Photoshop: Starburst Effect

In today’s tutorial, I thought it would be pretty neat to create a similar starburst background, like in the new “The Voice” ad.


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I’m going to be starting with a 1280px x 720 px document, but you’re of course free to start with any sized document that you wish. The first thing we need to do, is set up our colors.

Foreground color:  #aa1a1f. This will be used for the red stripes.
Background color: #240003.

Once the colors are set up, we’re going to create a gradient, from top to bottom. Grab your Gradient Tool from the Tools Bar, and then on your Options Bar, make sure that your gradient is set to Foreground to Background, and that the Linear option is selected.

Once those options are set, drag out a gradient from the top of your document, right to the bottom. Make sure to hold down your Shift key to constrain it to the vertical axis.

At this point, we need to create our stripes. To do this, we’re going to start with the Wave Filter Filter > Distort > Wave. This will allow us to break our gradient down into even lines. Here are the settings I’m going to use.

In your preview window, you should see nice sharp lines. If you don’t, play around with the settings until you get something similar. Pressing OK will apply the filter to our layer.

Before we twist these lines around to create the Starburst effect, we need to deal with one more thing. To move away from boring, solid lines, let’s add a few ‘creases’ to them. It’s going to be a lot easier to create these before we distort the lines. Start by duplicating your current layer with your Command or CTRL + J shortcut. Once that’s done, let’s add some noise by heading to Filter > Noise > Add Noise. We want to add a nice amount of noise.

Now we want to stretch out this noise to create smaller lines. To do this, we’re going to add a Motion Blur. Filter > Blur > Motion Blur.

When you apply the filter, set the Blend Mode of that layer to Overlay, then with your Command/Ctrl key held down, press E to merge your two layers together. Here is what you should have so far:

To create the starburst effect, head up to Filter > Distort > Polar Coordinates.

This will give us a neat starburst effect, but it’s a bit too sharp for my liking. Let’s add a Surface Blur. Filter > Blur > Surface Blur.

After the blur, your lines should be looking slightly better:

Next, what we’re going to do, is we’re going to add a highlight to the center of this image. Start by creating a new layer with Linear Dodge set for the Blend Mode.

Now we need to set up our colors again.

Foreground color: #f78953.
Background color: #aa1a1f.

Once the colors are set up, grab your Gradient Tool again, and set the gradient to Radial.

Now drag out a gradient from the center of your document, to the top.

Once that’s done, we want to fade it out slightly. In your Layers Panel, add a layer mask to this layer.

Your colors should have changed to white (foreground) and black (background). As long as they did, drag out another radial gradient from the middle to just below the top of your document.

You should have a nice highlight in the middle now.

The next thing we’re going to do, is add a bit of clouds. On another new layer, set your foreground color to a medium red, and your background color to black. When those are set, head up to Filter > Render > Clouds.

Set the Blend Mode to Screen, and decrease the Opacity to around 60%.

The last element I’m going to add, will be the scattered dots. You can add these manually, or you can create a custom brush, which I’ve used in several past tutorials, like my Space Scene. Scatting a few dots around the scene will add some extra flare to the design. Here are the brush settings for a ‘stars’ like brush.

To finish the design, grab an image of your choice, and place it in the foreground!