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Easily Create a Beautiful, Unique Website Header

In this tutorial, I’ll show you how you can create a beautiful, unique, abstract website header in just a few easy steps. This abstract lighting technique is one you’ll “Wow” a lot of visitors with!

What We’re Making

This is a technique that I’ve recently used on personal projects of my own, and have impressed a lot of people with. It only made sense to me to share how to accomplish this look with our loyal viewers here at Tutorial9! Here’s a quick look at the effect we’re going to make in this tutorial:

Example of the Abstract Lighting Technique

I’ve never been a huge fan of the standard “Lens Flare” effects Adobe Photoshop had to offer, which is the main reason I came up with this effect.

Now, let’s begin!

Step 1: Setting Up

Create a new document in Photoshop, and use the Paint Bucket Tool to fill the Background layer with a dark color. In my document, I used #191919 — Something dark, but not completely black.

Background Color: #191919

Step 2: Adding Some Light

This effect is ALL about experimenting with color, placement, and size. To create the unique lighting effect, we are going to use a Large, Soft Brush Tool. Select a standard round brush from the options bar or brushes palette, and increase the brush size to around 400px, and the Hardness to 0%.

Now select a bright, vibrant Foreground Color. For my first color, I’ll be using a nice sky blue, #61a6f4. Create a new Layer, and create a splash of color somewhere along the top edge of your banner. Set this layers blending mode to Linear Dodge (This will let it mix with other colors we use later on a bit nicer than the Normal Blending Mode).

Experiment with the Blending Modes of your layers

Step 3: Additional Colors and Blending Modes

We’re going to introduce a few new colors into the fray to make things a little more interesting. One important thing to note here is that each new brush and color you use should be painted on separate layers. Doing so will really make it easy to experiment with blending modes and positioning later on!

Let’s throw a new color onto a new layer. I’m going to be using a bright, pale orange, like #fbb85a. I’m also going to adjust the size of my brush to something a bit smaller, like 300px. After painting, I’m going to change the blending mode for this layer to Overlay.

Add new colors to for your effect

To brighten this area up a bit, I’m going to create a New Layer, and use a soft, White brush with the blending mode set to Overlay directly above the Orange I just created in the document.

Use White, Overlay layers to brighten areas up

Continue to add new colors using varying brush sizes, and different blending modes. After about 5 more layers, using Overlay, Lighten, Linear Dodge, & Hard Light with the 3 colors I’ve used, here is what I’ve got:

Step 4: Adding an Awesome Lens Flare

This is probably the most difficult part of the effect, but only because it requires a little creativity on the designers part. Like I mentioned earlier, I’m really not a fan of the Lens Flare Filter Photoshop has to offer — Which is why we are going to create our own, simpler flare.

How to create a custom Lens Flare

On a new Layer, using the same colors we’ve been using so far (Only this time, with the blending mode set to Normal), use your creativity to put together a flare effect of your own. It’s really a lot easier than it sounds. Establish a direction for your flare in your mind, and then create a series of blotches that follow that direction. To make things easier, you can follow the stages I took in the diagram to create something similar to what I have.

Remember, this is all on the same layer to make things simpler for us. You’ll need to plan what order you paint your colors in though so they overlap correctly.

Here is our finished flare above our other layers:

The Finished Flare

Step 5: Blending the Flare

It’s obvious that the flare in it’s current state simply won’t do. Don’t worry, it’s an easy fix. Remember all those layers you created earlier with different blending modes? All you have to do is position your flare underneath some of those layers (You’ll have to experiment to see what looks best), and the blending modes will mix the colors and hopefully look very nice!

The finished effect

It’s just that Simple!

That’s really all there is to the effect. Not a bad look for something so easy to make.

If you want my opinion, I think this effect is a great touch for a minimalist layout that uses dark colors, as it’s soft, and not very distracting. Text can easily be read over the lighting (provided it’s not to bright or dark where you place your text).

For reference, you’re welcome to grab the PSD File we used in this tutorial!


  1. Add point Subtract point
    Stride Rite Coupons (1 Point) March 28, 2011 at 2:00 pm

    Thanks so much for this tutorial. And you made the actual psd file downloadable which is really a bonus for me. I can’t wait for any other tips on doing photoshop work.

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    kenichifc (0 Points) December 14, 2010 at 10:40 pm

    thanks for tutorial. Love it, simple and effective :D

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    It’s awesome that you can download a psd file. That helps a lot.

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    Bowflex Revolution (1 Point) November 10, 2010 at 1:22 pm

    I will give this a shot. It does look professional. Thanks for the step-by-step.
    Mike @ Bowflex Revolution Video

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  5. Add point Subtract point

    i am naveed i make a website plz mujay website ka tariqa bata dain

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    Stefanescu Marian (2 Points) August 28, 2010 at 2:48 pm

    Thak you for sharing this helpfull infomation!Keep up the awesome work!

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    Sara Boyd (2 Points) August 14, 2010 at 9:18 am

    This is one of the best tutorials on the web because it’s versitale and quick and 99% of the time it comes out looking absolutely fantastic! Thank you for sharing.

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    tony (-1 Points) August 5, 2010 at 12:56 am

    could you give me a flare color example if i use #c9e4d8 as my background color?

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    Katie (0 Points) July 23, 2010 at 2:39 pm

    Thanks so much for the tutorial. I love that you gave us some creative freedom so everyone won’t get the same result but will still get something beautiful.

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    456 (0 Points) July 2, 2010 at 4:58 pm

    émoticones monkey 15
    t salut tut eqsbfoubsdddddmonde merci pur ringing hhàkspjohfèçègs5634

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    Kurs SQL (0 Points) May 19, 2010 at 6:09 am

    Looks simply but nice. I’ll try.

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    Web Design (0 Points) April 26, 2010 at 7:51 pm

    Wow that is easy and beautiful!!! thanks so much

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  13. Add point Subtract point

    I really like this, thanks!

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    Multi@How You Can Create Websites (0 Points) April 20, 2010 at 9:05 am

    That is a very interesting effect that you’ve create there. I see Photoshop has a lot of great features to offer. Thanks for sharing!

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    โหลดเพลง (0 Points) March 29, 2010 at 11:42 am

    Very great Post! Thank you for your sharing.

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  16. Add point Subtract point
    vinay (0 Points) March 8, 2010 at 1:20 am

    its fabulous plz reply me soon to encourage me

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  17. Add point Subtract point
    Yasmin lawsuits (0 Points) February 16, 2010 at 12:31 pm

    Nice tutorial. Very easy to understand.

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    โหลดเพลงฟรี (1 Point) February 3, 2010 at 2:44 am

    wow Great article, thanks!167

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    ฟังเพลงใหม่ (1 Point) February 1, 2010 at 11:54 pm

    wow Great article, thanks!154

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  20. Add point Subtract point

    wow Great article, thanks!149

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    ฟังเพลงออนไลน์ (1 Point) January 30, 2010 at 10:10 am

    Great reading! Thanks for sharing

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  22. Add point Subtract point

    Nice tutorial. Very useful. I’ll use it in my works.

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    Mark @ Felt Christmas Stocking Kits (1 Point) October 26, 2009 at 5:30 pm

    This is exactly what I have been looking for. I have been looking for some simple easy to follow steps in order to make headers for my websites. Thanks

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    Vencanice (1 Point) October 13, 2009 at 11:54 am

    One of those tutorials that anyone can use over and over again and it always be unique in some way.

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    Koji@ ebook cover software (1 Point) September 20, 2009 at 12:08 pm

    Very nice Post! Really love it your post! thank you very much for your Information

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    öğrenme nesneleri (1 Point) August 30, 2009 at 5:16 am

    Thanks David, usefull work for me:)

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    faryal (0 Points) June 25, 2009 at 5:19 pm

    i am using photoshop for the first time and i am facing some problems.As i am beginner, i dnt know how to use brushes properly and how to change brush color.i have read other comments mentioned above but still i did not understand a thing.though u have explained everything nicely but there are some options which i can not find in photoshop.i hope you will soon help me out…


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    George (1 Point) June 18, 2009 at 7:42 am

    Very interesting… thanks.

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    huwaw69 (1 Point) May 3, 2009 at 4:21 am

    Great header design and good art man!

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    Mauro Reyes (1 Point) April 26, 2009 at 12:10 am

    Kudos to you David.

    I stumbled across this wonderful site of yours not too long ago and I can tell you with honesty that it is my favorite place to go to for Photoshop tutorials. Ever since I was about 12 years old I’ve been messing around with photoshop, so it has become a sort of hobby to me. I played with whatever tools caught my interest until I ended up actually knowing what I was doing.

    Now that I’m 21, and with my brother being the founder of a small graphic design company, I feel as though I need to help out. But before I do so, I’m going to have to learn Photoshop from someone who actually knows about it, rather than figuring it out on my own. Already I have learned some tricks I would have never thought of, and the style and layout of Tutorial9′s website is exactly what I’m looking to learn and master.

    I will be going through each tutorial and eagerly waiting for the next one to arrive. Long live Tutorial9. :)

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  31. Add point Subtract point

    Really nice tutorial. Even I could follow it. Thanks.

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  32. Add point Subtract point

    thanks a lot, i´m trying to improve my PS techniques, to got more experience and make better works.

    Greetings from Chile SouthAmerica

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  33. Add point Subtract point

    Hey, thanks, but I found one mistake in your tutorial. You wrote:

    “Let’s throw a new color onto a new layer. I’m going to be using a bright, pale orange, like #fbb85a. I’m also going to adjust the size of my brush to something a bit smaller, like 300px. After painting, I’m going to change the blending mode for this layer to Overlay.”

    But that is incorrect, you need to change blending mode for this layer to LINEAR DODGE! Overlay is coming in the next layer. I’m making my thing and I was like WTF where did my layer dissappeared after I made it Overlay.

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    Marcio Gazetta (1 Point) November 17, 2008 at 2:16 pm

    Wow. Amazing tutorial

    To many time I try this, but the results don´t satisfatory.
    Helped me a lot.

    Thanks for this.

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  35. Add point Subtract point

    When I add the orange circle and set it to overlay it disappears, same with the white highlight, why does it not show up for me?

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  36. Add point Subtract point

    amazing tut, and the result is bery q

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  37. Add point Subtract point

    Hi David,
    Simple but Simply Great, Thanks a lot

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  38. Add point Subtract point

    @Tom: No sweat mate. Glad you got it sorted out over there :)

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  39. Add point Subtract point


    Ha, nevermind, it was my mistake. I had the wrong option selected.

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  40. Add point Subtract point

    Hey, great tutorial, but whenever I set the hardness to 0%, I still get a complete circle and not something that is pictured in your tutorial. Any thoughts?

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  41. Add point Subtract point

    Lovely! Beautiful outcome! Will try it very soon.

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    Bogdan (1 Point) July 25, 2008 at 2:26 am

    Great yet simple to build! Thanks for this nifty tutorial.

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  43. Add point Subtract point
    Matt Strange (1 Point) July 7, 2008 at 1:01 pm

    Always wanted to know how to get that lighting effect, seen it here and there on the web, looks awesome!

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    Edvard (1 Point) June 30, 2008 at 10:24 am

    U guys rock! U turn a simple thing into an incredible piece of art ;)

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  45. Add point Subtract point

    very nice and easy to follow tutorial!

    the lens flare effect can make or break its look though, be careful when you’re doing that part.

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    gladys (1 Point) June 3, 2008 at 12:18 am

    cool tutorial :)

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    datelus (1 Point) May 28, 2008 at 5:33 pm

    You are god! :D
    second awesome tutorial in this night from this site,ive just visited :)
    respect and thanks

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    Hello Melisa,

    I use Adobe Creative Suite 2, which was the latest installment when I purchased it. I’d go give the latest Photoshop a try from, and then consider purchasing anything from CS1 and up (or just a copy of Photoshop alone). To me, there isn’t too much difference between CS1-3 to justify spending the extra cash, unless there is really a feature you like about CS3.

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    melisa (1 Point) May 21, 2008 at 10:02 am

    Hi David,

    This is awesome and quite informative. What Photoshop version did you use here? I’m tempted to have one. I used to study a little Photoshop, but it’s a lower version.

    I’ll take note of your site. I’m still working on my little site. ;)

    Thanks a lot for sharing this. ;)

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  50. Add point Subtract point

    Thanks Ouchast and Steven! I’ll try my best! Your continued support for T9 is greatly appreciated!

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  51. Add point Subtract point
    Steven (2 Points) May 16, 2008 at 10:46 pm

    hey there, ive always loved photoshop and im 17. And all these tutorials are making want more and more from photoshop and from this site. Thank you very much for the good explanations. keep it up David!

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    Ouchast (1 Point) May 16, 2008 at 8:04 am

    I’m going to use this tutorial now. It looks awesome, keep up the good work :)

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  53. Add point Subtract point

    Hey, thanks meline! We’ll keep putting together some awesome tutorials here, but if you’re looking for something specific, I’d suggest you go check out our forums — More specifically, the Graphic Design Support Forums here at Tutorial9.

    Hope you find what you need! Thanks again!

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    meline (2 Points) May 15, 2008 at 3:27 pm

    Hi i enjoyed this tutorial,it’s a grate one ,but can you help me make a precious stone do you have any tutorials ? i searched the web couldn’t fined any i use corel too thanks.

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