I have received many requests over the years for a post on how I add things like lasers, fire, explosions, and other effects to my Minimate photos. I decided it was time to start creating tutorials on this subject. In this first entry, I will show you how to add Cyclop’s optic blast effect to his visor. This tutorial uses Adobe Photoshop. If you don’t have Photoshop, there is a free trial (as of this writing) available here.
The image below will be our base file. You can download the full size version here.
Open this file up in Photoshop. Our first step is to make a fence around the area of his optic blast. Using the image below as a guide, pick the fence tool on the left toolbar, and then give it a 3 pixel feather at the top menu.
Now, use this tool to draw the shape of Cyclops’ optic blast, point by point. I find it easier to start at the top of the screen, work my way around his visor, and end up at the top of the screen again. It is ok for your shape to go outside the boundary of the image. Finish your shape by clicking the point you started at. When you are finished, your shape should look something like this:
In Photoshop, you can add multiple layers to an image. We want this blast to be on a separate layer, so that we can add effects to it. Go to the layers panel in the lower right side. If you don’t see it, go to View -> Layers at the top menu. Create a new layer by clicking the button at the bottom of the panel as shown below. Optionally you can rename this layer by right clicking it. I named mine Blast.
Next you will need to pick a nice red fill color. I have circled the spot you need to click in the image below. By default this fill color will be black or white – use the color selector to pick something more lasery. Next, pick the paint bucket tool and click inside the fence that you created.
You can hit Ctrl-D (or apple-D on a Mac) to deselect that area. Now you could stop here, but stick with me, and we will make this optic blast look even cooler!
The easiest way to add effects to a layer is to use Blending Options. In here you can add a variety of glows, shadows, textures, and other cool effects. Right click on your Blast layer in the layers panel and click on Blending Options.
The image below looks complicated, but it isn’t too bad. On the left side of your Blending Options panel, click on Inner Glow. Set it up using the same attributes as the image below. I also included the color selection screen that showed the exact shade I picked.
Here is a shot of this effect on the image next to the panel, so you can check to see if yours looks the same:
We just added an inner glow to the blast, but now we need to add an outer glow. Open the Blending Options panel again, and this time choose Outer Glow from the left menu. Set it up like I have it in the image below.
Your image should now look something like this:
Once again, you could stop here, and it would still look great, but I am going to show you how to add one more effect. Anytime I want to show light reflecting off something, I do it with an overlay layer. Create a new layer in the layers panel, and change the blend mode at the top of the panel to Overlay.
Pick that nice vibrant red color again. Select the paintbrush tool. Right click anywhere on the art board and change the size and hardness of your brush to what I have in the image below. Now, anywhere you click and draw on this image, it will give it the effect of reflected light. In this particular image, it really only makes sense to have it reflecting around Cyclops’ metal visor. So paint around the edge of the blast as I have done in the image below.
Now let’s take a look at the final version:
Try playing around with these same settings on other images! You could follow these same steps to make a repulsor blast for Iron Man – you would just have to change the colors and play around with some of the numbers in the settings. Try using an overlay layer to make a character’s eyes glow, or Tony’s arc reactor glow, or even give a nasty green glow to a radioactive item. You can also try playing around with the other settings in the blending options / layer style screens. Have fun and let me know if you have any questions.
I will start working on a 2nd entry in this series sometime soon, which will use a new image and new effects. 🙂