|A popular effect, no need for any fancy filters or plugins to achieve
it. This tutorial gives you total control of the shape, color, size,
and placement of you sparkles!
To make this really fast, download a premade star brush, or follow
the whole tutorial to make your own.
In this tutorial we’ll learn to use the Brush Tool, Brush
Variance Palette, Blur Filters, and make a custom brush.
1. Open a new document, at least 200 dpi for good printing, and
make a new layer. Fill the background with a darker color so you
will see the sparkles.
2. To make a star brush, open a second new document, 2”x2”.
This size canvas gives you roughly a size 400 brush, but you can
adjust the size later depending on the size you want for your layout.
There are many star brushes available for download, so you can find
and use one of those instead and skip ahead to step 3.
a. In the small document, use your Brush Tool. Click the arrow next
to the brush thumbnail in the Options Bar to open the brush menu,
choose any Line brush.
b. Click Shape: Round (the circle icon) to give the lines a faded
tip as shown. In the screen shot, see the difference when the square
shape or round shape is used.
c. Use the Rotation option to make 2 lines about 280 Size, one each
at 45 degrees rotation, and 135 degrees, in an X shape as shown.
d. Decrease the brush size to about 150 or your preference, and
make another cross on the first, 1 line each at 0 degrees rotation
and 90 degrees.
e. Use a Square brush, 25 Size, 0 Hardness, 45 degree rotation,
Shape Round, to add a dark black center to the star, clicking multiple
times to darken more, depending on your preference. Anything white
will be transparent on the brush created; anything black will be
opaque, and shades of gray have varying opacity depending on lightness.
You want a very opaque center to make a bright, believable star.
f. Filter>Gaussian Blur about 1.5, depending on your preference
and resolution. You’ll likely have to undo and repeat these
steps several times to get something you like.
g. Click File>Export>Custom Brush. Name the brush Star and
it will be immediately available in the Brushes menu, in alphabetical
3. When your brush is the way you like it, or you have found some
to download, paint a white star trail on your dark canvas. If you
don’t like the shape, repeat step 2 until you have something
that will work.
4. The default settings on the custom brush probably won’t
look very good, so type F11 or click View>Palettes>Brush Variance
to customize the settings.
5. Increase Position Jitter to increase the scatter of the stars,
and increase size and rotation jitters to vary the size and angle
of the stars. Play around with all the settings in this palette
and learn what each one does, painting new star trails to see what
effects you like.
6. If you run out of room on your canvas to see what the changes
are from your varying settings, click Edit>Command History or
Ctrl-Shift-Z to open the History and undo all your painting so you
can paint some more!
7. Once you adjust the settings you want to set those as the default
settings, so open the Brushes menu again and click the paper icon
to Create New Brush Tip. Name your brush and click OK. You can delete
the original brush if you want, or keep it if you like the default
settings on both.
8. Go back to the dark background state and create a new raster
layer named Stars and paint a star trail with zig-zagging motions.
You can stop here, or continue to add some effects.
9. Make a new layer under the Stars layer and name it Dust.
10. Using a large soft round brush on low opacity, Blend Mode to
Screen, paint on a glow under the trail with various pastel colors
to create a rainbow effect.
11. Filter>Gaussian Blur to the Dust layer, about 100 or however
you like. Lower the opacity of this layer if needed.
12. You’re done! Use this technique on your layouts, or remove
the dark background and copy the linked Stars and Dust layers onto