Light Streaks

In this tutorial, we’ll learn how to add light streaks to a photo in Photoshop. You have probably seen this effect already since it is really common. Creating the light streaks effect is very easy; you just need to know how to use the Pen Tool.

Light Streaks

To add light streaks to a photo, you’ll need:

  • Adobe Photoshop

Step 1

Open your image in Photoshop.

Light Streaks Original

We will create the lights streaks in a separate layer, so create a new layer by clicking on the New Layer option at the bottom of the layers palette.

Light Streaks New Layer

Now, select the Pen Tool and then choose the Paths option in the Options Bar.

Light Streaks Paths Option

Next, start drawing your first path for your first light streak. This is how my path looks like:

Light Streaks Path

Step 2

Now, select the Brush Tool and open the Brush panel by going to Window > Brush. Once the Brush panel opens, select the 40 Sampled Tip brush.

Light Streaks Brush

Then, change the brush’s spacing to about 1%.

Light Streaks Brush Spacing

Next, click on the words “Shape Dynamics” and select Pen Pressure for the Control option.

Light Streaks Brush Shape Dynamics

We will stroke our path with white color, so we will set white as the foreground color. To do so, press D to set the foreground and background colors to their defaults, and then press X to make white the foreground color.

Step 3

We are all set to create our first light streak, but first we will save our current path just in case. To do so, open the Paths palette, double-click on the Work Path and rename it to save it.

Light Streaks Save Path

To create the light streak, click on the small arrow at the top right corner of the Paths palette and select Stroke Path from the list that appears.

Light Streaks Stroke Path

Use the settings shown below.

Light Streaks Stroke Path Dialog Box

Light Streaks Stroke Path Result

Step 4

To make the light streak look like a real light streak, we will add some layer styles. To do so, double-click on the Layer 1 and use the settings shown below.

To select the color for the Outer Glow, I sampled the color of a light area of the woman’s skin. The size of the Outer Glow will depend on the size of your picture.

Light Streaks Outer Glow

Light Streaks Outer Glow Color

Light Streaks Outer Glow Result

For the color of the Inner Glow, I sampled a dark color of the woman’s skin. Again, the size of the Inner Glow will depend on the size of your picture.

Light Streaks Inner Glow

Light Streaks Inner Glow Color Picture

Light Streaks Inner Glow Result

Step 5

Let’s make our light streak a bit more interesting by adding some more streaks to it. To do so, hold the Cmd/Ctrl key, click on the path to select it and then make some minor adjustments to it. For instance, you can move the direction handles around to change the path’s curve or move an anchor point to a different spot. Just remember not to touch the starting and ending anchor points since we want the path to begin and end at the same place.

Light Streaks Edit Path

Now, stroke this path by clicking on the Stroke Path option at the bottom of the Paths palette. I used a smaller brush size this time.

Light Streaks Stroke Path Option

Light Streaks Stroke Result

You can create some more variations of the path and then stroke it with a different brush size if you want. Here’s my picture after a few more edits to the light streak.

Light Streaks Path Variations

Step 6

Our first light streak is finished! If you want to add another streak, you will first want to copy the layer style by going to Layer > Layer Style > Copy Layer Style. Then, create another blank layer and go to Layer > Layer Style > Paste Layer Style. You can now add a path and stroke it to create another light streak.

Light Streaks

And we’re done adding light streaks to our picture!