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Creating a glow is an easy special effect. It's essentially a drop shadow that isn't offset at all from the original object and is often in a color other than black. In Hour 17, “Adding Type to Pictures,” you learned how to use Photoshop's Glow layer style to apply a glow to lettering. Here's a different and easy way to put a glow around type or an object.

Try it Yourself

Create a Glow Around an Object

Let's create a basic glow around an object. I have an object that's practically screaming for a glow. It's a translucent trackball. You can download this from the book's web page. It's called trackball.jpg.

When the main book page has loaded, click the Downloads link to get to the files, or use an example from your own collection. It's helpful if the object that will glow is easy to select.

Select an image to which you would like to apply the effect. Figure 18.1 (and the color section) shows the original photo.

Figure 18.1. Ball, bright but not glowing.

First, you need to select the object that will glow; in this case, the ball. The Elliptical Marquee tool does a fine job on this particular image. If there are cutouts in your object, be sure that they're selected, too.

Copy the object and paste it onto a new layer. Now you have two layers: one with the complete image and one with just the selected object.

Use the menu on the Layers palette to duplicate this layer. Now, you have the entire scene as background and two layers of the same cutout object. Select the lower of the two.

Click anywhere in the clear area with the Magic Wand, and choose Select→Invert to select just the ball or whatever you are using as a glow object. Expand the selection (Select→Modify→Expand) by 50 pixels (or whatever's appropriate for your image). Feather the edges by 20 pixels.

Use the Path menu to make a work path around the selection. Use the Fill Path command to fill the work path with an appropriate glow color. Use the Delete Path command to lose the line around it. Now, only the color remains on the layer. Figure 18.2 shows this step.

Figure 18.2. I've turned off the top layer to show the glow better.

Make sure that the glow is selected. Use the Gaussian Blur filter to diffuse the glow. I used a setting around 10 for a generous glow.

Assemble the layers so that the glow is beneath the object. If the shadows interfere with the glow, remove them. Figure 18.3 shows the final product.

Figure 18.3. Be sure to see this in the color plate section. It's not as effective in black and white.



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