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A lightning bolt

A lightning bolt is a very practical image clip, that is also pretty easy to create. There are many tutorials related to this effect, but nearly all of them are for Photoshop. Let's do it on GIMP:

1. Create a new image.

Square-shaped, you pick the size.

2. Create a gradient

Use black and white. I recommend using bilinear gradient. This way you'll get two bolts at the same time. Drag the gradient from the middle of the document to the edge.

3. Fade the upper- and the lower edges of the gradient.

The handiest way to do this is using a layer mask. Create a mask by right-clicking the name of the layer in the layer dialog and selecting Add Layer Mask. A window appears in the screen, asking how the mask should be filled. Select White (Full opacity). Click OK, and you now have the mask. Now, select the gradient tool again, and select Black as the foreground color. Select gradient FG to Transparent from the dropdown menu. Now set gradient Shape to linear. Now drag gradients of about 2 centimeters from the upper and lower edges of the mask inwards. Make sure that you see alpha now where you dragged the gradients. If not, undo them and click the layer mask preview in the Layer dialog so that your modifications now apply to the mask instead of the layer itself.

4. Create solid noise.

This is a very handy filter when you need random pattern. It works fine here too. Create a new layer above the gradient layer. Set the Mode of this layer to Difference. Now render some coulds to this layer. Filters->Render->Clouds->Solid noise By testing various values you'll find the combination that pleases you most. The "bigger" (X- and Y- size) noise you create, the more complex bolt you'll get. The value of Detail also matters, and the result will be quite realistic with value of 6. I chose these values:

5. Invert colors


6. Adjust Levels

In order to get rid of extra white. Layer->Colors->Levels Drag the grey pointer to the right end of the bar.

7. Remove black.

This makes it easy to add the bolt into an image. Layer->Transparency->Color to alpha Click the button underneath the preview and select the black color from the appearing window and click OK.

8. Copy the bolt.

You can select it easily with Lasso -tool and copypaste it to the image you want.
You can colourize it first or when you've added it to its target. Have a look at my further enhanced result:

Tip: You can use the Supernova -filter in the end of the bolt. First, create the Nova to a black layer and paste the bolt onto it so that the bolt starts from the middle of the nova. The result will look fine if both the nova and the bolt are uncolourized. This way the color of the bolt doesn't cover the nova.
What do you think? Let me know! (Tutorials are rated as 10 being the best)


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