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Lightning Animation in Photoshop CS6
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Posted on July 22nd, 2013
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Adobe Photoshop

This Photoshop CS6 tutorial will guide you through some basicanimation techniques while showing you how to create a realisticlightning bolt from scratch. The technique described below uses frameanimation, layer styles, and an awesome freeware tool that is availablefor everyone on the Internet.

Tutorial Assets

The following assets were used during the production of this tutorial. Please download them before you begin.

  1. The background image with sailing ship: link
  2. The freeware tool for lightning bolt generation: link

Step 1: Document setup

Let’s get started by opening the base of our image with the background I prepared for you.

Step 2: Creating the Lightning

Open the DP-Animator: Lightning program and set the following parameters on the left:

  • On the Basic properties tab, toggle the dice icon and set the seedparameter to 10. (Actually you can set any number, but for this tutorialI choose this shape.)
  • On the color properties tab, set the Glow size to 0, since we will apply the glow effect in Photoshop later.

You should get the following shape:

Step 3: Export Lightning Animation

Click File > Export Animation... and select the "Save as Sequenceof PNG Images". In the next dialog set the output folder and file nameand set the following parameters: Sample duration = 40, Number ofsamples = 4.

Step 4: Import Lightning Animation into Document

In Photoshop, click File > Scripts > Load Files into Stack... and add all PNG frames hat you create in the previous step.

Click OK and wait until all layers are loaded, then select all layersin the new document and drag and drop them into the document youcreated in the Step 1.

Step 5: Add Lightning into Document

Select all lightning layers in the layers window and group them bypressing Ctrl+G. Then move them into the top left corner as shown on thescreenshot.

Step 6: Glow

Select Group 1 in the layer window and open the Layer Style dialog.Add Outer glow and set Opacity = 89, Color = White, Size = 21.

Step 7: Creating frame Animation

Finally we are ready to create animation from the prepared assets.Activate the timeline tool by Clicking Windows > Timeline. In thebottom dialog click Create Frame animation. The first frame of ouranimation will be automatically created. Set timing to 0.1 sec. Hide alllightning layers except the first one.

Click the “Duplicate selected frame” button, hide the first lightinglayer and show the next one. Repeat these actions for each lightinglayer. For the last lightning frame, set frame delay to 0.2 sec.Finally, add the last frame with delay of 1 sec and all lightning frameshidden.

Step 8: Save the Result

TTo save your animation, click File > Save for Web..., select GIFformat and set output file size and format settings. Click Save... tofinish this tutorial.

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