He's On Fire!!!

If any of you old-schoolers ever played NBA Jam, nothing was sweeter than when your player became “On Fire!” and every shot and dunk ignited into a flaming explosion. We’re going to do a compositing exercise in Photoshop to recreate what this would look like in live-action!


All we need is a picture of a basketball player jamming it down and a couple pictures of abstract lighting effects and fractal designs. Ctrl+A to select all and Ctrl+C to copy the light graphic. Go to the basketball player pic and Ctrl+P to paste. Repeat this with the other graphic and you should now have 3 layers.

The key to this exercise is finding the visual anchor point in the light graphics and lining those up with the hoop. The anchor points would be around where the lightsource might be or simply where it is brightest.

In my file I placed the burst on the top layer and the fractal pattern beneath it. On the burst layer I pressed Ctrl+T to scale and rotate the image. Hold shift to keep the scaling proportionate while transforming. I set the blending mode to Overlay and then took the eraser brush and lightly brushed away sections where the basketball is.

I did the same to the fractal layer except its blending mode is set to Lighten. The lights are also positioned from left to right to invoke a sense of movement. Here’s how my file looks with the blending mode just set to Normal.

Set the blending mode back to Lighten to finalize the composite of the ultimate slam dunk!

By Mark Rivera

Mark is an animator and ad designer for WebProNews. He has a passion for illustration and 3D art.

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