How to use flare tool in Illustrator Tutorial CC CS6 CS5 etc

How to use Flare tool for Adobe ® Illustrator CC 2018 2017 2015 CS6 CS5 CS4 CS3 CS2 etc with lens flares, rings / halo / styles etc. A quick guide to many of the features of the amazing flare tool

Flare tool in Illustrator

how to use the (lens) flare tool illustrator toolbox
  1. Create a black background

  2. Select the flare tool in Illustrator toolbar (beneath rectangle tool)

  3. Apply the initial flare by clicking on the artboard

  4. Drag outwards to define the center

  5. Click again to create the rings from the flare

Create star backgrounds in Illustrator with the flare tool (youtube)


The flare tool can be found in the Illustrator toolbox beneath the rectangle tool


flare tool two part tool

The flare tool is a slightly odd tool in that it is a two part tool. You can just apply the first flare and totally ignore the rings by changing tools after the first pass. Though, if you subsequently go back to the flare tool, the second pass will still be active and the rings will appear. For example, Go to the flare tool and then apply the initial flare and then Select another tool in Illustrator toolbar


Buy $9.95 217 Ring shapes for use in AI (V30) gallery

editable flare toolThe FT is a live effect and editable even if you switch to other Illustrator tools - you can change the flare over and over.


Select FT and Click on center of flare or center or rings. Move the center of flare or rings


It should be remembered that the flare tool is a live effect and most parts of the flare can be modified via the flare options dialog on selecting the flare tool. If you have created two or more flares, you can also select a flare and modify only that. Just click on the parts of the flare (with the flare tool) you want to change and move the origin point etc of the rings or center etc


illustrator flare tool multiple timesA background for a flare - the flare works fine on its own but it is more amazing with a black background or a different colorful background.


Small flares (to a confined space) make a wonderful sparkly background


Large flares can fill an entire background in seconds.


Personally, I find the default application of the flare against the default white background to be pretty dull, and perhaps one of the reasons why the tool seems to have few fans. If you apply the effect against a background or a solid color (black, comes to mind) then the artwork springs to life. Even more so when you apply 5 flares or more onto a color background and then the flare really starts to take on a true sparkle. As the flare can be applied large or small. The flares are definitely multi-use.


You can interactively modify the generated flare art by using some of modifier keys such as

UP / DOWN (number of rays)

CTRL (size of flare)

SHIFT (constrains the tool to the same ratio of flare / ray size etc)

ALT (rotate).


The modifiers are interesting and interactive but offer nothing that cannot be achieved via the dialog and the dialog does offer precision to the settings.


dialog for the flare tool for IllustratorFlare tool options in Illustrator - double click the flare tool icon in the toolbar and change the settings for center and halo etc


To see the options, double click the flare tool icon. There are a number of settings


1) Center

2) Halo

3) Rays

4) Rings


The flares can generally used independently so you can de-select the rays, rings etc and just use the halo etc. You can also set the numbers to low as well as high values for the rays etc to create a range of different artworks from the same basic tool.


blending modes and flare toolBlending modes in Adobe Illustrator - you can create unusual designs by changing the flare's opacity and blending mode


The flare tool generates a path and as a standard path it can be applied with a set blending mode such as normal or lighten. You can create multiple flares all with different blending modes as well as different opacity settings.


To change the opacity and blending mode for the tool, just click on the opacity link on the top option bar. Many different color effect combinations can be created by using different blends which can also be in turn, blended with a background


You can create an interesting halo by de-selecting the rays and rings and then Set the opacity etc high as well as the growth etc to high values


Set the brightness to the high or perhaps to very low, 0%. The fuzziness settings is an odd one, I am certain it does something (probably more path related and perhaps comes into its own if used with other paths)


Duplicate the halo flare (alt / option) and reduce in size by scaling say to 75% of the original flare (you can do this via the center option as well) and Align both flares and then Repeat duplicate and scale again by another 75% etc


Great for creating a quick contour flare / halo tool effect as on the left. You can also shift the individual flares and perhaps fill an entire image with the flare / halos or perhaps align the halos in a line or perhaps create a circle of halos and more. Of course, you could just use two halos with opacity set to 100% and fuzziness to 100% and create two car headlights heading towards the screen


Creating rays with the flare tool in Illustrator

If you don't want any rays applied. Double click the icon found in the toolbox and De-select the rays checkbox.


You can also set the number of rays to 0 even if the checkbox is on. The maximum number of rays is 50 - you can't enter 100 or more into the rays field (sadly). But personally, I like the rays so I generally keep the rays settings ON. The rays are very fine. The rays can be lengthened from 0 (again, no rays are seen) to 1000% of the size of the flare. There has to be said, little difference in the lines when the fuzziness is changed. All very subtle.


Again, the rays come into their own when you re-apply a flare over and over. If you create multiple flares then you can generate more than the 50 ray lines. Four flares result in 200 lines filling the entire screen (if you use the maximum rays). I am certain there is some overlap so perhaps not all 200 lines can be seen but it creates a far more dramatic flare than a single. You can also use the alignment tools and rotate the path as you would with any standard path.


To apply this flare tool effect in a more repeatable way by using the appearance panel and live effects - the transform command can generate more copies of the live flare (rays and all) and rotate them as well as add additional transforms.


The flare tool can be edited via the isolation mode (as symbols etc). Double click on any of the generated flares and you will be offered different layers of the flare to edit such as core gradient which can be modified such as changing the highlight of the centre gradient - though not, it appears, any color. You can position the core of the flare using the gradient tool (in isolation mode) as well as shrink the core or increase the size of the flare - you can also make the core more intense and sharper as well as a lot fuzzier - none of these options are available via the dialog. In isolation mode, you can also distort many of the paths using the direct selection tool such as the rings (individually)


blurry flare toolThe Illustrator flares can be exported for use into Photoshop and then combined with Photoshop effects . You don't have to keep the flare tool tied down, it can be set free.


For example, Create the flare in Illustrator via the flare tool and Drag to the CC library and then Go to Photoshop. Drag from the CC library into a Photoshop document. Apply effects to the new design


The result of the flare tool can be pasted into Photoshop (for some reason as a pixel option seems to work better than the smart object) and re-pasted or duplicates of the flare layer can be created.


The flares are now just normal objects in Adobe ® Photoshop ®, you can apply layer effects such as metal and wood effects as well as live effects to the flares such as blurs and oil paint etc. The flare can be added as a dramatic effect to text objects or shape layers in Adobe ® Photoshop ® (though Photoshop has a lens flare filter - it doesn't come near to the range of options available to the Illustrator's flare). Of course, there are also many powerful filter effects in Illustrator such as gaussian blur which can be added to the flare. You can also export the results of the flare tool to other applications such as Affinity Photo and Flame Painter 3 Pro


blur tool flare illustratorStandard Illustrator Live effects can be applied to the effect and also fills and strokes can be added to the flare. The flare is a path, not a standard path as it is made up of multiple components but it does allow for additional fills and strokes (not always effective) to be added.


The 3D bevel effect can be applied to the flare though the result is a little poor (it is not a 3D flare by any means).


The blur etc filters can be applied to the flare and they result in a blurry / fuzzy flare.


A blur has been added to the Illustrator flare on the right. As the flare and the live effects are live, you can create duplicates of the design and the effects and fill an entire document with blurred (perhaps different blurring) flares.


You can select a flare in Adobe AI and you can transform the design such as scale as well as rotate. You can also shear the flare as well as rotate and reflect it.


The scale does not have to 100%, it can be 40% in the horizontal and 100% vertical creating a very differently shaped flare.


Likewise, the object menu envelope command can be applied to the flare and various arch and arc and flag etc can be applied though the end results can vary. The free transform tool can also be applied and the results can be varied.


flare tool illustrator transformThe best tool for dramatic manipulation of the flare tool in Adobe Illustrator has to be the live effect (the key thing here, as always, is the live effect where you can modify the result at any point and create a completely different result in seconds).


One thing to remember, if you are filling a circle - 360 degrees, 10 copies.. you really should enter 9 in the copies field as you already have one copy, the original.


Hold down the alt / option key and the reset will appear and click that to put the settings back to the default.


The flares in Illustrator can be saved as symbols. As symbols, they can be applied using the symbol sprayer tool. As a symbol, the flare can be re-used and they are identical. The symbols also take up less resources. As symbols, the flares can also be manipulated like any other symbol and fills / strokes and live effects can be applied to the instance. You can spray and splatter flares across the image.


flare tool recoloring

The flare tool dialog offers no means to change the color of the flare, so applying the flare results in the same color effect each and every time (whether large or small). You can change the color by using tools such as the color guide as well as the edit menu adjust command


flare tool and repeat ringsThe rings option adds an extra touch of class to the flare. The rings do not need to be applied in a particular direction, they can be just layered on top of the center of the flare. just set the path to 0pt. The number can also be set to 0 which is the equivalent of de-checking the rings option. The maximum size of the rings can be set by the largest option - you can have small rings as well as super large rings all relative to the actual flare.


On the right, you can see the result of adding multiple rings flares (four) and changing the angle of the applications of the rays. You can also change the settings of the rays via the settings panel and creating a powerful intense light show by just using a single flare, of course you can also create multiple paths and combine them with blending modes etc


Ultimately, the effect is made up of multiple paths (open and closed) and you can just ungroup the flare. Ungroup and the flare is no longer a live effect and can no longer be edited as a flare via the dialog. The flare can be broken into rings, rays etc. You can then modify each part such as adding additional designs to the flare or moving the origin of the rays and more.


You can, if you wish, rasterize the artwork via the object rasterize command and then you can apply a live image tracing to the design. You can then create a colorful trace or just a black and white trace. An alternative to this, pass the flare to Photoshop and apply various image adjustments and then re-copy the flare back into Illustrator and then apply the image trace. You can see the result of an image trace applied in black and white


applied multiple times in Illustrator field of starsI am not so keen on a singular burst as I always feel the flare tool really comes alive if you are willing to throw all caution to the wind and apply multiple bursts to a design and multiple applications that are applied with different blends. Millions of truly wow graphics can be created using multiple applies such as sparkly to starbursts to subtle blurry fog scenes and more.


By just changing the opacity of the flares (or the blending mode for others), you can turn bright headlights into a misty badly lit scene - which would look even more misty if there was something blended into the background of the Illustrator artwork. The opacity of the flares are all set to 20% simply by selecting all of them and then setting the opacity in the options bar


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