Tutorials and other musings on the subject of Design

Create Simple Fireworks in Photoshop

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Whenever a holiday comes around I always like to do a tutorial that is relevant to that particular holiday. And with the Fourth of July upon us, I thought I would show you one method for creating fireworks. Now there are dozens of ways to create fireworks in Photoshop. Some are very elaborate and will leave you with a photorealistic firework and some are simpler and are primarily for graphic elements. Now, being that I am a graphic designer, I prefer the simpler graphic element path.

The following technique I learned about a year ago from David Leggett over at (great website and resource by the way).  I loved this technique and decided that I wanted to share it with my viewers here. Hope you enjoy.

Step 1: Open Photoshop and create a new document. Fill your files background with the color of your choice, but you should choose a color that is sort of dark. I will be using hex #1a1327.

Step 2: For this step we are now going to be using Photoshop’s stroke path option. Create a new layer and select the Pen Tool and select the “Paths” option.

Step 3: Now with your new layer selected, click with the pen tool somewhere near the center of your canvas. This will create a point with the pen tool. Next move your mouse up and to the right of your first point and click again but this time hold down the mouse button and drag down towards the bottom right of your page. This will create an arched path with your pen tool.

Step 4: Select your brush tool and set your foreground color to white (#ffffff). Set your brush to 3px. Now open Photoshop’s Brushes Palette and under “Shape Dynamics,” set it to fade around 350px (Note: you may need to play with this setting to get the exact look you are going for.

Step 5: Now you will want to stroke your path. First right click (Mac: option click) your canvas and select “Stroke Path.” Be sure “Brush” is selected. This will now tell Photoshop to add a brush stroke to the path you just drew with the pen tool.

Step 6: Repeat this process several more times until you have the number of streaks you want coming from your fireworks. (Note: Always make sure you have your path starting from the outside going in. The fade will start from the first path point)

Step 7: Now we are going to add some blend options to really make these fireworks…um…”pop.” Follow the screen shots for the settings, but I encourage you to test the settings to really see what looks good for you.

Step 8: Now create a new layer and place it underneath the streaks you have created. Select your brush tool and a default round brush (you should make sure your shape dynamics “fade” option is no longer set). Set your brush hardness to 0% and put your size somewhere around 200px. Set your foreground color to white. Now click once in your new layer around the middle of the streaks. Now set that new layer to “overlay.”

Step 9: Create a new layer above the streaks layer. With your brush selected reduce the brush size to around 50px and the brush hardness to 5% or slightly above, create a small circle at the center of the streaks. Set this blend mode to overlay. Repeat this process 3-4 more times.

Step 10: Now we are going to create the sparks. Once again, select your brush tool. Follow the screen shots below for the settings.

Now that we have the brush set up, create a new layer at the very top of your layer stack and brush in some of the sparks for your firework. Focus most of your sparks towards the center.

And there you have it. A nice and clean fireworks graphic you can use for any number of design layouts. And you can also play with the color balance to get different color fireworks. Just add the color balance layer and mask out only the firework you want in that specific color.

Hope you have enjoyed this tutorial.

Jon Pianki

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