photoshop creative

How do I add illuminating light effects to my image?

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Q&A, by Mark White
August 6, 2015

It’s Thursday – so we’re answering another Q&A…


Start with an Unsharp Mask to add clarity, then duplicate and set to Soft Light. In our example, black to transparent Linear gradients were added round the edges and sky. Next, a battery of adjustment layers set the tone. Levels was used for a contrast boost. Vibrance boosted the saturation (use Hue/Saturation), and Colour Balance and a purple Colour Fill layer set to Colour Burn were added for more extraordinary overall colouring.

For increased detail, we used the HDR toning adjustment. For each light glow, colours were sampled with the Eyedropper and a cOlour Fill layer created, set to Soft Light or Overlay. Their masks were filled with black and we carefully applied a white-to-transparent radial gradient over the little lights in the scene. For extra lighting on the water, add a Gaussian Blur set to Colour Dodge and use the Warp tool to make intricate edits.

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