photoshop creative

Create a lightbulb composition

Posted in:
Tips & Tutorials, by Mark White
February 10, 2016

Use non-destructive techniques to blend your images and create an eye-catching composition


1. Create the background


Create a new document (File>New). Name it Light Bulb and set the Width to 230mm, Height to 200mm, and Resolution to 300ppi, then hit OK. Now go to File>Place your background. Drag the handlers to scale the image and hit Return/Enter.

2. Apply adjustments and filters


Select Levels from the Create New Fill or Adjustment Layer button at the bottom of the Layers palette. Adjust the input levels to 0, 0.80 and 240. Now click on the Seascape layer and then go to Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur. Set the Radius to 15 pixels and click OK.

3. Add the sand


Go to File>Place a sand image and hit Return/Enter. Grab the Quick Selection tool (W). On the options bar click Add to Selection. Set the Size: 50, Hardness: 100% and Spacing: 1%. Check Auto-Enhance and select the sand. Go to Layer>Layer Mask>Reveal Selection.

4. Adjust the tones


Go to Layer>New Adjustment Layer>Levels. Check ‘Use Previous layer to create clipping mask’ and then hit OK. Adjust the Input levels to 0, 0.70, 210.

5. Place the light bulb


Go to File>Place a light bulb image and hit Return/Enter. Grab the Quick Selection tool (W) and select the light bulb. Click Refine Edge on the tool options bar. Check Smart Radius, set Radius: 2 pixels, Smooth: 5, check Decontaminate Color and set the Amount to 100%, then hit OK.

6. Duplicate the layer


Hit Cmd/Ctrl+J to duplicate the layer and name it Light Bulb Final. Now go to Layer>Layer Mask>Apply (hide the Light Bulb copy layer). Add a new layer mask. Go to Layer> Layer Mask>Reveal All.

7. Create the transparent bulb


Hold Cmd/Ctrl and click on the Light Bulb Final layer thumbnail to select it. Go to Select>Modify>Contract. Set it to 35 pixels and hit OK. Click on the layer mask. Set the Foreground colour to black. Grab the Brush tool (B). Set Opacity: 30% and start painting inside the selection.

8. Brighten it up


Let’s make the light bulb a little brighter. Go to Layer>New Adjustment Layer>Levels. Check ‘Use Previous layer to create clipping mask’ and hit OK. Adjust the Input levels to 0, 0.90, 205. Now go to Layer>New Adjustment Layer> Brightness/Contrast, clip the layers and hit OK. Set the Brightness to 25.

9. Add the water


Go to File>Place a water image and hit Return/Enter. Go to Layer> Rasterize>Smart Object (Elements users choose Liquify). Grab the Magic Wand tool (W). Select the white area and hit Delete on your keyboard.

10. Warp it


Hit Cmd/Ctrl+T to open the Free Transform tool. Resize the image and switch to Warp mode or go to Edit>Transform>Warp (Elements users use the Liquify filter). Drag the meshes to create a curved shape.

11. Mask it


Keep the Water layer active. Now hold Cmd/Ctrl and click on the Light Bulb Final layer thumbnail to select the light bulb, then go to Layer>Layer Mask>Reveal Selection. Grab the Brush tool (B) and paint over the screw cap to hide it. Change the blend mode to Multiply.

12. Create a shadow


Go to Layer>New>Layer. Name it Shadow and hit OK. Grab the Elliptical Marquee tool (M) and create a selection. Fill it with colour #0e647e. Hit Cmd/Ctrl+T and drag the middle handler to make it flat. Resize it and hit Return/Enter.

13. Enhance the shadow


Go to Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur. Set the Radius to 40px and click OK. Change the Opacity to 90% and the blend mode to Hard Light. Drag it under the Light Bulb Final layer. Quick tip: keep the shadow selected and paint the area under the screw cap with black.

14. Caustic effect


Create a new layer on top of the layer stack and name it Caustic Light. Grab the Elliptical Marquee tool. Create a selection and fill it with white. Hit Cmd/Ctrl+T to scale and adjust the perspective. Apply Gaussian Blur: 30%. Change Fill to 55% and blend mode to Color Dodge.

15. Place the windsurfers


Go to File>Place your windsurfers. Scale the image and then hit OK. Now set the Fill to 90% to fade slightly. Repeat this step and place the other windsurfer images. Now go to File>Place a splash image. Resize it and place over the boards. Change the blend mode to Screen.

16. Add clouds


Place some clouds. Scale the image and switch to Warp mode. Drag meshes to create a nice curved shape (Elements users pick the Liquify filter). Change the blend mode to Screen. Now go to Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur. Set Radius to 3 pixels and hit OK.

17. Boost the colours


Let’s boost the colour using adjustment layers. Go to Layer>New Adjustment Layer>Vibrance. Set Vibrance and Saturation to +30. Now add a Levels adjustment layer and set the Inputs to 0, 0.85, 250. Add a Color Lookup adjustment layer. Check Device Link and choose Smokey. Set the layer’s Opacity to 60%.