open up an image, like I've got, like a flare like this one. This is like the one I used yesterday. Take one like this and you have to open it up and then pull it into an image and then put it in the screen mode and it will blend to your image just fine, however, it is what it is. You can move it around and stuff like that, but you can't really change the color or anything like that. You have to do that process every time you bring it in. Every time you want to use it. And then I thought, well what if I just made it a brush? I could use a brush anytime. It's saved into photo shop, it's permanently there whenever I need it. So I wanna show you how you can quickly and easily show you how to create your own brush. And once you know how to create the flare brush, you can go and just pull flares from anywhere. These I actually got from Adobe Stock, they've got a large li...

brary of static flare images and you can go in there and make a whole library of brushes. In fact, as part of this class, I'm gonna include my flare brush set as part of the downloads for this class. (class cheers lightly) But I encourage you to make your own. Otherwise, what I'm about to show you is pointless. (grunts) no, no. Alright, so I'm going to take this other flare, I'm gonna use a different one than I did from yesterday. This is a nice, really long, anamorphic flare. These are the kind I really like to make brushes out of. So here it is on a black background. More than likely, you're gonna find flares on a black background. That's exactly what you want. Cause you wouldn't see it if it was on a white background. (laughs) but, actually I'm gonna go in here and check my size, now photo shop limits you to create a brush from an image at 5,000 pixels. This is exactly at 5,000, but I'm still gonna make it a little bit smaller. Drop it down to 4,000 wide. So, when I was deciding I wanted to make a brush out of this, I thought, well, it's going to lose the color and I do like the color effect on there. Well, we're gonna compensate for that later by adding a layer style. And you'll see that you can actually customize that to any color you want after you've created the brush. So the first thing is to remove the color information from the image. So I'm just gonna do a simple de-saturate by pressing Shift- Command- U. And that goes and removes color. Then, it's black background now with a white flare. The way photo shop defines brushes is it looks at the image. The darkest areas are gonna be the most opaque areas of your brush. Gray areas will have a degree of transparency and white is left transparent. So this is actually the reverse of what we want. Even though the flare looks right, defining it as a brush, we need to invert the image. So we're gonna simply press command or control- I. That inverts it. Now, next force the background to white. There might even be, even if it looks white, sometimes I've defined brushes that I assume the background is white because it leaves it transparent. It may have had a subtle shade of gray that's indistinguishable from white and when I go to define the brush, you'll actually see that light edge, that corner edge around the brush itself. So just to be certain, even if I think the background's white, I always go in here. I just force the white slider using levels in a little bit to be sure that that background is solid white, like that. And in this case, I don't see anymore of the edge of the brush going, or the flare, going to the edge of the document. And if it would, I would simply just take something like a small gradient and let's do a foreground to transparent gradient. Set my foreground to white and I would just come in here and give it a little bit of fade so it doesn't get cut off right on the edge there. So now we're ready to define the brush. So, as I said, you don't have to make a selection, it's gonna make all the white areas transparent automatically so just go down here and we're gonna choose 'Define Brush Preset' and you can give it a name but who has time for that? I'm bad at naming things, I really am. I have a whole bunch of brushes and layers and stuff like that and they're all called whatever the file name is. Cause it assumes the file name of the brush and all my brushes are names whatever their original file name was. (class laughs) But it still works; I'm a visual person so when I look in a library, I look at the icon I don't really look at the name. So now the brush is defined. So if I go and create, I'll just do it in the same document, create a new layer. And I'm gonna go ahead and create another blank layer on top of that and just put a black fill on this one just so we can see what we're doing. But on the new blank layer, I'm gonna go and select my brush tool and it should automatically select the brush once you've defined it. And, if I go in here and set this to normal, and white is my foreground color. If I just dab once, now I've got a flare ready to go. And you can just go completely crazy with it now. But, could I take a flare and save it into my libraries? And my libraries panel is of course, connected to my creative cloud account where it houses all my stock images and such like that. You can actually drag whatever work and layers you have into this libraries panel and pull them as you need them. The reason I like to do it as a brush is that you can size it. Right on the fly, as a brush and it's got automatically the transparency built in there. So there certainly is both ways you could do it. So if I just dab once and there's my flare. Now, getting back to the color aspect of it, I'm just gonna simply go in here and add an outer glow layer style. And let's just give it a color. And this is the beauty part of course. Depending on what type of image you're gonna be applying this to, you can cater the color of the glow, the flare to your image. So, in this case, let's set the I've discovered that hard light is the best blend mode for these flare colors. So, I'll just put it at that and you can see that there is the flare and every time I add a new flare, it's gonna pick up that layer style as long as I'm on that same layer. So even if it's a layer style, and I'm like well, I want it to be a cooler color, something like that. And, of course, it is on a transparent layer, you can move it around and you can reposition it anywhere you want. In fact, let me go ahead and open up and of course, I went a little flare crazy with this, so why not add one more? So I'm just gonna jump in here and take my brush and we'll just pew! Sound effects help, by the way. (class laughs) So yeah, if I just go ahead and just put a little flare there, and then just, once again, add a layer style to it. Go with red to match the scene there, there we go. So now that you have a flare, you can position. Put it off camera and you can get the JJ flare effect, as I call it. But now you have flare brush ready to go and it works on almost anything that you need that you have on a black background. For instance, here, I've got this as a design element that I found on Adobe Stock. And I really liked the lines and the design of it. Wasn't necessarily a fan of the color, and this is another thing I talked about with textures, and we'll get into textures in just a little while, is that I really liked the waves and everything like that and those patterns. But, like I said, didn't like the color. Same thing here, I'm gonna go ahead and remove the color and use levels to tighten up the contrast a little bit and now I've got the design element all set up. I'm not gonna make it a brush, but I just wanted to show you how you can extract this from the background and using a simple luminance-based selection. If you go in your channels pallette, which here is grouped with the layers panel. I'm gonna go ahead and pull it out. You can go in here and, as I said, make a luminance-based selection just by holding the command key down and then clicking right on the RGB thumbnail right there. Low is the brightness or the anything that is above 50% brightness is gonna get selected right there. And I'm not gonna extract or pull anything, but I am just gonna go ahead and create a new layer and simply fill that layer with white. And now I've got that element cleanly extracted. Let me fill the background with black, so there's my element now on a transparent background. Here you can do, just as we did with the flare effect, add a glow to it. Maybe if we're not that crazy with a glow, there we go. But you can take something like this and, since it's kind of like cut in half there, you can make a symmetrical design. So line those up there. So the point being, this technique is not just useful for defining a flare brush, but you can use it to pull elements off dark backgrounds and such like that and then just use them anywhere you want them to be. There it is on the transparent background. So it's a quick and easy way of extracting that. Yes? What would be the copyright if you used something and turned it into a brush? It's no different than the copyright of using a stock image, yeah. Okay. Yeah, I mean, if you buy the license to a stock image, you can do whatever you want with it. There's actually Creative Commons, I think, that you can use on certain things like I've gone on Flickr sometimes and as long as the Creative Common license is available to it, you can use images like that. There's in the search, you can actually go in there and say, do a search for images you can manipulate that's royalty free.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Special Effects for Composite Photography Bonus

Ratings and Reviews

Pat Saizan

Great short course. Love to see advanced photoshop classes like this. Cory is great and an excellent instructor.

Beth Krzes

i found this class to be very informative. the image and description were a bit misleading but I did enjoy the subjects covered. well worth the time. I think he went through the steps quickly, you do need a better than average understanding of layers and tools as he isn't always clear as to the "path" of how to do certain steps. I took notes, attempted the project and listened to the lesson again to reiterate the sections that my notes weren't too clear. also was more focused on watching the process vs just writing it down. would recommend this class to anyone who wants to step up their skils in PS.

Student Work