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Awesome Lens Flare Tutorial

If you've ever used the default lens flare plugin you know it's limitations. One flare type, no control over the flare brightness, etc... But no more will you be laughed at when people call you out on it. In this tutorial learn how to make some basic but cool anamorphic lens flares.



And now the written tutorial.

1. Open a new image, the width will be twice as much as the height. It should be as tall as the picture you are adding the flare to. Fill it with black and place a white circle in the middle.


2. Duplicate the layer once, set the blend mode on 'Screen', and duplicate it 2 more times.


3. Starting with the bottom layer we are going to Gaussian Blur the first 3 layers with each layer having a higher blur than the last. I ended up using 35, 70, and 140. This gives us a nice glow.

  
 
 4. The top 2 layers are also going to be blurred, but only horizontally. I used 600 for the top layer and 300 for the glow layer.


5. This left the light streak and glow very weak, so open Levels and move the white triangle slider to the left to make the brighten it up. Do this for both layers.


6. Now we'll blur the streak layer again on both Axises, we don't want a strong blur, we just want to soften the edges. I used 25.


7. This is looking really good. Merge the layers together, then duplicate layer. Use the Scale tool and make this layer half the height of the image. Center the layer using the Align tool and set the blend mode on 'Screen' and merge the layers together.


 8.Open the image you want to add the flare to. I borrowed this from Dreamstime.com


9. Click and drag the layer from the Layers tab into our picture. Set the blend mode on 'Screen'.


10. Place the flare over your light source. Resize it if you have to. Now comes the fun part where you customize the flare. Add smaller light streaks at different angles, add more glow, whatever you think looks good. As long as the flares in the same picture look alike nobody can tell if they're fake. Before you merge these layers together create a black layer below them, then merge.


 11. Set the layer back on 'Screen'. Now we get to color it. Color Balance, Levels, Curves, Colorize, use whatever you want, whatever color you want.



And you're done! You just created an awesome anamorphic lens flare in Gimp! Now this is just the basics, there are many other things you could add to it, dirty lens textures, halos, hexagons, to name just a few. Heck, you can even use this with the Gimp Lens Flare plugins to spice things up. Also looking at pictures of lens flares is a good way to help you learn what you could add to your flares. Any way I hope you enjoyed my tutorial, sharing it would mean a lot to me.

See you next time!

Download the project files: http://www.mediafire.com/download/dyle2d2ch3np3d7/Lens_Flare_Gimp_Projects.zip

Grainy texture pack: http://blog.spoongraphics.co.uk/freebies/free-grittygrainy-texture-pack-for-adobe-photoshop

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