Creating sparkles and comets

Fading lines may strike you as pretty ho-hum, but they enable you to create some no-brainer, cool-mandoo effects, especially when combined with the Shift key techniques discussed earlier, in the "Painting a straight line" section.

Figures 5-29 and 5-30 demonstrate two of the most obvious uses for fading straight lines: creating sparkles and comets. The top image in Figure 5-29 features two sets of sparkles, each made up of 16 straight lines emanating from the sparkle's center. I created these lines by setting the Opacity slider on the Options bar to 100 percent and then selecting Fade from the Opacity pop-up menu in the Brush Dynamics palette. For the smaller sparkle on the right, I set the Fade value to 60 and drew each of the four perpendicular lines with the paintbrush tool. I changed the value to 36 before drawing the four 45-degree diagonal lines. The eight very short lines that occur between the perpendicular and diagonal lines were drawn with a Fade value of 20, and I created the larger sparkle on the left by periodically adjusting the Fade value, this time from 90 to 60 to 42.

Custom Lens Flare Tool
Figure 5-29: I drew the sparkles in the top image using the paintbrush tool. The second image features a reflection applied with the Lens Flare filter (upper-left corner) and two dabs of a custom brush shape (right edge of the bumper).

For comparison's sake, I used different techniques to add a few more sparkles to the bottom image in Figure 5-29. To achieve the reflection in the upper-left corner of the image, I chose Filter ^ Render ^ Lens Flare and selected 50-300mm Zoom from the Lens Type options. (Lens Flare works exclusively in the RGB mode, so I had to switch to RGB to apply the filter, even though Figure 5-29 is a grayscale image.)

I created the two tiny sparkles on the right edge of the bumper using a custom brush shape. I merely selected the custom brush, set the foreground color to white, and clicked once with the paintbrush tool in each location. So many sparkles make for a tremendously shiny image.

In Figure 5-30 — a nostalgic tribute to the days when gas was cheap and the whole family would pile in the Plymouth for a Sunday drive through space — I copied the car and pasted it on top of a NASA photograph of Jupiter. I then went nuts clicking and Shift-clicking with the paintbrush tool to create the comets — well, if you must know, they're actually cosmic rays — you see shooting through and around the car. It's so real, you can practically hear the in-dash servo unit warning, "Duck and cover!"

Figure 5-30: To create the threatening cosmic rays, I set the Fade value to 110 and then clicked and Shift-clicked on opposite sides of the image with the paintbrush tool.

After masking portions of the image (a process described at length in Chapter 9), I drew rays behind the car and even one ray that shoots up through the car and out the spare tire. The three bright lights in the image — above the left fin, above the roof, and next to the right-turn signal — are more products of the Lens Flare filter in the RGB mode.

Note I drew all the fading lines in Figures 5 29 and 5 30 with the paintbrush tool, using a variety of default brush shapes. Because I didn't edit any brush shape, the Spacing value for all lines was a constant 25 percent.

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