Dramatic Particle Explosion Olympic Rings Artwork – Photoshop CC

Along with the flurry of Olympic graphics packages that are plastered over every billboard and TV screen in the world right now, I’m going to pitch in with a Photoshop tutorial on creating a really cool Olympic rings graphic effect that will teach you how to create blended color backgrounds, smooth glowing fiber rings, painted, glowing effects, exploding particles, and much more! Check out this tutorial and make sure to share it with your friends and family!

1. Create the Background pt I

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Create a new Photoshop document sized 2560x1440px and then open Hue/Saturation by hitting Cmd/Ctrl + U and tick on “Colorize” and set Hue: +250, Saturation: +100, Lightness: -96. This will give us our rich, dark purple-ish background color.

2. Create the Background pt II

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Create a new layer and name it “Pink Spot” and grab your Brush tool and set the tool Roundness to 50% in the Brush Panel and set the size to 1650px and the hardness to 0% and click a dot of pink color in the middle of the document and set the blend mode of the layer to Screen and the opacity to 50%. NOTE: The hex codes for my color palette for this project are as follows:

  • Green: 00c44c
  • Blue: 00aeff
  • Orange: ffb117
  • Red: ff2222
  • Pink: ff00de

3. Create the Background pt III

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Create a new layer and name it “White Spot” and paint a white spot in the center of the document much like the last spot we made in the last step. Set this layer to the blend mode Overlay and the opacity to 50%.

4. Colorize/Intensify the Background

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Create a new layer and name it “Colorize” and then grab the Brush tool and sample from our color palette and paint with a large, soft-edged brush until the whole layer is full of color. Set the layer to the blend mode Color Dodge and the opacity to 20%.

5. Center Light Spot for Depth

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Create a new layer and name it “Butter Yellow” and grab your Brush tool and dab some buttery yellow color into the center of the document with a large, soft-edged brush and set the layer to the blend mode to Overlay and leave the opacity at 100%.

6. Create the Path for the Olympic Rings

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Grab the Ellipse tool and choose “Path” from the control bar up at the top of the Photoshop UI. Drag out a perfect circle by holding down Shift as you drag out a circle. Open your Paths panel by going Window>Paths and double click on this new path and name it “Circle Path.”

7. Setup Brushes for Ring Effect

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Grab the Brush tool and choose a small, hard-edged brush (I chose a 3px brush) and open the Brush panel by going Window>Brush. Select “Shape Dynamics” and choose “Fade” from the drop down menu below the Size Jitter slider. Set the input field on the right to 1600. NOTE: This number will be different depending on how big your path is and how big your brush tip is.

8. Stroke the Rings

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Create a new layer and name it “circle”. Choose a green color to be your foreground color and jump back to the Path panel and right click on the “Circle Path” and choose “Stroke Path” and choose the Brush tool from the drop down menu and tick on “Simulate Pressure.” NOTE: “Simulate Pressure” will allow us to take advantage of the size jitter settings that we set for our current brush tip when this stroke is applied to the path. TIP: If your stroke isn’t fading out, that “1600” number in the Brush panel next to the fade option is too much. If your stroke is fading away too soon, “1600” isn’t enough. Adjust to fit your particular path.

9. Duplicate and Transform the Rings

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Once you have your first ring, you want to duplicate your layer (Cmd/Ctrl + J) and free transform (Cmd/Ctrl + T) each stroke to build an effect where you have multiple strokes that start looking like little fibers rotating around a circle. I think I have about 20x copies of that fiber to get my effect.

10. Group and Blend the Small Rings

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Select all of the “circle” layers and hit Cmd/Ctrl + G to Group the layers and then and set the layer group to the blend mode, Color Dodge. NOTE: This will make these lines almost disappear. We’ll bring that back in just a moment.

11. Setup the Brush for the Larger Ring Effect

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Open the Brush Preset panel and click the little fly out menu in the top right corner of this panel and choose to load the “Thick Heavy Brushes” and grab the center-most brush. It’s called “Round Bristle.” Set your brush tip size to something about as wide as your little fibers that are in place. I set my brush to 45px. Jump back over to the Brush panel and tick on Shape Dynamics for this brush and choose that same fade option again. I set mine to “1500” for the size of my path.

12. Stroking the Ring Again

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Create a new layer and name it “Paint” and then select the “Circle Path” and stroke this path on your new layer with “Simulate Pressure” ticked on as we did earlier.

13. Blurring, Duplicating, and Blending the Rings

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Now, duplicate that painted stroke three times and transform and rotate each stroke to mix up this ring. Blur bottom-most stroke using Filter>Gaussian Blur and blur it just enough to give you a nice glow beneath your ring. With the other three rotated painted rings, set them as follows from bottom to top: Screen: opacity 100%, Color Dodge: opacity 50%, Color Dodge: opacity 75%

14. Masking the Rings to Interlock Them

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I grouped all of my individual rings each into their own layer group so I can keep track of them and mask them. I added a mask to each of these layer groups so I could mask away parts of each ring to make my rings look like they are weaving in and out of each other.

15. Creating Particle Effect with a Mask

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Create a new layer beneath all of these rings and name it “Particles” and then grab a large soft-edged brush and paint big blobs of color and add a layer mask and fill it with black and grab a particle brush and click to paint with white around the rings to reveal a colorful burst of particles around our rings.

16. Create the Zooming Particle Effect with Path blur

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Cmd/Ctrl + Click the layer mask for the “Particles” layer and then click on the thumbnail for that layer and hit Cmd/Ctrl + J to make a copy of just these speckles of color up onto their own layer. Go Filter>Blur Gallery>Path Blur and drag out paths to create a blur effect that blasts these particles from the center of the rings outward to make this exploding, zooming particle effect. Set this layer to the blend mode of Color Dodge and duplicate this layer and change the blend mode to Screen.

17. Adding Additional Lighting Effects

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Duplicate the “Rings” layer group by selecting the group and hit Cmd/Ctrl + J and then merge the layer group into a single layer by hitting Cmd/Ctrl + E. Next, go Filter>Blur>Motion Blur and set the Angle to 90 degrees and the Distance to 100 pixels. Set this layer to the blend mode of Color Dodge and the opacity to 35%.

18. Adding the Flares

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Create a new layer above all the rings and name this layer “Flares” and set this layer to the blend mode of Color Dodge. Load some flare brushes into Photoshop and click around and place a couple flares and have fun choosing some different colors and sizes to create some nice sparkling flares.

19. Adding Background Elements to Finish the Effect

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On a new layer, paint some geometric shapes with a 50% gray and set that layer to our favorite blend mode in this tutorial, Color Dodge, and reduce the opacity until it looks beautiful and blended just right. That’s it!

Check out the Behance project I created to see some of the behind the scenes shots of this project!