View Full Version : How to Make Lightning effect -Newbie Question

09-10-2003, 08:05 AM
I want to make a 2d image of lightning. How is it done, and where would I begin.

If anyone can give me some advice or point me to a tutorial, I'd be grateful. I've looked at the various lighting effects in the manual, but I don't know how to go about this.


The author of the images says the lightning was created in3ds Max. So I'm hoping I can do it in Lightwave.

09-10-2003, 10:54 AM
From the way those lightning strikes cut off when they hit the floor it is pretty durn obviouse that they are just images mapped onto flat planes - you will notice that the lightning in the 4th image is identical to the back plane of lightning in the 3rd image.

If you invest in IFW textures there is a pretty good generator in there which creates a sort of 3D fractal lighting with transparency - so you just apply it to a surface and tweak.

otherwise just create a BW image - in photoshop or hand&scan - with a sharp central streak and soft spread.
make your basic surface the right sort of proportion & purple or whatever you fancy. apply the image as both luminosity map (at 200% ?) and transparency map (one or the other will need to be inverted).

09-11-2003, 10:06 AM
I find the following works really well in Photoshop: (try it in a blank image first)

1) Create a black to white gradient in an empty image- the steeper (sharper) it is, the finer the lightning will be.
2) Run the difference clouds (render) filter on it.
3) Invert (Ctrl+I) the image. You should have a lightning-like white streak running roughly perpendicular to the gradient fill line you drew earlier.
4) Drop the brightness way down (-100 to -80), and the contrast way up (+70 to +90). This should give you a nice lightning shape.
5) Colorize it with your color of choice. I like a hue of 238 and saturation of 85.
6) Tweak the brightness and contrast again if you like.

That's it!

You'll find that the way you draw the gradient has quite an effect on the shape and size of the lightning. Experiment with this, and also, each time you render the difference clouds it'll be different so keep trying until you get something you like.

09-11-2003, 07:39 PM
Thank you both. I was able to get good results using both methods. I could even make a quick and painless lightning animation using photoshop.