photoshop creative

How to create a realistic sunset effect in Photoshop

Posted in:
Tips & Tutorials, by Mark White
May 18, 2012

Transform a daytime image with a bright, intense sunset effect in this free Photoshop tutorial


Sunset effecti in Photoshop

Step 1 – Gradient Fill

Open up a landscape image and add the Gradient fill layer (found inside the circular icon in the Layers palette). In the fly-out menu click on the Gradient option and choose the Foreground to Transparent thumbnail in the Presets.

Step 2 – Colourise the sky

Click on the bottom two of the four colour boxes, setting the left swatch to orange (#ffa422) and the right swatch to white. Hit OK in this window and then tick Reverse in the Gradient Fill menu followed by OK.

Step 3 – Lower brightness

Set the gradient layer’s blend mode to Color and this time add the Curves adjustment from the same icon. Pull the curve’s line downwards to lower the brightness. This will vary on how bright your image is to begin with.

Step 4 – Set Foreground colour

Create a new blank layer between the Curves adjustment and the gradient fill, changing its blend mode to Overlay. Click on your Foreground swatch in the Toolbar and set its colour to a bright yellow (#ffdf4b).

Step 5 – Paint on yellow

Select the Brush tool (B) and, in the Options bar under Brush, set Hardness to 0%. Set Opacity to 30% and paint over the sky starting from where the sun is (or will be). Keep this effect subtle.

Step 6 – Glowing sunlight

Change the Foreground colour to white and paint over the patch of sky where you want the sun to be placed. At 30% Opacity, this will take a couple of stamps of the Brush to reveal a bright white glow.

 Step 7 – Final colour

To finish off the effect, add a blank layer to the top of the stack. Set your Foreground colour to a light orange (#ffae00) and press Alt/Opt+Backspace to fill this layer. Change its blend mode to Soft Light and lower its Opacity to 20% to complete the sunset look.


  • Do you guys have videos tutorials for beginners? Videos turtorials seem to be more effective when it comes to teaching Photoshop

  • Simon Skellon

    Hi rAND – we do have video tutorials on our disc that’s supplied with the magazine. There’s also a selection here on our companion website:
    Hope this helps 🙂 Simon

  • Ashu

    Nice it’s extremely nice!!!

  • looks easy…

  • This is such a wondrous tutorial,very well explained and easy to understand. That’s amazing and beautiful work. I am a graphics designer; I am optimistic that I will follow your guideline and create this type of special effect work. Thanks you for this spontaneous tutorial.

  • Mia

    Amazing image manipulations!! Where did you study it? I also want to edit like you but don’t have enough time for it. retouches instead of me)

  • Gradient option and choose the Foreground to Transparent thumbnail in the Presets.