Speedlines are a graphic way to indicate motion. They're used a lot in Japanese comics, but they're starting to enter the visual vocabulary of comics everywhere.
Speedlines look great, the only problem is rendering all those lines can take a lot of time. Here's a great technique for making them quickly in Photoshop.
Create a new document [ctrl N] with the above settings. Note that the width is only 1 pixel, while the height is 10 inches. This is going to create a strange looking document, since it will only be a narrow strip.
Next, use the filter "Add Noise" located in [filter>noise>add noise...]. I used a setting of 90, but the higher you set it the more lines you'll get. Set it lower for fewer lines. I used a Distribution method of Gaussian, though on such a narrow document you can use Uniform as well. Important: be sure that the Monochromatic box is checked, otherwise you'll get multicolored speedlines!
This is what my Add Noise filter window looks like. Hit OK.
Now, Blur the entire canvas using Gaussian Blur, located in [filter>blur>gaussian blur...].
I use a setting of 3 pixels for a 400DPI document. Again, you can experiment with different values to get softer lines.
My Gaussian Blur filter settings looks like this. Now I can stretch my 1-pixel canvas out. To do this, call up the Image Size window [image>image size...]. It should look similar to this:
Change the width to 10 inches and uncheck the "Constrain Proportions" box. This will cause Photoshop to stretch your canvas out, extending your single-pixel noise dots into lines! Your image should now look something like this:
Those gray lines are a bit subtle, so to give them some contrast I use Levels function [ctrl L]. I bring the black and white triangles in, playing around with the gray point until I find some a result I like. Hit OK and you're done.
These speedlines can now be cut and pasted into any background. You can adjust their colors, contrast or even distort them for an effective and quick effect.
If you need the speedlines to not be anti-aliased, make sure to use the Threshold command located at
[image>adjustments>threshold...]. This will allow you to interactively remove grayscale information while choosing the strength of the line!
Was this article helpful?