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Using Transparent Light Effects

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What do stars, Christmas lights, lens flares, sunshine, and sparkles all have in common? They're all bright objects that shine out on a darker background. If you're looking for illustrations of these elements to add some shining lights to your designs, you'll find what you need on Creative Market. But you'll need to make sure you have the right software to make your designs sparkle! We'll tell you all about these light effects in this tutorial.

Let's use this product as an example: Colorful light effects.Glow sparkles by ExpressShop

Light effects are often delivered as Adobe Illustrator (AI) vectors, EPS vectors, transparent PNG files, or layered Adobe Photoshop (PSD) files. Layered graphic files rely on transparency effects and blending modes, and flattened files rely on a darker background that provides contrast with the shining element.

Note: JPG files are flat graphic files without transparency that might come in the product files as a preview of the effect. Generally, they're not recommended to use while creating light effects. Instead, see if your purchased product files include an AI, EPS, PNG, or PSD file.


PNG Files with Transparency (Also use these concepts in a layered PSD)

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You'll need Adobe Photoshop CS6 or above for this tutorial. You can also watch a video clip of the process below:

 

  • To start, open the PNG in Adobe Photoshop. Make sure your Layers panel is open. (Window > Layers)
  • Create a background layer, or add your own background as a separate layer. We've added a color adjustment layer. Make sure that layer is behind the light effect.
  • Next, select the light effect. Under the blending mode at the top of the layers panel, select Screen.
  • You're done! You can also add the PNG file as a layer to another Photoshop document, and then use the Screen blending mode to achieve the effect on any background.

NOTE: Many graphic design applications use blending modes that are similar to Photoshop's. You may be able to achieve a similar effect in other software (e.g. Procreate, etc) by using the Screen blending mode.


EPS / AI File with Transparency

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You'll need Adobe Illustrator CS6 or above for this tutorial. You can also watch a video clip of the process below:

  • To start, open the EPS / AI file in Adobe Illustrator. Make sure your Layers panel is open. (Window > Layers)
  • Find the background layer in your layers panel by opening up the main layer group (or the background layer group.) Many Shop Owners use a checkered graphic as the background to illustrate that any image may be used in place of this graphic.
  • Add a background to the file. This might be a rectangle in a color that contrasts with the bright element, or it might be another illustration or image. We've drawn a rectangle and made it green.
  • Move the background below all of the light effect layers, but above the pre-made checkered background. You can even delete the checkered background if you want.
  • You may notice that individual light effect layers may use blending modes such as color dodge or screen. These effects can be changed from the Transparency Panel (Window > Transparency)
  • You're done! You can also copy the light effects to another vector file and place it on a dark colored background. Keep in mind that the light effects look best on a dark background.

NOTE: Other vector graphics editors use blending modes that are similar to Illustrator's. You may be able to achieve a similar effect in other software (e.g. Sketch, etc) by using the Screen blending mode.

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