I'm looking to do a similar text effect to this

enter image description here

I haven't used Photoshop in a while for this sort of thing.

  • 7
    I believe that may be a photographic technique called light painting. Though I'm sure something similar is achievable in photoshop. I could be wrong though, but that's what it looks like to me. The way I would handle this though is I would find some suitable text edit it a little bit to get the look I want, find some quality stock imagery of sparks and blend those into the text. Also play with the layer style of the base text a bit, blend in the highlights in the snow with a soft brush. Jul 21, 2011 at 8:59
  • @luckycypher: You need to add your comment as an answer so that we can vote it up and you gain the reputation you deserve. Jul 21, 2011 at 9:35
  • Thanks I'll look into that. I have seen light paintings. It's similar for sure. The sparks idea is a good one, I'll try that. I'm open to other suggestions too :)
    – user1982
    Jul 21, 2011 at 10:03
  • @regan Thanks i'll do that. At first I was just going to comment on the light painting but I guess I got carried away :P. Good Luck user1982! Jul 21, 2011 at 10:06

5 Answers 5


I believe that may be a photographic technique called light painting. Though I'm sure something similar is achievable in photoshop. I could be wrong though, but that's what it looks like to me.

The way I would handle this though is I would find some suitable text edit it a little bit to get the look I want, find some quality stock imagery of sparks and blend those into the text. Also play with the layer style of the base text a bit, blend in the highlights in the snow with a soft brush.


Luckycypher's right - this is light painting. The technique involves holding the shutter of the camera open while you run around with a light source (and various bystanders look on with amusement).

This tutorial:


shows a pretty good method for creating this look. The glowing effect is done using layer effects; to actually give it the realistic uneven look they suggest using brush strokes first. Personally, I'd either find a font that's a little uneven or create paths in Illustrator, import them into Photoshop and stroke them in Photoshop. Luckycypher's suggestion of using stock images of sparks is a good one, too - place them at points where there may have been hesitation on the part of the painter (such as points where they had to return back over their "stroke" path). This is a fairly popular technique and there are some folks who are really, really good at light painting; I'd look around to see other examples as inspiration.


The image was created with sparklers and a camera, not in Photoshop, but you can create something like the effect.

The tutorial lawndartcatcher refers to is good. Deke McLelland (as Irish as they get over here ) also has a great video here.

As I always say at the start of one of these, there are lots of ways to do this in Photoshop. Here's one take on it, as promised:

Start with your text, and give it dual effects: an orange color overlay and a yellow inner glow. Set the glow to Center, the contour, range, jitter and noise to taste. I used these settings:

Inner glow settings

Here's the text at this stage:

the base text layer

Make the text layer a Smart Object and then copy it.

On the copy layer, open the Filter Gallery and apply the Sprayed Strokes effect to roughen up the inner glow like this (don't click OK yet):

inner glow with sprayed strokes

Add a new filter (the new filter icon is at the bottom right of the panel, by the trash can), and make that Glass. Adjust to get something like this:

Glass filter added

Change the Blend Mode of this layer to Lighter Color.

Take a small, soft-edge brush, with brush size controlled by pen pressure if you've a Wacom, or set to Fade if not. Set the foreground color to yellow, add a new layer, and place some random spots around the letters. Don't worry too much about being precise.

spots that will become glowing smoke

Convert this layer to a Smart Object. Ctrl/Cmd-click on the text layer icon in the Layers panel to create a selection in the shape of the text.

Press Q to enter Quick Mask mode, and give the mask a Gaussian blur of about 5 to 10 pixels: enough to see a bit of a halo around the letters. Press Q again to exit Quick Mask.

Choose Select > Modify > Expand Selection, enter 10 into the field and click OK. Your text should look roughly like this:

selection active

Make sure that you are still targeting the "spots" layer, and click the Layer Mask icon, 3rd from the left at the bottom of the Layers Panel. You now have a layer mask that limits the "spots" to the vicinity of the letters.

mask added

Using a black hard-edge brush on the layer mask, get rid of any painted bits below the baseline of the text, then add an Inner Glow. Set the color to orange (around 50 hue, full saturation and brightness), the Blend Mode to Color Burn, Source to Center. Note my settings for Choke, Contour, Range and Jitter. You don't have to stick with these; they will depend on your particular image.

enter image description here

Still on the "spots" layer, add a Ripple filter (Filter > Distort > Ripple) to remove the roundness of the spots and make them look a bit more random:

ripple filter applied

I added a bit of motion blur for a smokier effect:

motion blur applied

To increase the effect, duplicate this layer one or two times. Take a soft black brush and paint on the Layer Masks of different layers to add texture to the "smoke and flame," to end up with something like this:

final image

As with Deke's example, the text is editable. Just open the Smart Object, change the text and both layers update. You will, however, have to change any "smoke and flame" layers.


This is a sparklers text effect used mostly for new year images

To create this effect try the Sparklers Photoshop Action. You can also create animated sparklers Gifs with this action

  • The linked tutorial article and the linked purchasable PSD files with layers styles do indeed directly address OP's question, however, here at GDSE we prefer links to be used for reference or to hold resources, and for the main meat of an answer to be in the body you post as an answerer - both for clarity/searchability and because links are notoriously fickle - what's up on the web today may not be next week. Please consider fleshing out your answer with more actual relevant details - thanks and welcome to GDSE! Jan 7, 2019 at 22:22
  • @GerardFalla, sometimes it's not feasible to include anything else in the answer. You can't upload atn files here plus it would be wrong to do that anyways since it's not a free action. I'd like to see you improve this question in a meaningful way that satisfies your no link policy.
    – Joonas
    Jan 9, 2019 at 6:19
  • @Joonas - the OP's question doesn't need any improvement to somehow encourage more complete answers: all questions are implicitly requests for complete and thorough answers! BTW - it's not my personal policy, it's a GDSE preference: "...Always quote the most relevant part of an important link, in case the target site is unreachable or goes permanently offline..." quoted from the How to Answer area. For myself, I find one can usually answer with sufficient details, and also use reference or resource links where appropriate with a modicum of effort. Jan 9, 2019 at 16:22
  • @GerardFalla, policy or not, you are asking for something that is impossible when it comes to this type of answer. It's a good general guideline, but it simply can't always be followed. I would argue a policy shouldn't be enforced if it doesn't make any sense in case by case basis. Sorta like those weird old laws that exist everywhere that people just ignore.
    – Joonas
    Jan 9, 2019 at 18:26
  • @Joonas let's continue this in Graphic Design Chat Jan 9, 2019 at 18:57

Photoshop hasn't especially good tools for it. Use Illustrator CC or Affinity designer which both allow you to use photos as brushes. See for ex. this tutorial: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f1oi5ltuUnE Illustrator CC allows using the colors of the photo as is. Affinity Designer allows only colored BW image brushes.

You need a trace of a sparkler as a straight horizontal line. I haven't found a free such photo in high quality, but you can make one. Assemble a sparkler firmly in front of a black background and take a photo with a camera with small aperture and long exposure. You need a proper camera with manual settings. In addition you must have a good video stative to turn the camera horizontally. Do not expect you can move the sparkler in your hand.

If you have a good photo, prepare it in Photoshop as it's guided in the tutorial. You must remove the background, so it must be dark and large enough. You can make a layer mask from the photo itself and apply it to remove the background. That needs a quite distant black background to keep it black also in the image.

Place the image to Illustrator and make it a pattern brush. Then draw what you want.

Here's an example. It's in Affinity designer:

enter image description here

It's a freehand drawing with mouse and image brush. Actually there's two brushes; one for long strokes and one for dots. The latter is applied to separate extra dots at startings and endings. There's no steep corners, all numbers are drawn as 2 long parts + ending dots.

It has some weaknesses, which reduce the plausibility:

  • far too low resolution photo has been used, finest sparks have vanished
  • generally the sparky areas should be wider and have bigger sparks, now there are too fuzzy dots and random curves
  • single hue color, can be partially fixed with glow effect. Ai makes this better because original colors can be used.

These weaknesses are not so severe if the sparkler writing is only a part of a bigger image, a part of something that catch the attention and can be loved or hated, no matter how high is the quality of the sparkler effect. An example:

enter image description here

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