Back in 2009, we posted a tutorial on creating a ‘slow shutter’ effect in Photoshop. This tutorial still brings in around 7000+ unique site visits every month and is a perfect example of how a blog can really generate traffic for your site.
Creating a blog post on a subject that utilises your knowledge and skills within your industry can mean as little time investment as an afternoon, yet that resource can be shared across the internet any number of times. If you have any questions or would like advice on how to get the most out of your content, please get in touch.
Now for the tutorial…
Firstly you need to create a new document at whatever size you wish to work at. As with most artwork it is always a good idea to create the original piece at the largest size that it will be needed as it can always be reduced down, but enlarging the image once its finished is not going to work out too well. If you are planning on using this as a desktop background then make it as large as your screen resolution.
Unless you are going to print the final piece then set your colour mode to RGB as it gives you a broader range of colours to work with. If you are printing, then use CMYK. We also like to work using 16bit colour or above, as it makes your gradients look much smoother.
Once your workspace is setup you will need to apply a base gradient (see steps 1. + 2. below) Select the gradient tool by holding the mouse button down on the fill tool, then double click the gradient just below the menu bar. You now have the opportunity to create a custom gradient. Experiment by adding in different colours (click just below gradient bar & click color to change it) and moving them around (drag colour pointer left and right)
Once you are happy with the graident click OK and drag your gradient line out over your canvas. We want our gradient to be horizontally even across the canvas, so hold Shift while dragging the cursor in a vertical line upwards. If you are not happy with the gradient you can always click ‘undo’ and adjust the gradient and try again.
Now we have our canvas set with a background gradient it is time to create our text. The ‘slow shutter’ effect that we are looking to replicate can be applied to any pattern, but we are trying to apply it to text. The text needs to be created as paths using the pen tool as opposed to the text tool. Creating it this way will also give it a more ‘freestyle / hand-drawn’ feel which is important. Create a new layer, select the pen tool (1.) and create your text as one long path as shown below.
Now you need to stroke your line with a fine white brush. Select the brush tool and set the size to 2px (1.) Now click the paths tab in the layers menu and then click the Brush button (2.) This will stroke your line with white which represents the lights source and its brightest part.
To create a realistic outer glow don’t use the default settings! Right click on your new layer and select blending options, then select the outer glow option which will give you the menu shown in the diagram (1.) Now adjust the settings so they match the ones in the diagram. If your using a different overall colour then select once close to it, I have used a slightly lighter green than the background.
You now have a decent glowing path. The next part of the tutorial explains how to customize the whole image and make it unique so don’t feel limited by what you do next, it’s all about experimenting! There are lots of uses for this effect such as simulating moving lights in photo’s, creating cool masked animated light in flash, or just creating illustrations. We are creating a static wallpaper so if your ready, lets continue…
Firstly, we are going to enhance the background layer with some more simulated light. Do this by selecting a nice complementary colour in it’s brightest shade (1.) and a big 300px brush. The rest is up to you, but I recommend working on a fresh layer as this gives you the flexibility to build up a few colours. It also helps if you don’t like how its going, a bigger brush sometimes helps.
Once you are happy with the background you will probably want to add some depth to the text path. The best way to achieve this is by copying your original linework. Do this by dragging the glowing line layer onto the new layer button in the layers menu twice (1.) This may look like too much at first but the next stage will really improve the image.
Go to the menu and click Filter > Blur > Guassian Blur and apply about a strength 5 blur. With this layer selected slightly rotate it using Cmd + T and you may want to distort it by holding Cmd and dragging a corner when the transform handles appear.
To add a really dynamic moving effect get your second duplicated layer and apply a radial blur to it. Do this by going to the menu and clicking Filter > Blur > Radial blur. Playing with different strengths will help you get the look thats right for your image. Its fairly strong on our piece hence the very opaque look. Less strength will create a more ‘vibrational‘ effect.
Finally we have added a few ways of making your artwork even more distinctive. The possibilities are endless but here’s what we’ve done.
Another new glowing text layer with a red glow has been added to bring in some contrast. In order to stop it overriding the main text I have used the eraser on the line crossovers.
To bring out the line connections I have used the dodge tool on a 50% strength. This can be found by holding down the mouse button on the 14th tool on the toolbar. Set it up like you would a brush and get creative. It sometimes works best if you flatten the entire image before you get started.
Finally, to add some adjustable contrast to the image I flattened the whole thing and copied it to another layer (like I did earlier with the path itself). Selecting the ‘Overlay’ blending mode and adjusting it’s opacity will give you a ‘deeper’ image.
The key to this effect is experimentation with the multiple layers and blending modes.