Building an Image – Northern Lights Deconstructed

When I’m doing a lecture, people often ask about how to do a particular technique. I don’t consider myself to be a Photoshop expert, so I usually give a name to the process, e.g. “layer mask” and suggest they put that term into Google and come up with a tutorial somebody has done on that process! There are some great tutorials out there to help you get started.

So, for my Christmas Greeting this year I have built a Northern Lights e-card, based on a web tutorial at this link, though I didn’t quite follow the process in the tutorial, preferring to use the techniques I generally work with.


I don’t often stray into the “digital art” arena, but this e-card has no photographic content at all. I started with a blank file with a very dark blue background…and painted in some purple streaks, then reflected them asymmetrically across the frame:


I added in some mountains and some streaks of colour in the sky….the streaks were made using a colour gradient on a separate layer and then using a layer mask to mask off the bits I didn’t want.


The sky colours were flipped and blended to create some reflections in the “water”:


Next, a few more colour adjustments, more mountains, some trees on the “nearest” mountains and some stars. I used the mixer brush in Photoshop to blend the coloured steaks more smoothly:


Final colour tweaks with HSB layer, a line and border and a greeting with a layer style were added:


My take on the Northern Lights. Happy Christmas Everyone.

Images Copyright © Christine Widdall 2012
error: © Christine Widdall - Kirklees Cousins