Create Simple, Yet Elegant Abstract Spectrum Lines in Photoshop

In this tutorial, I will show you the method I use to design a simple, yet elegant abstract spectrum lines in Photoshop. You will see how easy it is to achieve this nice effect and you can use it a wide range of occasions including perhaps site header backgrounds, logos, or add extra flavor to your photo manipulations.

This tutorial is suitable for beginners and I included the ways of creating new brush presets and also the use of Pen Tool. You will ample opportunities to practive layer blending, filters and Free Transform Tools. Have a try!

Here is a preview of the final effect: (click to enlarge)

spectrum-lines-final

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Ok let’s get started!

Step 1

Create  a new document with black background, for size I chose 980px * 400px however you can change this according to your own preference. Use 72 pixel/inch for resolution since we’re creating an image used for website.

Now let’s make a new brush preset. To do this, firstly select the brush tool with the following brush:

1-brush

Then apply the following brush dynamics to it:

Shape Dynamics

1-shape-dyn-2

Scattering

1-scattering

Other Dynamics

1-other-dyn

Make sure you also select the Airbrush and Smoothing option.

After finishing making this brush, let’s save it as a new brush preset so that we can use it in the future too. To do this, left-click the down tri-angle on the top right and click “new brush preset”:

1-new-brush-preset

And Enter the following into the window popup:

1-name

Then you will see the brush preset appear in the brush selection window:

1-after-save

Step 2

Create a new layer call “lines”, grab the Pen Tool and draw the following working path:

2-pen-tool

Hint: hold down Shift key and drag your mouse upwards approximately 45 degree for both archor points.

Then right-click and select the option “Stroke Path”:

2-stroke-path

Then choose the option “brush” and tick the “Simulate Pressure”:

2-brush

And you will have the following effect:

2-effect1

Step 3

Still on this “lines” layer, go to Filter > Blur > Motion Blur and apply the following settings:

3-motion-blur

Then hit Ctrl + F and apply the motion blur filter again, and you will have the following effect:

3-effect1

Apply the following Gradient Overlay blending option to this layer:

3-grad

Then duplicate this layer 4 times and merge the duplicated layer together, you will have the following effect:

3-effect-2

Rename this layer as “lines” after the merge.

Step 4

Again we duplicate the “lines” layers 3 times, and you will see the colour of the the spectrum become clearer:

4-duplicate

Then we merge those duplicated layer together, then use the Free Transform tool to resize it into the following:

4-resize

Then we can use the Warp Tool (Ctrl + T and right-click select “Warp”), transform it into the following shape:

4-warp

And here is the effect after warping:

4-effect1

Step 5

Now we can really just use our imagination and simply duplicate this “lines” layer a few times, rotate and resize each duplicated layer until the outcome is desirable:

Here is my effect so far:

5-effect1

Merge the duplicate layer together.

We can also add a bit of glowing effect to the spectrum lines. To do this, simple duplicate the merged layer and apply the following Gaussian Blur settings: (Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur)

5-gaussian-blur

Change the blending mode the duplicated layer to “Linear light” and you will have the following effect:

5-effect-21

To add some final touches, remember we created a new brush preset in Step 1? We can use it to add some nice dots on the abstract line.

Create a new layer called “dots” on top of all other layers, grab that brush preset and simply paint over the lines:

5-paint

Then Change the layer blending mode to “Overlay” and you will have the following effect:

5-blend

Duplicate this “dots” layer and change the blending mode of the duplicated layer back to “normal”, then reduce its opacity to 15% and erase some excessive parts.

You will have the following final effect:

5-final

Ok that’s it for this tutorial! Of course you can further enhance this image by adding some more effect, textures and filters.

Here is my final version for this tutorial: (Added a bit of cloudy effect and sharpen the image )

spectrum-lines-final

Hope you enjoy this tutorial and find it useful, drop me a comment if you have any question, I will try my best to help you out.

Cheers and have a nice day!

Categories: Abstracts,Web Graphics

Tags: ,,,,,

  • Loui

    really nice tutorial

  • Rolando Mota

    Very cool effect!

  • http://www.joyoge.com/ joyoge designers’ bookmark

    very nice effect I like, thanks..

  • Matt

    Nice, :). I do that same brush scatter for creating bubbles in underwater scenes, ^_^. Good tutorial.

  • http://www.miraztutorials.com huwaw69

    Wow this is great technique, ill try to make other blending to this technique

  • aragona

    hi james,shape dynamics settings for the brush are not displayed at step 1, instead, there are 2 images concerning “other dynamics”, 1 with 100% opacity, the other one with 100% flow. could you please check the images and correct them?

  • Josie

    This was really clear and easy to understand for noobs like me, thank you!

  • admin

    @aragona: just corrected it, thanks so much for pointing it out!

  • http://psdguides.com Rejis

    Nice tutorial. Keep it up!

  • ed

    stuck with the step of Gradient Overlay… not sure if CS2 would work.

    nice tut.

  • http://www.presidiacreative.com/ Eric Shafer

    Nice and easy tutorial, but it’s a cool effect! :)

    Featured here: http://www.presidiacreative.com/web-picks-20/

  • http://www.dreamygallery.net Laura

    Fantastic! Cool!

  • christ

    very nice tutorial…..

  • Sico

    You missed some options at step 2, Stroke path is not showing, also you did not mention such things as Shapes or DDrawing.

    etc.

    so i quit this tutorial due to missing pieces.

  • sohel

    very good one for photoshop users

  • Marvellokee

    Awesome tutorial..!!!! thanx a lot buddy..!!!!

  • Kim

    Hi!

    Wow! really big thx.
    I have been playin around with Photoshop cs3 for the last month and im not really that good. This tut really learned me some nice things that are really useful!

    Cheers /Kim

  • Michael

    very nice tutorial!! TY!!

  • ajmeet

    Hi i needed help because in the step where we have to use the pen tool and right click for stroke path, in my document the stroke path option is active. i dont know why this is happening can anyone help?

  • ajmeet

    sorry i meant to say it is not active*

  • James

    @ajmeet: make sure the Pen Tool is selected before you right-click. Hope this helps :)

  • mojitopl

    Hey.. I just found out Your site:) And that is good Thanks for this quick&sleek tutorial. Lots of inspirations come from this

  • kusu

    wow!!..
    really cool!
    gonna try it now
    btw,thanks!

  • Seren

    I can’t seem to select Airbrush on the brush preset?! It’s just greyed out, I’m not sure how to fix that and without it the effect isn’t quite the same sadly!

  • manisha

    tooooooooooooooooo goood!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • repjunk

    wow.. its really nice

  • Muhammad Usman Arshad

    really nice, thanks to share,
    keep it up, all the best,

  • Rohan

    i cannot able to apply free transform tool………..it says could not transform the path because the selected portion of the path
    DOES not Enclose ANY PIXELS……….PLEASE GIVE ME DETAILS OF STEP 4

  • James

    @rohan: before you attempt step 4, make sure you cancel the path by pressing the ESC key first, then apply the free transform tool.
    Hope this helps

  • mindkevin

    i want a person flying at the outer space…!!!

  • http://aerialss88.webcindario.com aerialss88

    Good job!. Awesome tut. Thankss

  • aravind.m

    This is awesome “Effect”….really nice…..

    Thanks you….

  • http://www.wptemplates.net Free Wordpress Templates

    It would be nice if you could create a sample psd for download. Nice tutorial. Thank you for sharing.

    Regards
    Casey

  • http://tutorialblog.info/ tutorial blog

    thank for tutorial

  • HALE

    Thanks for all .. its gorgeous and simple tutorial. everyone can make it and have fabulous result.

  • http://www.websnaker.ie rafal

    Simple, fast, effective!!! Cool!

  • ITE

    wonder if you can explain in details like the stroke path is not shown when using the Pen Tool..
    are there any ways to make the STROKE PATH shown for me to continue?

    i cant continue because the ‘stroke path’ is not shown even using the pen tool..

  • qwerty

    Really great tutorial!! Fantastic!

    @ajmeet ; @ITE… I had the same problem bet I somehow got it work by redrawing the lines and switching the tabs (Layer/Paths)! Hope this will do! ;)

  • Brill

    I am having issues with step 3, everything up to that works great, but in step 3, no motion blur occurs, even though I have Lines layer selected, and I did the steps as I saw them in the Tut.

  • Brill

    Figured it out…made the canvas 980×400 inches….instead of pixels….(so i made it 70,000×28,000 pixels) yikes….

  • http://web4diz.ru web4diz.ru

    nice work!!!

  • silje

    hey. just wonder about one thing. I try to change the colour from white to spectrum, the problem is that when i’m about to change there is no buttun to load or find other gradientd than black and white:S what do i do wrong:( it’s really cool, want to learn how to

  • http://www.medialinkers.com/atlanta_web_designers.html Medialinkers Atlanta

    My designing skills are getting better because of such inspiring tutorials.Thanks.Atlanta Web Design Company

  • http://www.paradisecoorg.com deepak

    Cool stuff man, simple way to finish it up Thank q

  • http://www.jhndesign.com/ jhn

    Great result and very easy to follow. Thanks for this perfect tutorial !