Create a Dark Abyss with an Emerging Blue Light

By   |  Stashed in Design & Drawing


Overview of the Tutorial

This tutorial will teach you various techniques that photoshop has to offer, from using keyboard shortcuts to filters. By the end you will have created a cool lighting effect that appears from a dark abyss.

Step 1

Firstly, open up photoshop if you haven’t already done so. Select File -> New and setup up the canvas as shown below. It really doesn’t matter what size the composition is just don’t use a resolution lower than 72 pixels per inch.


Step 2

Okay now you should be staring at a blank canvas. Go ahead and fill it with black by pressing ‘shift + f5′ and selecting the colour black.


Step 3

Now we are going to produce a nice background which I like to use for a lot of my work. Double click on the layer and select gradient overlay. What we are going to do is produce a subtle radial gradient to create a focus for our composition. Set the radial gradient properties as shown below.


Step 4

Next, create a new layer by pressing ‘shift + ctrl + n’ and then enter. We are now going to apply some clouds, to do this select filter from the toolbar at the very top and then select render->clouds. This creates a cloud effect with the foreground and background colour. Set the layer to overlay by selecting the drop down menu above layer 2 and clicking on overlay.


Step 5

You may want to duplicate the cloud layer by presing ‘ctrl + J’ but I think just one looks good! Okay now to start creating your underwater mystery. Create a new layer and press ‘G’ to select the gradient tool. Click the gradient that appears in the toolbar and create a gradient that looks similar to the image below.


Step 6

Now, making sure you have the radial gradient icon selected, click on the center of your canvas and drag till your outside of the canvas, to produce a nice radial gradient of the colors you have just chosen. We can then map this gradient onto the cloudy layer below by using the blending option ‘color’ from the drop down menu above the layer. Next, I like to duplicate the layer and then set it to overlay with an opacity of about 65%. It gives the composition a more vibrant feel.


Step 7

Now to a create our strange emerging light. Create a new layer, press G to select the gradient tool and select the gradient that goes from white to nothing. This gradient actually goes from white at 100% opacity to white at 0% opacity. With this gradient draw a small radial gradient roughly in the center of the canvas. Set this layer to overlay and duplicate 4 times, you should get an effect like the image below.


Step 8

Next up, we’ll create some explosive rays. Create a new layer, render some clouds and in the filter menu above render you should see pixelate. Select pixelate and mezzotint, fine dots. You should get a load of black and white dots. Now to use another filter, blur->radial blur. However, we are not going to use the radial blur, we are going to use the zoom blur method. Set amount to 100 and quality to best then press OK. You should get something like below.


Step 9

Now just set the layer to overlay. I like to reduce the opacity to 80%, but that’s just my personal preference. Okay, now to make some bubbles. Create another new layer and press the ‘B’ key to select the brush tool and then ‘F5′ to bring up the brush panel. Now what you want to do is choose a round brush with a diameter of 30px. Then add some spacing, scattering, shape and opacity dynamics. It is pretty straight forward, just mess around with it until you get something you like. Now just draw around the circle of light you created.


Step 10

Set this layer to overlay. Now we want to add some lighting to the bubbles. Double click on the layer
and add a gradient overlay with the settings below.


Step 11

To create some depth we repeat steps 8 through 10, but add 30px to the diameter of the brush this time and draw a larger concentric circle around the light each time. Below is an example of me doing this. For each of the new bubble layers you copy the layer style from the first one you made by right clicking the layer and selecting copy layer style, then paste it onto your new layers.


After doing this (hopefully) you should get:


Step 12

Next up, we’ll make some cool light rays. Choose the polygonal Lasso tool and select and area like below. Create a new layer and with the white 100% opacity to 0% opacity graident, drag form the center to the edge of your selection to get the effect below.


Step 13

Then as always set to overlay and press ‘ctrl + D’ to deselect the selection. Repeat the previous step a number of times until you are happy. Here is how mine looks.


Step 14

Now to finsh mine off I created a new layer and rendered some clouds. I set that to overlay to add a little contrast. I then selected the blue, red and yellow gradient and overlayed that on a new layer and finally, I created a new layer, rendered some clouds and added the glass distortion filter (filter->distort->glass), and
set the opacity the 65% to give a watery texture.

I was still a bit displeased so I created a new layer went to the toolbar and selected image->apply image. This puts all the visible layers into one layer. I then went filter->distort->zigzag and chose the style ‘around center’. The amount was around 45 and ripples was around 8. Finish by setting the layer to soft light 45%.


Thanks for reading! :)

About the Author

Liam McCabe is a 17 year old student who currently manages CreativityDen. He loves graphic and web design and is hoping to one day set up a site dedicated to unique photoshop tutorials!

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  • Sneh | LBOI Blog

    Simple and nicely done! Thanks for sharing this tutorial :-)

    Sneh | LBOI Blog´s last post was… 50 Creative Green Organic Eco Logos

  • Heather

    Thats a cool effect, thanks for sharing!

    Heather´s last post was… Playing with Halftone Textures

  • MorayWeb

    Nice one, was looking for an effect just like this for a background on a new site! Perfect, thanks for a great tut! :)

    MorayWeb´s last post was… Project Launch : Scottish Business Network

  • Penelope Else

    Thank you for these tutorials – they’re fascinating! Invaluable to a newbie, and they give me a new appreciation of the skill I’m seeing across the internet…

    Penelope Else´s last post was… “Peanuts” widow gives $1M to support cartoon art research

  • Liam McCabe

    Thanks for the comments guys :)

    Liam McCabe´s last post was… #5 Creative Logos of the Week!

  • squareart

    Cool tut, will be giving it a try when I have some play time. Thanks for sharing – I’m enjoying your blog, nice bits and bobs to try: )

    squareart´s last post was… Fantastic Typeface Portrait of Steve Jobs by Dylan Roscover

  • Liam McCabe

    Thanks squareart!

    I love your latest post :)

    Liam McCabe´s last post was… #5 Creative Logos of the Week!

  • Albi

    Cool, well explained.

  • Anna

    Very well explained, thanks. Best of luck for the development of your tutorial site, I’ll be looking out for it.

  • huwaw69

    great tutorial, but some other things are not been explained like the brush and pick some dot shape, how to make a spacing, its really not understandable for some really beginners like me…

    huwaw69´s last post was… 20 Hand Picked photography and Art Inspirations # 17

  • Christopher

    I was striving to become a great film maker until recently I realize how important a practical knowledge of photoshop can enhance the production quality of the final product. Bless the day you were born with a your heart and mind to share knowledge with others around the world. I consider photoshop to be one of those programs with a relatively steep learning curve for those of us who prefer to be self-thought; so in a way, I feel empowered even blessed by your unselfish act of generosity.

  • jagu

    it is good tutorial thanks for giving us a nice tutorial.

  • Someguy

    This is kind of confusing to new photoshop users…

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    Your site is worth beeing in the top cause it contains really amazing information.