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Energize Your Graphics with Abstract Energy Lines

In this tutorial, I’ll show you how to create some energetic lines you can use to create more lively digital creations. Effects such as this are great for enhancing abstract compositions!

What We’re Making

A preview of the effect we’re going to create in this tutorial can be seen in the back of this graphic:

Tutorial Preview

The purpose of this tutorial is not to actually recreate this exact graphic, but rather show you how to add similar lines into your own compositions. For this reason, I’m not going to explain how to design this specific background, but you are free to download the background here if you’d like to follow using our example.

Step 1 – Start with a Flare

Create a new Layer.

First, we’ll create a large, bright flare where our lines will sprawl out of. Using a large, soft brush (0% hardness, 100-200px, or greater for large documents), and a white foreground color, dab a bit somewhere in your document as a starting point for your lines.

Set this layer to Overlay. If need be, duplicate this layer several times to get a more intense effect. Here is the flare after 3 duplicate layers:

Flare effect

Step 2 – Adding Some White Lines

Create a new layer above your flare. Still using a white foreground color, set your brush size to 1-2px, and your brush hardness to 100%.

Plan out a path for your lines. Decide which direction you want your lines to flow, how many sets (directions) you want your lines to flow in, and how you want your lines to interact with any subjects you may have in your composition. I want to have 3 groups of lines, two shooting upward out of my flare, and one coming out the bottom as if the flare fuses those groups together.

Now, making quick, smooth strokes (a Graphics Tablet really can help), draw your groups of lines into your new layer (Video Below). With a mouse, you need to be sure to make fast flicks to create a smooth looking line. Alternatively, you can create dozens of paths with the pen tool, and then stroke those paths with a 1-2px white brush. This approach will almost alway look better, but is more time consuming.

White lines added to the document

Here’s a quick demonstration video:

Step 3 – Adding More Lines

Continue to build upon your lines with additional colors as you see fit. Try to choose colors which compliment the other colors in your image, or are similar to the colors used in your graphic. Yellow is a nice complimentary color for blue, so I’ll add some extra yellow lines.

Add Yellow Lines

Step 4 – Scribbles

Create a new Layer.

Using a 1px, 100% hard, white brush, draw in some scribbles that closely follow your line work completed in steps 2 and 3. Add some extra scribbles that shoot out further than the rest near your flare, as if it is filled with electrical energy (you’ve gotta love the terms I’m using to describe such things in this article by now, but really, thinking of ways to compare your linework to real world examples can help you put your ideas to paper).

Scribbles Added

Step 5 – Add Depth with a Shadow

Duplicate the layer of white lines, and move the layer underneath your flare layers. Apply a Gaussian Blur with a radius of 5-10px. Change the color from White to Black by going to Image > Adjustments > Invert.

Use Shadows to add Depth

Using a shadow is a great way to create an illusion of depth in a graphic. After applying your shadow, the lines and flare should appear to pop forward a bit from the canvas.

Step 6 – Adding a Vibrant Blur

While holding Ctrl, select every line layer and flare layer you’ve created so far. Once every layer is selected in your layers palette, right click one of the selected layers, and choose to Duplicate layers (or Layer > Duplicate Layers).

You should now see a group of layers above your layers you just duplicated (all still selected). Merge these layers (Ctrl + E, or Layer > Merge Layers).

Set this new layer to Overlay. Apply a Guassian Blur with a radius of 10-20px.

Adding a Vibrant Blur

This will simply five your lines a more ambient light feel, as if they are actually glowing a bit.

Step 7 – Adding Sparks

On a new layer, using a 1px, hard, white brush, paint in some small sparks (just quick dabs of paint), which increase in number as they approach closer to the flare and lines.

Energetic Sparks

Wrapping Things Up

That’s really all there is too creating this sort of effect. The real creativity is not in the effect itself, but how you tie it into your design work. You can use the lines to wrap around objects in your compositions (would require some extra work with the eraser or masking), to direct attention to different parts of an image, or even use the lines to frame something.

Final Example of Energy Lines

As usual, you can grab the PSD that shows how we created our graphic shown in this tutorial if you’re having any trouble with the effect on your own!


  1. Add point Subtract point
    Ifeanyi (0 Points) February 10, 2011 at 12:22 pm

    awesome tut, thanks for sharing

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  2. Add point Subtract point
    cbritton (4 Points) January 13, 2011 at 1:19 pm

    How do you make the LARCY thing??

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  3. Add point Subtract point
    โหลดเพลงฟรี (0 Points) October 1, 2010 at 3:37 am

    thank you for good tutorial

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  4. Add point Subtract point

    I don’t understand at all….its not detailed enough for me

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  5. Add point Subtract point
    Andy (2 Points) July 13, 2010 at 8:13 am

    nice! thanks for sharing.

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  6. Add point Subtract point
    jonathan (0 Points) June 15, 2010 at 3:37 am

    how is great but i want the video so i can see the concept

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  7. Add point Subtract point
    โหลดเพลง mp3 (1 Point) June 9, 2010 at 5:11 am

    yeah it’s that i want

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  8. Add point Subtract point
    Phantasia (2 Points) April 1, 2010 at 12:30 am

    its worth spending hours on your tuts
    thank you very much for sharing :)

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  9. Add point Subtract point
    โหลดเพลง (1 Point) March 29, 2010 at 10:41 am

    Fantastic tip. Thank you for your share.

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  10. Add point Subtract point

    beautiful!! thinks a million.

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  11. Add point Subtract point
    เพลงใหม่ล่าสุด (1 Point) February 2, 2010 at 11:31 pm

    great tutorial . Thanks523

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    เพลงใหม่ล่าสุด (1 Point) February 2, 2010 at 12:26 am

    great tutorial . Thanks516

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  13. Add point Subtract point
    เพลงใหม่ล่าสุด (1 Point) February 1, 2010 at 2:22 am

    great tutorial . Thanks511

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  14. Add point Subtract point
    โหลดเพลงฟรี (1 Point) January 30, 2010 at 10:33 am

    wow thanks so much.

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  15. Add point Subtract point
    Alejandro (2 Points) January 27, 2010 at 10:31 pm

    Great tutorial!
    can you tell whats the name of the font?

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  16. Add point Subtract point

    wow epic tutorial another epic win 4 u!!!!

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  17. Add point Subtract point
    Accounting Teacher (1 Point) October 24, 2009 at 9:43 am

    step one is not descriptive

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  18. Add point Subtract point

    Amazing tut!
    I think someone before asked about how you managed to make the font 3D but I couldn’t seem to find your reply so could you please post again.

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  19. Add point Subtract point
    hossein (1 Point) July 2, 2009 at 2:09 am dear. this tutorial is very best.thank you so much.

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  20. Add point Subtract point
    huwaw69 (1 Point) May 3, 2009 at 3:48 am

    This is so energetic, and vibrant!

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  21. Add point Subtract point
    Robert (1 Point) April 10, 2009 at 8:44 pm

    Hey awesome tut but i was just wondering where do you get the text from because i have looked every where for it and cant seem to find it

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    shine (1 Point) April 8, 2009 at 1:52 am

    awesome,it was the best tutorial and do u hav some tut for pen tool in ps

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  23. Add point Subtract point

    You don’t need a video, have a play based on what you can see, that is often the best way to learn and you may find a technique you prefer.

    Great tutorial tut9.


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  24. Add point Subtract point
    lawrence77 (0 Points) March 20, 2009 at 2:23 pm

    where is the video? :(

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  25. Add point Subtract point

    really nice tutorial. this is really usefull

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  26. Add point Subtract point

    Hello David, i love a lot of your tuts, but i got alittle problem in browsing…i do believe that the signal i received is low, so would mind share your all ur photoshop tuts in pdf format through my email…? i’m newbie totally
    thanks for sharing
    from sius nias island, northsumatera-indonesia

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  27. Add point Subtract point
    Abzahead (1 Point) February 22, 2009 at 1:21 pm

    dude great website… love your tutorials

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  28. Add point Subtract point
    Arama Motoru Optimizasyonu (1 Point) February 17, 2009 at 6:53 pm

    Thanks for sharing this very informative and helpful information.

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  29. Add point Subtract point

    Hey, this is cool but where can i get the two fonts used from?

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  30. Add point Subtract point
    photoshopper (1 Point) January 18, 2009 at 7:02 pm

    Very nice effect! keep up the good work!

    One small problem, I can’t seem to open te link for the PSD,
    It just gives some weird text?


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  31. Add point Subtract point

    My advice if things aren’t turning out well is to just keep toying with the settings and blending modes.

    There is a great deal to learn when it comes to all the blending modes, lighting, etc – so much that it can’t be effectively demonstrated in a tutorial like this. I hope you get things working though!

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  32. Add point Subtract point

    This was really easy to follow, and came out looking awesome, but I just had one small problem…
    My flare didn’t come out well, and you can see the lines on top of it, and… yeah, did I do something wrong?

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  33. Add point Subtract point

    Original drawing is always make perfect

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  34. Add point Subtract point
    Graviron (1 Point) October 6, 2008 at 2:24 pm

    dude, that’s an awesome tech! btw, may I know what type of font were you using on that “Energy” word? the one so large? tx!

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  35. Add point Subtract point
    NetOperator Wibby (1 Point) October 4, 2008 at 2:42 am

    I like that you actually only did the recreation of the lines and not the whole tutorial. I sometimes have to sift through the steps to get the technique that I want. Great site btw. ;)

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  36. Add point Subtract point

    Is the “LARGY” lettering an actual font on adobe photoshop and what is it called?
    thanks great design

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  37. Add point Subtract point
    Stephen Leung (1 Point) September 27, 2008 at 12:26 pm

    This is mine, turned it into a poster though I think yours is so much better than mine.

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  38. Add point Subtract point

    Thanks for great work and inspiration! Based on your tutorial I made somethink like this (this is IT poster background)

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  39. Add point Subtract point
    Stephen Leung (1 Point) September 4, 2008 at 10:18 am

    Hey I loved your tutorial, I would like to ask you David if you could tell me how you made a 3D effect on that type of font (which is RNS Bobo Dylan) into the picture, because I really think it adds emphasis and I really would like to know.

    Hope you answer this =D btw loved your tutorials

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  40. Add point Subtract point
    Pramod, Nepal (1 Point) August 16, 2008 at 4:41 am

    it looks great ! an awesome design to look at.

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  41. Add point Subtract point
    renjith (1 Point) August 12, 2008 at 9:42 pm

    a hundred thanks….a brilliant design. i used it in my design work for a tech fest brochure and looks awesome…once again thanks to all at tuts9…..

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  42. Add point Subtract point

    @Joran: Glad you got things figured out mate. Sorry if I was late getting an answer to ya!

    @Tyler Bramer: As usual, you do a great job of applying the effects I try to show in unique ways :)

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  43. Add point Subtract point

    Already found it, but again.. a big thanks. Keep them coming!

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  44. Add point Subtract point

    That would be RNS Bobo Dylan. You can grab it here:

    Hope that helps mate! Thanks!

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  45. Add point Subtract point

    Great tutorial you made there David!
    Is it possible to tell me the font you used afterwards?

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  46. Add point Subtract point

    This helped me so much. Thank you very much. Looks awesome =]

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  47. Add point Subtract point

    Nice tutorial! Actually explained everything, most tutorials miss a bunch of steps. I used it to make this:

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  48. Add point Subtract point

    Thanks everyone! Glad so many of you found it enjoyable!

    @ Tom Ross – You’ve got a great thing going over at PSDFan mate! Please keep us updated with your progress over there.

    @ Jana – I’m not sure where you’re referring to? Did I miss a step somewhere?

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  49. Add point Subtract point
    Jayjay402 (1 Point) July 25, 2008 at 4:36 am

    That is awesome! =]


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  50. Add point Subtract point
    Gaurav_M (1 Point) July 10, 2008 at 5:19 am

    Thanks 4 sharing… Nice. :)

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  51. Add point Subtract point

    amazing! though for a brainiac like me I think you should mention making new layers if you’re adding more color, if that was the case lol

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  52. Add point Subtract point

    thanks for the help man

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  53. Add point Subtract point
    Tom Ross (1 Point) June 22, 2008 at 1:09 pm

    @David – Thanks :) I’d love to collaborate or help one another out when PSDFan launches if you were ever interested. You’ve got yourself 1 more keen reader anyway!

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    @ ngoc hai – If it’s making everything too bright, try turning down the opacity of the blur layer. If you let me know exactly what it looks like, I may be able to assist you more.

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    ngoc hai (1 Point) June 22, 2008 at 10:55 am

    Hi David I have a problem. In Step 6 – Adding a Vibrant Blur I can’t do it. My result is not like it . Can you give me more infomation?? Thanks, waiting your reply

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  56. Add point Subtract point

    You can’t create a lens flare on an empty layer. This tutorial has you use a large brush to create a look just like a lens flare. You aren’t actually going to Filter > Render > Lens Flare.

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  57. Add point Subtract point

    im having trouble. i can apply the lens flare to the original backround but when i make a nu layer and try to apply the lens flare to the nu layer i get a message saying(could not complete the lens flare command because of a program error) it does this for all the filters.

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  58. Add point Subtract point

    Great Tut!!! Love the use of the video, really helps. Cheers for taking the time buddy!!!

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  59. Add point Subtract point
    Tyler Durden (1 Point) June 20, 2008 at 1:34 am

    another beautiful tut from you guys man i am loving this site more an more

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  60. Add point Subtract point
    RUGRLN (1 Point) June 20, 2008 at 1:24 am

    Nice but I suck at the mouse, my mouse even though new doesn’t work too well on all surface regardless being laser,s o it’s gna be hard to make them, maybe the pen tool could fair better!

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  61. Add point Subtract point
    antonwoods (1 Point) June 20, 2008 at 12:33 am

    nice one david, thats two good tutorials thats been to a higher level ive enjoyed! Cant wait to see what else you’ve got up your sleve!

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  62. Add point Subtract point
    Eric Brant (1 Point) June 19, 2008 at 6:09 pm

    Like I’ve said before, nice job!

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  63. Add point Subtract point

    Great effect, simple process, and an overall good finish. This should help spice things up.

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  64. Add point Subtract point

    Oh, and BTW, I think everyone should have a graphics tablet. If you dont want to spend money, you can try out the Wacom Bamboo Fun. Its cheap, and works great. I use it all the time.

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  65. Add point Subtract point

    This is one of my favorite tutorials, because it explains something we can use in our own work, while not showing us some generic poster tutorial or some tool explanation either.

    Thank you.

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  66. Add point Subtract point
    bl4kdev1l (2 Points) June 19, 2008 at 12:26 pm

    WOW this is son COOL!!!!!

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  67. Add point Subtract point

    @ Metalzoa – I think you may have meant another step, as I can’t find the overlay part you’re referring too. The lines use a “Normal” blending mode just to be clear about that. Does that answer your question, or are we looking at different things?

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  68. Add point Subtract point
    Metalzoa (0 Points) June 19, 2008 at 11:49 am

    At step three the extra colors stand out instead of blending in. I used Overlay and it seemed to blend in perfectly. Safe to assume you meant to add overlay on that layer?

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  69. Add point Subtract point

    @ Ahmed Kachkach – Well, it’s very possible to do without a tablet. If you’re having trouble with making clean strokes with your mouse, you could try the alternative way I mentioned above (using paths, and then stroking the paths with a small hard brush).

    Really and truly, that’s a better way of going about it in the first place. It’s just much more time consuming, and doesn’t create too much of a difference in smaller documents.

    Not exactly a perfect tutorial for what I’m suggesting, but our Creating Holiday Wreaths Tutorial has a bit about the technique I’m talking about.

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  70. Add point Subtract point

    @ Tom – Thanks! It’s really nice to hear things like that Tom! I’ve seen you around here before, and have been to your blog several times now. Just saw you’re working on PSDFan. Hope that comes along well!

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  71. Add point Subtract point
    Ahmed Kachkach (1 Point) June 19, 2008 at 10:53 am

    Really good tutotrial, as used to :-p

    But this one is a little inacessible to those who don’t have a Graphic Tablet !

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  72. Add point Subtract point
    Tom Ross (1 Point) June 19, 2008 at 10:46 am

    Very simple but effective technique. I’ve been following your tuts for a while now David, and have to say I’m really impressed. Keep up the great work! :)

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  73. Add point Subtract point

    Always a pleasure FBdesign :) Glad you enjoyed it!

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  74. Add point Subtract point
    FBdesign (1 Point) June 19, 2008 at 10:30 am

    thx 4 sharing !!

    luv it !!!!

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