Apr 19, 2016

How to Create Northern Lights in Photoshop

How to Create Northern Lights

Northern Lights are actually collisions between electrically charged particles from the sun that enter the earth’s atmosphere. Add this effect to any night photo in a few simple steps.

Painting Northern Lights

The key to painting Northern Lights is to start with a simple shape and then warp it into the final form of the lights. In this case, we create a special brush that scatters brush strokes, giving a more random pattern to the lights.

After scattering brush strokes, a motion blur is applied to make it look like the brush strokes are streaks of light. It can be helpful to re-apply the blur filter to give a more scattered look.

Once you have created a ‘strip’ of Northern Lights, it is time to warp it into place. To warp, press CTRL+T to bring up the transformation dialog. Then right-click on the layer and select ‘warp’.


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    Hello, Aaron!!! I love your tutorials, I’ve learning a lot since I started following you! Can I ask you something? I’m so curious to know how we can make the effect in The Detour poster… Thank you for everything!!! Brazilian kisses!!!

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    Just tried this myself and it works so well very impressed, let me know what your guys think I’m by no means a professional! love all your tutorials keep them coming please!

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    I like to do nightscapes along with my astrophotography so I’m looking forward to trying this. I did notice though that you have part of the aurora in front of the clouds, which of course is not possible. Probably most people wouldn’t notice but it really stands out to an astrophotographer. Great work though, I’m learning a lot from your tutorials.

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    So I just want to acknowledge what Phlearn does, because I literally got familiar with Photoshop because of the small YouTube videos you do!! Before I was using only a few, very basic tools in PS that I knew, and I couldn’t totally create the effects I wanted to, but just because I watched and did so many of these small tutorials, I am a lot more familiar, and I can actually play around with the tools and find very cool things randomly!! This is amazing, thank you so much!!
    I do have an idea, that I did not find a method for, yet, if you want to make it a small tutorial somewhere in the future I will be really happy: How to color Black and White pictures. I did try a few things, but they just don’t look the way I want them to…
    Anyway, I really appreciate what you guys do and don’t ever stop!!!

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      I love beautiful photos

      Something you might want to look into is download NIK Collection if you have not already. The Silver module does a lot of nice things with B&W. PHLEARN recently published a video on getting and getting started with NIK collection now that it is 100% free. Why not give it a try?

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      Re: Coloring Black and White Photo

      Sorina — Aaron did such a tutorial awhile back. This is the link to it. Hope this helps.

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        Wooow, awesome!! Thank you to both you and Aaron, you guys are amazing!!! 🙂

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    Hi, Hoping to see them for real in October on my Iceland Trek with the RNIB – but if all else fails I can use this. Great tutorial.

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    Paul Burdett

    I really enjoy your tutorials. I recently came across this image and wondered how this may be replicated in Photoshop. Can you help?

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    I am just starting photoshop I not even sure of the tools,layers is there away learn photoshop I have lived in the north and this photo would fool me.Thanks