Glows

Glows are probably the most commonly requested effect in comics, so where better to start? They're also easy to do and pretty cool looking.

Glows should be handled almost last in your coloring. The reason for this is simple: glows go over just about everything, including your background, your characters and even your linework.

In real life, glows are an optical effect caused by bright lights. They come in all sorts of varieties and shapes such as circles, halos or lens flares. They can leave afterimages like when a speeding taillight is filmed, or prismatically fracture, creating rainbow slivers. The types of glows you can render are almost limitless, so let your imagination go wild.

To start with, let's render a simple glow. This background could use a few.

-'j background.tif ® 100% (RGB)

Lift

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Create a new layer and title it "Glows". Change this layer's blending mode to "Screen". It should look similar to this:

Next, select your airbrush. Change its mode to "Screen" as well. Now select the color you want your glow to be. Gently airbrush your glow on the new layer. Because your airbrush is set to screen, it's going to have a controlled dodge effect. Don't be afraid to use a large brush to get a smooth glow.

These glows look pretty good. If you're satisfied with them, you can flatten the image. Simple! If they're a little strong, you can adjust the Glow Layer's opacity. Want them to be more intense? You can duplicate the layer by dragging it down to the "New Layer" button on the floating layers palette. For my glows I want to add a little more. Using the lasso tool, I carefully select some highlights.

The final result. In just a few seconds I rendered a really nice effect that adds a lot of interest to the piece. Be careful of overdoing it though. If you use too many glows it can water the effect down.

Glows work best on dark backgrounds. Obviously, glows are much more powerful when there's a lot of contrast, but the "Screen" blending mode also has more opportunity to introduce new bands of color in the grad, which makes the effect more powerful. If you try this effect on a light image it won't look nearly as impressive.

This glow only used a single light blue color. Experiment with 2 or more colors, applied sequentiually on top of one another for and an even more varied look. You can apply the color "live" to the same layer, or create new layers for each of them, giving some of the intermediate layers different blending modes.

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