Without a doubt the most difficult and lengthy style of lightsabers to create.  When making the original Star Wars trilogy, the lightsaber effects had to be painted on a glass cell, by hand, for each individual frame.  With many different saber artists working solely on the lightsaber effects, it is easy to understand why the effect seemed to change in different scenes.  This also explains how the sabers got their pulsating motion.  Here's a warning right off the bat, I would not, NOT try to do this style for a video, it would be quite a bit of work.

Materials Needed:

    -Adobe Photoshop & basic knowledge of the program

    -Digital Camera or any camera as long as you have a scanner

    -A Hasbro toy lightsaber or something to represent the saber (I use a dowel rod)

        Step 1:  Open your image in Adobe Photoshop.  Create a new layer set to Screen Mode.  Make sure to check the "fill with neutral color" box.

        Step 2:  Unlike the Episodes 1 & 2 style sabers, these sabers require that the blades not be perfectly straight.  So use your line tool or polygonal lasso tool to draw out your blade and fill it with a pale version of your lightsaber color.  Now use your paintbrush tool, I'd use a smaller brush size, and add some imperfections to the blade.  Just add a few bulges, not large ones and not too many, so the saber blade holds the appearance of being hand drawn.  It is because of this step that I do not recommend this style saber for any sort of video.  You would have to paint all these imperfections in by hand for each frame in Photoshop, and if you were trying to create the pulsating effect, it'd take even more time.  NOTE:  Leave some of toy sabers, or dowel rod, showing, but not much.  These blades will become quite thick throughout  this tutorial, so adjust to your taste.  NOTE:  Typically these style of sabers taper more at the points, much like a sword would, however in my picture the saber is coming towards the camera, so this doesn't show to well.  Keep in mind that these sabers almost come to a point.

        Step 3:  Go to Filter-Blur-and apply a Gaussian blur that is roughly 1/8  your saber width.  Now go to Image-Adjust-Levels and use a value of 2 in the first input box and a value of 35 in the last input box.  Apply another Gaussian blur, just enough to soften the edges slightly.

        Step 4:  Duplicate your blade layer three times.  I've labeled Copy Layer 3 = Tight Glow, Copy layer 2 = Loose Glow and Copy layer 1 =  Brighten.

        Step 5:  On the Tight Glow layer apply a Gaussian blur that is about equal to your blade width.

        Step 6:  Go to the Loose Glow layer and apply a Gaussian blur that is double your blade width.

        Step 7:  Go to the Brighten layer and apply a Gaussian blur that is half your line width.

        Step 8:  Merge the Tight Glow and Loose Glow layers and go to Image-Adjust-Color Balance.  You'll notice that the classic trilogy's lightsabers were very bright or very pronounced.  To accomplish this, set the midtones to 100% of your saber color, the highlights to 80-90%, and the shadows somewhere between 70-90%. 

        Step 9:  Now select the Brighten layer and go to Image-Adjust-Color Balance and set an opposing color (i.e. Green saber would have a yellow, red a magenta, etc.)  Set midtones to 100%, highlights between 50-65% and shadows to 55%.

        Step 10:  Now just merge your saber layers and apply a Gaussian blur to it.  I've waited until this step so you can gauge how much of a blur it will take to soften the edges, while not eliminating the imperfections altogether.  That's it. 


Go to Top