How do I draw "Rays" emitting from an object in an image in Photoshop?

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Example from http://www.pxleyes.com

  • 2
    drawing the shape of one ray and giving it a gradient should works.
    – Jichao
    Commented Jan 25, 2011 at 17:25

3 Answers 3


Quick & dirty method

Use readily available custom shape, which has been included in the installation since probably CS 1 — maybe even before that. I didn't realize its powers at first, mainly because the small thumbnail is distorted with a heavy moiré pattern (here highlighted):

"ray" shape

Just draw that shape behind the object you want to "emit rays". Here are the shape's path highlighted so you could have a better look how does it really look like; and the final result of the mockup.

pentagon emitting rays enter image description here

The custom shape has many limitations, sure, but it is the quickest method with a vanilla installation of Photoshop.

More unique method

Pick up the pen tool and draw a shape like:

a ray

This would be one of your rays. Copy it, modify them if you wish and rotate them, so they all are pointing into one spot. While this isn't too hard, it takes considerably more time than the first method, especially if you are approaching the deadline.

The fading of the rays could be achieved with a layer mask, which you could e.g. fill with a radial gradient.

  • 5
    If you're going to go the ray-by-ray approach, it helps if you start with a vertical or horizontal ray (so you can get the proportions and angles right), do one transform, then use Ctrl+Shift+Alt+T to automatically duplicate the layer and replay the transform. It should only take you a minute or two to get all of the rays. Commented Jan 28, 2011 at 3:07

Here's my way...


Prepare an empty layer. Draw a rectangular marquee across the half of the layer. (like on the image above).

enter image description here

Fill that selection with your desired ray color.

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Select Filter > Distort > Wave. Select the Square type and adjust the wavelength to increase/decrease bars (max and min the same value). Apply.

enter image description here

Select Filter > Distort > Polar Coordinates. Select 'Rectangular to Polar'.

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Modify your generated rays. You're done. =]


There are many ways to draw sunbursts in Photoshop and Illustrator. But this is by far the slickest.

  • 3
    Please don't simply link to another website; actually answer the question and include the link to support the answer. Commented Jan 31, 2011 at 19:20
  • 2
    I did answer the question. If you actually view the links, you'd see that it'd be impractical (also pointless) for me to duplicate their content in this answer. This is a Q&A site, not a site for aggregating tutorials. Commented Feb 4, 2011 at 8:17
  • 4
    Your first link is dead. Good thing you didn't pointlessly duplicate the technique here.
    – Dillon
    Commented Jun 12, 2014 at 17:35
  • it's 2022, both your links are useless now.
    – Partack
    Commented Sep 11, 2022 at 19:12

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