Create a magical rainbow color flame in Photoshop
2008 at 10.18 am posted by Veerle Pieters
One of the things I’ve seen around quite a bit lately is a transparent rainbow gradient effect on a dark background. It seems to me that flashy transparent gradients are in these days. They make me think about magic. Today I’ll show you how you can create a magical rainbow color flame. OK, maybe I’m using too many words in a row here, but it’s the best I can do to describe this.
I should tell you upfront that for this tutorial basic knowledge of Photoshop is needed.
Draw smoky lines
First we start with the creation of the smoky lines by using the Pen tool. Use a white fill for each shape layer and an Opacity of 40%. Set the Layer mode of the layer to Overlay and the Fill to 0%.
Double click on the right on one of the layers to open the Layer Styles. Add a white Drop Shadow of 100% Opacity and set the Blend Mode to Overlay. Distance and Spread is set to 0 and Size to 11. Next, make sure to uncheck Layer Knocks Out Shadow. Now check the Gradient Overlay in the styles palette. Choose Overlay as blend mode. Double click the Gradient thumbnail to edit the color stops in the Preset window. Select white as color for the left stop and give it 0% Opacity do the same for the right stop. Now add a stop at the Location of 50% (right in the middle), select white as color and give it an Opacity of 100%. Click OK to apply these Layer Styles to the layer. Select Copy Layer Style from the dropdown menu in the Layers palette (arrow on the right of the layer next to the fx icon). Now select all other smoke line Shape layers and select Paste Layer Style from that same dropdown menu. The style should be applied to all these layers now.
Add a cold gradient color flame
First we'll create a rainbow gradient preset. Select the Gradient tool in the Toolbox and go to the Gradient picker in the Toolbar at the top. If I'm not mistaken there should be a gradient called Transparent Rainbow by default in there. Double click to edit it. Remove the orange and yellow stop and move the the green, aqua, dark blue and hot pink stop so the colors are more equally divided over the length of the gradient. Give the gradient a name, for example 'Cold Gradient' and click the Newbutton. Click OK to close the window. Set the Opacity of the gradient in the Toolbar to 50%.
Create a new layer, select the Elliptical Marquee tool and drag a circular selection (hold down shift while dragging) towards the bottom of the smoky lines. Make sure the circular selection is big enough so you can add a Feather 85 pixels: Select > Modify > Feather. Now select the Gradient tool and drag a perfect horizontal line from the left of the circle and release the right of the circle (see image to the right above).
Touch up the flame using the Smudge tool
If all goes well your gradient should look more or less as in the image below. To be extra save, create a copy of this layer first just in case. This touching up and reshaping needs a bit of work and the result could be too messy. This way you can come back and give it another try.
Select the Smudge tool to reshape the gradient a bit so it looks a bit more like a colored flame. I've used a very big brush to reshape the area at the bottom and a smaller one to smudge out some colors so it looks a bit like they follow some of the smoky lines.
Add a warm gradient color flame
Add a second gradient effect in a new layer on top of the previous one. Just like before, select the Gradient tool in the Toolbox and go to the Gradient picker in the Toolbar at the top. Select the gradient called Transparent Rainbow from the dropdown gradient list and double click to edit. Remove the dark blue and aqua stop in the gradient. Rearrange the stops so the colors are equally divided over the entire length. Give the gradient a name, something like 'Warm Gradient' and click the Newbutton. Click OK to close the window. Make sure the Opacity of the gradient is set to 50% in the Toolbar.
Apply the gradient just like the previous one except create the selection a bit smaller and place it more towards the top of the smoky lines instead of at the bottom. Touch up and reshape the gradient using the Smudge tool. Make sure to make a copy of your layer (just to be safe) so you can always come back to it in case the result is not looking good.
Add glowing sparks
To add some extra magic effect, we'll add some sparkles. In one of my previous tutorials I've already showed you how to create glowing sparks. Anyhow here is it again to refresh your memory (but with slightly different settings). Open the Brushes palette (F5 or Window > Brushes). Choose the 21 sized feathered brush. Check Shape Dynamics and Scattering. Select Brush Tip Shape and in the sliders at the bottom, set the Hardness to 0%. Check Spacing and drag the slider towards 403%. Select Scattering, check Both Axes and put the Scatter to 775%. Select Shape Dynamics and change the Size Jitter slider to 100%
Create a new layer on top of the other layers and set the Layer mode to Overlay. Select the Brush tooland select white as Foreground color. Now draw a random line. Duplicate the layer with the sparks once or twice depending on the glow effect you want to achieve. Then merge these layers back together (command/control + e).
My end result
Here is my end result. I've added some stars as well in 3 different colors each as a Shape layer: hot pink, aqua blue and bright green. They where drawn in Illustrator and pasted into Photoshop as a Shape layer.
Want to learn more?
A good and not expensive source to learn more about Illustrator, Photoshop, or web design is by joining the Tuts+ sites. You get access to the source files for just $9 a month. So your ONE membership gives you access to members-only content for ALL the Plus sites. I've written a tutorial for the Vector Tuts section.