Starburst Effects When it comes to impact and relative simplicity, it is very hard to beat a skilfully composed starburst effect

. Used by the advertising industry for decades, they are surprisingly eye-catching, and can make totally mundane objects appear much more enticing. There are, of course, several different methods for creating these effects. For the sake of this tutorial, however, I will cover the two most popular techniques, used to create hard-edged and soft-edged starbursts, respectively. Hard-Edged Starbursts

Step 1: Create a new document of a suitable size with a default white-filled background. Try to stick to square dimensions (i.e. 300px by 300px) as they will yield the best results. You can always crop the image later if you desire. Add a new transparent layer on top of the background and make it active. Then, using the Rectangular Marquee Tool, select several vertical rectangular areas across the layer and Edit > Fill them with a colour of your choice (in this case I chose #6988B5). You should end up with something that resembles my image on the left. It isn't important to copy the same pattern, so just use your own creativity in the end, it all adds to the uniqueness of the effect.

Step 2: Now all you have to do is run Filter > Distort > Polar Coordinates with the 'Rectangular to Polar' option selected, and press OK. And there you go - a very simple hard-edged starburst effect. This technique yields a very distinctive and attractive burst effect with an almost cartoon-like quality. Due to the distortion of the source lines, however, fuzziness and pixellation also creeps in, which must be subsequently dealt with by antialiasing techniques, or image size reduction. Soft-Edged Starbursts

Step 1: Create a brand new document of a suitable size with a single background layer. Try to stick to square dimensions (i.e. 300px by 300px) as they will yield the best results. You can always crop the image later if you desire. Then, after selecting two similar colours as the background and foreground colours (I chose #6988B5 and #F9F9F9 respectively), draw a vertical gradient across the background layer using the gradient tool.

Step 2: Run Filter > Distort > Wave from the main menu and enter the settings on the left into the dialog box that pops up. Press OK.

Step 3: Go to Filter > Distort > Polar Coordinates, ensure the 'Rectangular to Polar' setting is selected, and press OK to view the final effect. Unlike the hard-edged starburst, this comparative effect is much more gentle, and won't give people a migraine. You may need to play around with the Hue & Saturation, however, to make the colours fit your project a little better.

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