August 19, 2010


Making a Starry Filter Effect in GIMP

Photographers use Star Filters sometimes to really make the highlights stand out, but if you do not have one you can use GIMP to reproduce the effect.

Star Filter Effect in GIMP

Star Filter Effect in GIMP

1. Uncovering the Light sources with Levels

  • Open up an image with plenty of individual light sources.
  • Duplicate the Original layer:
  • On your Light Sources layer go, Colors –> Levels
  • Slide the middle to the right, and slide the left to the middle/left, as shown:
Uncovering the Light Sources with Levels

Uncovering the Light Sources with Levels

2. Motion Blur – Linear

  • Duplicate your Light Sources layer 4 times:
  • Adding the Motion Blur go, Filters –> Blur –> Motion Blur
  • Settings: Linear, Length: 256, Angle: 45:
  • And set the Blend Mode of the layer to Screen:
  • Repeat this for each of the 4 only changing the angle: 45, 135, 225, 315
  • If the spikes are not long enough, then repeat the blur  for each layer (Ctrl/Cmd + F)
Motion Blur - Linear

Motion Blur - Linear

Spike Layers

Spike Layers

3. Merge Layers – Increase Brightness

  • Uncheck the ‘eye’ on the Original layer, now ‘Right Click’ on the other layers and go Merge Visible Layers…
  • Set the layer to Screen:
  • Go Colors –> Levels:
  • Move the right slider towards the centre/left, and the centre slider to the left, as shown:

Merge Layers - Increase Brightness

Merge Layers - Increase Brightness

That’s it!

Here is the Before and After:

Before and After Star Filter Effect

Before and After Star Filter Effect

If you get stuck anywhere just comment below!

If you prefer to use Photoshop check it out here!

If you’d like to use these photographs please Contact Me! :) .

Please comment below if you have any questions and I’ll answer them ASAP!

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Written by Mike

Michael Scott is the publisher and photographer behind Scott Photographics! He is very passionate about his photography and enjoys sharing the best of his experiences for others to enjoy too! Contact Mike via email!
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6 Comments Post a comment
  1. Apr 13 2011

    Hi Joso,

    Yeah that is a possibility by using a black brush colour or vice versa, but it depends where you are in the process, you might need to merge the layer mask?

    Or you could use the clone tool before you motion blur the layer.

    Let me know if those work or not and I’ll have another look!



    Let me know if that works?

  2. joso photo
    Apr 13 2011

    can I add a layer mask and erase some of the light effect, I cannot get it to do that when I add a layer mask, white full opacity. I thought it might work like a SC edit and I could erase what I didn’t want?

    Thanks for your time.

  3. Aug 23 2010

    Hi Hulk,

    Your Blend Mode is just above all your layers (Ctrl + L), and to duplicate your ‘Light Source’ Layers there is a button at the bottom of the layers sidebar or Shift + Ctrl + D!



  4. hulk
    Aug 22 2010

    where is blend mode? I use gimp 2.4.7.
    How do I “Duplicate your Light Sources layer 4 times”?

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