Thursday, October 30, 2008

Easily Create a Unique Website Header

What We’re Making

This is a technique that I’ve recently used on personal projects of my own, and have impressed a lot of people with. It only made sense to me to share how to accomplish this look with our loyal viewers here at Tutorial9! Here’s a quick look at the effect we’re going to make in this tutorial:

Example of the Abstract Lighting Technique

Step 1: Setting Up

Create a new document in Photoshop, and use the Paint Bucket Tool to fill the Background layer with a dark color. In my document, I used #191919 — Something dark, but not completely black.

Background Color: #191919

Step 2: Adding Some Light

This effect is ALL about experimenting with color, placement, and size. To create the unique lighting effect, we are going to use a Large, Soft Brush Tool. Select a standard round brush from the options bar or brushes palette, and increase the brush size to around 400px, and the Hardness to 0%.

Now select a bright, vibrant Foreground Color. For my first color, I’ll be using a nice sky blue, #61a6f4. Create a new Layer, and create a splash of color somewhere along the top edge of your banner. Set this layers blending mode to Linear Dodge (This will let it mix with other colors we use later on a bit nicer than the Normal Blending Mode).

Experiment with the Blending Modes of your layers

Step 3: Additional Colors and Blending Modes

We’re going to introduce a few new colors into the fray to make things a little more interesting. One important thing to note here is that each new brush and color you use should be painted on separate layers. Doing so will really make it easy to experiment with blending modes and positioning later on!

Let’s throw a new color onto a new layer. I’m going to be using a bright, pale orange, like #fbb85a. I’m also going to adjust the size of my brush to something a bit smaller, like 300px. After painting, I’m going to change the blending mode for this layer to Overlay.

Add new colors to for your effect

To brighten this area up a bit, I’m going to create a New Layer, and use a soft, White brush with the blending mode set to Overlay directly above the Orange I just created in the document.

Use White, Overlay layers to brighten areas up

Continue to add new colors using varying brush sizes, and different blending modes. After about 5 more layers, using Overlay, Lighten, Linear Dodge, & Hard Light with the 3 colors I’ve used, here is what I’ve got:

Step 4: Adding an Awesome Lens Flare

This is probably the most difficult part of the effect, but only because it requires a little creativity on the designers part. Like I mentioned earlier, I’m really not a fan of the Lens Flare Filter Photoshop has to offer — Which is why we are going to create our own, simpler flare.

How to create a custom Lens Flare

On a new Layer, using the same colors we’ve been using so far (Only this time, with the blending mode set to Normal), use your creativity to put together a flare effect of your own. It’s really a lot easier than it sounds. Establish a direction for your flare in your mind, and then create a series of blotches that follow that direction. To make things easier, you can follow the stages I took in the diagram to create something similar to what I have.

Remember, this is all on the same layer to make things simpler for us. You’ll need to plan what order you paint your colors in though so they overlap correctly.

Here is our finished flare above our other layers:

The Finished Flare

Step 5: Blending the Flare

It’s obvious that the flare in it’s current state simply won’t do. Don’t worry, it’s an easy fix. Remember all those layers you created earlier with different blending modes? All you have to do is position your flare underneath some of those layers (You’ll have to experiment to see what looks best), and the blending modes will mix the colors and hopefully look very nice!

The finished effect

It’s just that Simple!

That’s really all there is to the effect. Not a bad look for something so easy to make.

If you want my opinion, I think this effect is a great touch for a minimalist layout that uses dark colors, as it’s soft, and not very distracting. Text can easily be read over the lighting (provided it’s not to bright or dark where you place your text).

For reference, you’re welcome to grab the PSD File we used in this tutorial!

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