How to enhance your subjects with striking light effects in Photoshop
In this Photoshop tutorial I’ll show you a simple technique that can be used to enhance any kind of subject with stunning light effects. We will use in particular selection tools, gradients and brushes to achieve the result.
Preview:Click on the image for a larger preview
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Start creating a new Photoshop document. Mine is 2000×2600 pixels. Grab the gradient tool and add a radial gradient going from a dark grey (#454545) to black (#000000)
We will create some clouds now. So create a new layer, make sure to have black and white as foreground and background color and go to Filter>Render>Clouds. Now press alt+ctrl+F to increase the effect strength and set the layer to screen with opacity 10%.
At this point you can use the erase tool (E), or a mask if you prefer, to remove unwanted pixels. Use a large soft (hardness 0%) brush for this purpose. As you can see in the screenshot below, I removed clouds from the bottom of the canvas, where I have in mind to place the text. I created soft clouds in the top center, where I want to put the dancer.
Let’s add a text. This tutorial can be used as a reference point for a poster design. You could replace “wegraphics” with the name of the event. In my case I wrote the name of my brand using Cicle, that is a thin elegant font. I made some blending effects to the text. So right-click on the text layer and select Blending options. I selected a gradient overlay and the outer glow. Take a look at the screenshot for the settings.
Create a new layer and use a soft white brush to enhance the text:
Create another layer and use the rectangular marquee tool to make a selection as shown in the screenshot below:
With the gradient tool create a linear gradient going from white to transparent. Then go to Select>Deselect (or press Ctrl+D).
At this point create a layer mask by pressing the “Add layer mask” icon at the bottom of the layers window, and use a large soft BLACK brush to make the gradient thinner.
Place the just created light effect at the bottom of the text and reduce the opacity to 40%.
At this point I decided to create a nice star to make the text shiner. We will create a custom brush for this purpose. So create a new layer and use the ellipse tool to create a thin black ellipse:
Now go to Filter>Blur>Motion blur and apply the effect
Duplicate the ellipse (press ctrl+J) and rotate it of 90°. Now we can save the brush: go to edit>define brush preset. Perfect! You can notice our new brush at the bottom of the brushes window.
We can now switch to our main canvas. Create a new layer and use the just created brush to add nice light effects to the text.
You can now paste in the subject. I bought the nice image of a dancer, but you can use any kind of image. The effect we are going to create can be applied to everything.
The actual result is so boring! Let’s apply a gradient map layer. Go to Layer>New adjustment layer>Gradient map and add a gradient going from purple (#6f156c) to green (#00601b) to orange (#fd7c00). Set the layer to overlay and reduce the opacity to around 75%. Take in mind that this layer from now go on shall be at the top of all the other layers.
Better, don’t you agree?
At this point I decided to add abstract effect to the backgrounds, so I downloaded a beautiful image of a fractal. You can create these kind of effects using Apophysis, which is a cool free tool (for windows only,unfortunately). Place the fractal above the clouds, set the layer to Linear dodge and reduce the opacity to 50%. Again use the erase tool to remove unwanted parts:
Now the cool effect! Start creating a rectangle using the rectangle tool.
Now ctrl+click on the rectangle layer in order to select its pixels, select the dude’s layer and hide the visibility of the rectangle. We have only the selection visible. Move the selection using the move tool (V). Then press ctrl+D to deselect.
Grab the marquee selection tool and create a linear gradient going from white to transparent into a new layer (as in step 5). Then press ctrl+D to deselect and set the layer to overlay.
Press ctrl+T to activate the transform tool and rotate the light effect to cover the part of the dude we moved out from the body.
At this point we can create a mask and use a large soft black brush to make the light effect thinner.
Now you simply have to apply the same technique several times.
Here you can see the dude after I divided him in parts:
And this is the result after I create light effects:
As a final touch you can create a new layer, select a large soft brush and paint over the dude using blue or purple. Then reduce the opacity of the layer.
We’ve finished! Hope you appreciate this tutorial.
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