photoshop creative

10 creative light effects

Posted in:
Tips & Tutorials, by Mark White
November 24, 2014

Try out these ideas and make your next project stand out in glowing fashion

1. Lighting effects

Go to Filter>Render>Lighting Effects to begin adding lights to your image. Either start with the customisable presets or choose from the three light types: Spot, Point and Infinite. Add multiple lights and use the intuitive on-image controls to manipulate them. Mix and match light types and colours for a dynamic illumination.

2. Lens flare

Before applying a Lens Flare filter, first Ctrl/right-click on the layer in the Layers palette and choose Convert to Smart Object. Then go to Filter>Render>Lens Flare and customise. Since the filter is applied to a Smart Object it becomes a Smart Filter, which can be edited at any time.

3. Layer styles

Don’t neglect the basics! Prudent use of the Outer Glow and Inner Glow layer styles (click the fx button at the bottom of the Layers palette) adds a boost of beautiful illumination to your images. Try setting the Fill to 0% on your text or shapes or shapes for a glowing outline effect.

4. Dramatic lighting

Use the Dodge and Burn tool (O) to intensify highlights and shadows. Also, create a beam of light with the Gradient tool (G). Set it to the Reflected style, choose the Foreground colour is white. Click and drag, then apply an Outer Glow layer style.

5. Paint with light

Create a new layer and apply an Outer Glow layer style. Doodle with the Brush tool (B) and you’ll be painting with light! Try out different brush presets and settings, or create Paths with the Pen tool (P) then stroke them with the Brush by using the button in the Paths palette.

6. Radial gradients

To help set off a subject from its background, use some radial gradients. Select the Gradient tool and set the Foreground colour to white or a suitably light colour. Next, choose the Radial style and the Foreground to Transparent preset in the options. On a blank layer between the subject and background, click and drag out the gradients.

7. Glowing edges

Use Glowing Edges (Filter>Stylise>Glowing Edges) to make a neon outline version of your image reminiscent of the Tron effect. Boost the effect with a Levels adjustment layer and pump up the highlights. Use radial gradients together with a range of colours and blend modes to add colour surges.

8. Colour Dodge

Use the Gradient tool or the Brush tool on a layer set to the cOlour Dodge blend mode to create delicious light glares. Experiment with the colour of the gradients to determine what looks best, and be sure to test out other blend modes too.

9. Streaking light bursts

For these, select the Gradient tool and pick the Angle style. Click the gradient preview. Set the Gradient Type to Noise, then tweak the settings. When done, click and drag in your document to create the burst. Fine-tune with layer masks.

10. All together now

Take some time to test out and practice the previous tips. See what works for you and don’t be afraid to add your own unique touch. Then combine it all with other tools and techniques to create a brilliant spectacle that’s all your own.