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Are you a photoshop guru? Writing tutorials can be quite a challenge, and is always on the lookout for talented photoshoppers

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Download 30 sets of free Social Bookmarking Icons

Posted by Joe on Monday, December 15th, 2008

This free icon sets collection contains all most all popular social media icons like, Digg, Mixx, DesignBump, StumbleUpon, Reddit, Developer Zone, DesignFloat, Technorati, Twitter and RSS feed. The icons which you see below are some real creative and most beautiful, ranging from web 2.0 to hand drawn designs. Although initially intended to be used […]

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Drawing an Abstract Lightbulb

Posted by Joe on Monday, March 23rd, 2009


Hello again, in this tutorial I want to cover a couple of techniques, namely

  • Glows using layer styles
  • Stroking paths
  • Particles using brush dynamics
  • Bokeh effect

The PSD and full size image can be found at the bottom of this post and we’re going to draw a lightbulb:


Step 1:

Create a new document, 1600×1200 and fill the 1st layer in black.   Then set your primary colour to white and set your brush hardness to 0% and a size of 30. Create a 2nd layer and then use the pen tool to draw the coils of the lightbulb.  Once finished, right mouse on the path and select stroke path and make sure simulate pressure is ticked.


Step 2:

Add inner and outer glows to the resulting line to produce a suitable glow effect.  I used an outer glow size of 27 with a mid orange and an inner glow size of 5 with a slightly lighter orange.  Next, click on the paths tab to reselect your coils path, change your brush size to 7 and set it to 25% hardness, create a new layer and stroke the path again, and again add inner and outer glow layer styles.  Finally move each smaller coil a few pixels so that they’re not directly overlayed on top of each other.  (Repeat this process twice to achieve the effect below)


Step 3:

Next we’re going to create the particles around the coils.  Click on your brush tool and enter Brush Dynamics.  Set hardness to 0%, spacing to 1000%, tick shape dynamics and set size jitter to 1000%, tick scattering and set scatter jitter to 1000% percent


Create a new layer, then with these brush settings, paint around your coils.  Once finished, copy the layer style from one of the coils and paste it onto this layer. Next customize the layer style so that it resembles something like this:


Step 4:

Use the techniques demonstrated in steps 1 and 2 to draw the edges of the lightbulb in  new layers.  Set their opacity to 10% so that the focus remains the coils


Step 5:

Now we’re going to add some colour to the interior of the lightbulb. Click on the gradient tool, then edit the gradient so that it goes from a strong colour ( e.g. bright green) to 0% opacity.  Then in a new layer create a radial gradient near the top of the image.  Then, draw another radial gradiant using a different colour (e.g. bright blue to 0% opacity).  Finally add a layer mask to this layer and paint out all parts of this layer that fill beyond the extremities of the lightbulb.  Finally set this layer to 25% opacity.


Step 6:

Create a new layer and repeat step 5 again with 3 radial gradients, using a mid green at the top and 2 orange/red gradients at the bottom. Next add a layer mask, set your foreground and background colour to white and black respectively and then use the render clouds filter to simulate a smoke effect.  Go to image> adjustments> brightness & contrast and up the contrast of the layer mask by 100%.  Finally set this layer style to color dodge.


Step 7:

Next we’re going to add a bokeh effect.  Bokeh is a term used to describe light sources out of focus, think blurry circles.  An example of what bokeh is can be found here.  Hopefully you’ve retained the brush settings from the particles in Step 3.  All you need to do now is change them slightly, so set the brush size now to 75 and set hardness to 100%.  Create a new layer, set the brush colour to a mid/light orange and then proceed to draw over your image.  These circles still look a bit too defined, so then use a gaussian blur filter with a radius of around 5%.  Finally set the opacity of this layer to around 9%.


Step 8:

The final touches involve creating a new layer and using a standard brush to paint over the coils with a dark purple colour, then setting this layer to color dodge, and this enhances the glow effect of the coils.  I also added some text along the path of the edge of the lightbulb.


And that’s pretty much it.  I hope you enjoyed this tutorial and found it useful.

Final Image

PSD File (the psd file here is at 1024×768 resolution to save on bandwidth)

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113 Responses to “Drawing an Abstract Lightbulb”

  1. Ipswich Electrical Contractors Says:

    Amazing tutorial, thank you so much for the help.

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  10. Threeyzmonkeys Says:

    This is an incredible tutorial. Thanks for taking the time to make it. I had a go here:

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  13. Arian Says:

    Hey, I really like the result of this tutorial, but I followed it word for word and cannot get any where near what it’s supposed to be. I have CS6. When I do this tut, my white pen path doesn’t go away and the setting on the inner and outer glow don’t even show up unless I make them much larger than the tutorial says. The document size and everything are exactly what they should be. Also, in one of the first paragraphs it says to adjust the brush even though we are using the pen tool? I didn’t understand that and it didn’t do anything because when I adjusted it, then I had to switch to the pen tool. I’m just so lost. Please help me, I feel really stupid because everyone on here says this tutorial is very easy.

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