Lightning Effect

Create a new document (File > New> Blank File in Photoshop with the following settings

Width: 200 pixels
Height: 600 pixels
Resolution: 72 pixels/inch
Color Mode: RGB Color | 8 bit
Background Contents: White

Draw a gradient, that looks something like the picture below, using the Gradient Tool Gradient Tool with your color foreground colors set to black and white Black Foreground Color. To get this effect simply click in the center of the document on the left side and while holding down the left mouse button drag a line across to the right side as shown below on the left. The picture on the right is how is should look after you unclick your left mouse button:

Drag Gradient Gradient

The next step is to apply the filter Different Clouds by clicking Filter > Render > Differentiate Clouds. Once you have applied the filter it should look like the picture on your right:

Filter Sky Gradient

The next step is to Invert the image by hitting the shortcut Ctrl + I on your keyboard.

Adjust the picture’s levels by creating a level's adjustment layer. Click on the adjustment layer button on the layers palette and select levels from the drop down option:

Adjustment Layer

Drag the middle slider all the way to the right.

Levels

The final step is to color the lightning, this can be done by adjusting the picture’s Hue/Saturation (Enhance > Adjust Color > Hue/Saturation):

Enhance Image

Make sure colorize is checked. These are the settings I used:

Hue and Saturation

Here is my finished product:

Lightning

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