How To Add Lightsaber Blades to Photos in Adobe Photoshop

A not so long time ago in a galaxy quite close by… Another movie in the popular Star Wars franchise is almost here, and it’s the perfect time to learn to recreate the Jedi knights’ legendary weapon in Photoshop!

Woman holding lightsabre

There are many ways to accomplish this but we’ll be using a very quick and simple way that gives nice looking results nevertheless. This one is done with brushes, layers and layer masks and other the basic tools. I’m using Windows version of Photoshop CC 19.0.

First we’ll need the image in which to add the lightsaber. Since I didn’t happen to have a photo of a model holding a real life lightsaber, I chose this funny image of a woman holding a rolling pin. After basic exposure correction and white balance adjustments in Lightroom I opened the image in Photoshop.

First task is to remove old "blade". This can be done with clone stamp (S), patch (J) and other basic tools. Pay extra attention on the edges of the fingers.

Since I wanted to bring a bit more “realism” to the image, I took an old lightsaber handle I had modeled in Blender. You can do without one; especially if in your starting image the model is holding a real sword with the hilt visible. Alternatively, you can argue that the hilt is covered by the hands and don’t necessarily even need to add one at all.

I placed this sword hilt on a new layer, adjusted the size and rotation to match the position and the size of the hands. I created a new layer mask, and masked the part of the hilt that is behind the fingers. I took some extra time around the edges to make sure the fingers look neat. I used a soft brush and constantly went to smaller size to make the edges perfect.

Now comes the fun part, making the blade itself! Select the brush tool (B), make the brush size appropriate for your saber, and select a very light hue of the color you want for your saber. Make the brush hardness around 25%. Then click on the beginning of the blade, press and hold shift key and click on the end of the blade.

Next, double click on the layer icon to access layer styles on the blade layer, and select outer glow. Choose the color of the glow, adjust the settings as you like and change the blending mode to “screen”.

Add a layer mask on the blade layer, and with the black brush (B) adjust the mask so the hilt isn’t covered by the blade. Again, use a soft brush to put in the finishing touches. The blade is now complete.

If you want, you can stop right there. However, it is a light saber so it would make sense for the blade to shine some light on the hands and face of the model.

I created another new layer and added a radial gradient with the same color as the blade itself. I changed the layer opacity to around 50% and moved the gradient to a better location, then added a layer mask and masked the parts of the gradient I didn’t want to see, leaving the light glowing on the hands and the face. You can spend a lot of time making sure the lights are “realistic”, or you can do like I did and do it quick. Finish up the image however you like.

That’s it! Hopefully you had fun drawing your light saber and maybe you even learned a new trick or two. May the force be with you!

Photo credits: Klodvig.

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The Force will be with you. Always !

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