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Achieve Wave Distortion light effect with less white.


I'm trying to achieve a light effect using gradients and the Wave Distortion filter to achieve something like the following:

However, I can't seem to figure how to get this effect. I seem to keep ending up with something that is too white, and the color is too washed out:


Could someone provide some guidance as to how I can achieve the desired effect?



Staff member
Open a document.

Create a BG.

Create a new layer.

Set up a horizontal guideline.

Use your brush Tool to create a row of different sized round brush strokes.
Screen Shot 2019-02-10 at 10.27.33 PM.png

Use free transform...............Cmd/Cntrl + T
Screen Shot 2019-02-10 at 10.27.40 PM.png

Hold the Opt/Alt key and drag the upper middle control handle upwards.
(You may have to expand your view........Cmd/Cntrl + the minus sigh key.)
Screen Shot 2019-02-10 at 10.28.06 PM.png

When you have stretched it enough, hit OK.
Screen Shot 2019-02-10 at 10.29.03 PM.png

Convert this layer in to a smart object.
Add a Gaussian Smart fliter. Adjust to taste. This is editable.

Set the layers blending mode to overlay.
Lower the opacity to 80%
Screen Shot 2019-02-10 at 10.29.34 PM.png

If you want some portion of the effect brighter than the other, duplicate the layer, add a layer mask, then use the Gradient Tool to adjust on the layer mask.
Screen Shot 2019-02-10 at 10.30.12 PM.png
Screen Shot 2019-02-10 at 10.41.40 PM.png


Staff member
You can also group the layers of the effect, add a layer mask, use the Gradient Tool to soften the edges.
You can also add a layer style with an outer glow effect.
Screen Shot 2019-02-10 at 10.50.40 PM.png

Screen Shot 2019-02-10 at 10.47.45 PM.png
Wow! Thank you IamSam.

I didn't even think to stretch a row of white dots and work from there. Assumed the wave distortion method was the only way to do this.

It looks great, thanks again for your input!