Create a Light Painting, Bokeh Effect in Illustrator

Today, we have another Vector tutorial, which is available exclusively for members. Learn how to create light painting effects in Illustrator, with high style and professional results. The key to this

effect are Vector Brushes and Blend Modes.

Tutorial Details
  • Applications Used: Adobe Illustrator CS3
  • Difficulty: Intermediate
  • Estimated Completion Time: 3h +
  • Updated: December 4,2013

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Final Product What You’ll Be Creating

Step 1

We will start by creating a new document 10 x 6 inches, RGB.

Step 2

We will use two kinds of brushes to create the light painting: Art Brushes and Scatter Brushes. The Art Brushes will follow the movement of the light source and the Scatter Brushes will create a Bokeh effect around the light source.

Let’s start with the Art Brushes. The first brush will fade out at the beginning and the end of the path. Make a black Ellipse of any size, it doesn’t have to be perfectly round. With the Convert Anchor Point Tool (Shift + C) hover over the right and left corner, then convert the smooth corners into corners. You will have a sort of almond shape now. Reduce the height of the shape.

Note: when you create the Brush, the height of the shape will define the stroke width. The height of the shape will be 1pt in stroke width.

So because we want a small brush, which makes it easier to adjust the Stroke Width later on, we reduce until it looks good. You don’t have to be precise.

Step 3

Duplicate this shape and make the new shape smaller – both in height and length, but it doesn’t have to be proportional. Select the bigger shape and reduce its Opacity to 0%. With both shapes selected go to Object > Blend > Make Blend. Depending on your settings you get a different result now. Go to Object > Blend > Blend Options and choose Specified Steps, then enter 16.

Step 4

With the Blend selected, create a new Art Brush. The only setting you’ll have to change is to change the Method to Tints. This will allow us to apply colors to the Brush later.

Step 5

The second Brush will be the main light, so it will be of the same width at all ends. For this create a Rectangle that is 6 x 0.2 inches. Go to Effect > Stylize > Round Corners and set the Radius to 0.1 inch.

Go to Object > Expand Appearance and ungroup the object. Duplicate the shape and make the new shape smaller. Again, it does not have to be proportional, if it’s a little uneven it will look nicer later on. Like with the first Brush, lower the bigger shape’s Opacity to 0%, select both shapes and make a Blend.

…and that’s the end of the preview!

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