Add light effects to a photo in photoshop

?In this tutorial, you will learn how to create stunning dark effects in your photos. I will try to explain this technique to you in detail so that everyone can recreate this effect, even those who only opened Photoshop for the first time.

In this tutorial, I will show you how to create the effect shown in the image on the left.

If you want to create an effect that is represented in the image on the right, with a single mouse click, then you can use my action.

The final result:

The results of the Dark Fantasy action in Photoshop

Source materials:

  • Portrait of a Girl
  • Download the archive with materials for the lesson

1. Let’s get started!

First, open the original photo with which you will work. To open a photo, go File – Open (File> Open) and in the window that appears, select the desired photo, and then click Open (Open). Now, before we continue, just clarify a couple of points:

  1. Your original photo must be in Color mode (Color mode) RGB, 8 bit / channel (Bits / Channel). To check this, let’s go Image – Mode (Image> Mode).
  2. For best results, your photo should have the following dimensions within 1500-4000 px in width / height (wide / high). To check the image size, go Image – Image Size (Image> Image Size).

2. Select the object

Step 1

Now we need to create an active selection around our object. You can do this with the following tools:

  • We use the tool Pen (Pen Tool (P))
  • We use the tool Lasso (Lasso Tool (L))
  • We use the tool Fast selection (Quick Selection Tool (W))
  • We use the tool Magic wand (Magic Wand Tool (W))

There are many ways to create a selection, but in this example I’m going to use the tool Magic wand (Magic Wand Tool (W)). If you decide to use the same tool, simply adjust the value Admission (Tolerance), and then start creating a selection around the image of your object. Use the Shift / Alt keys to add to the selected area or subtract parts of the selected area. Feel free to change the tolerance value often.

It is sometimes easier to select a background (for example, as in this example). So, select the background, and then go Selection – Inversion (Select> Inverse) to invert the selection, and you will get a selection around the object.

Step 2

Now we go Layer – New – Copy to New Layer (Layer> New> Layer Via Copy) to create a new layer from the selected area. Now we have a selected image of the object on a separate layer. Double-click the layer name to name the layer, name this layer. Main Photo (Main Photo).

3. Create a background

Step 1

Go to layer with Background (Background layer), and then go Layer – New Fill Layer – Color (Layer> New Fill Layer> Solid Color) to create a new layer with a fill color. In the window that appears, give a new name to the layer Background Color (Background Color), and then press the ‘OK’ button. After that, another window will appear that asks you to choose a fill color. Select black as the fill (# 000000), and then click the ‘OK’ button.

Step 2

Repeat the previous step, add another fill layer with the same settings, only this time name the layer Average shine (Middle Light). Next, we will add a layer style. Gradient overlay (Gradient overlay) to layer Average shine (Middle Light). Right-click on a new layer with a fill in the layers panel and select the option in the menu that appears. Options overlay (Blending Options). Apply layer style Gradient overlay (Gradient Overlay). Set the following settings for this layer style, which are shown in the screenshot below:

Step 3

Decrease Opacity (Opacity) of this layer to 25%.

4. Create a light source

Step 1

Now, to create a light source, let’s go Layer – New Fill Layer – Gradient (Layer> New Fill Layer> Gradient) to create a new gradient fill layer. Name this layer Light source (Light Source), and then press the ‘OK’ button. After that, another window will appear with gradient settings. Make the following settings, which are shown in the screenshot below, and then click the ‘OK’ button.

Step 2

Now we need to make sure that the light does not hit the bottom of the image. For this, we are going to use a layer mask. Go to the mask of the current layer, press the ‘D’ key and then press the ‘X’ key to set the foreground color to black, and then go Editing – Run Fill (Edit> Fill). Apply the settings shown in the screenshot below, and then click the ‘OK’ button.

Step 3

While still on the layer mask, select the tool. Lasso (Lasso Tool (L)), right-click anywhere inside the host and select the option in the window that appears Free transformation (Free Transform). Set the location of the control points and the vertical scale, as shown in the screenshot below, and then press the ‘Enter’ key.

Step 4

While still on the layer mask, let’s go Filter – Blur – Gaussian Blur (Filter> Blur> Gaussian Blur). Install Radius (radius) blur, which is shown in the screenshot below.

Step 5

Change the blending mode for this layer to Lightening (Screen), and also reduce the value Opacity (Opacity) up to 85%.

5. Combine the object

Step 1

Go to layer Main photo (Main Photo), now right-click on this layer in the layers panel and select the option in the window that appears Overlay options (Blending Options). Apply layer style Gradient overlay (Gradient Overlay). Set the following settings for this layer style, which are shown in the screenshot below:

Step 2

Hold the key (Ctrl), click on the thumbnail of the layer with the selected image of the girl to load the active selection, and then go Selection – Modification – Compress (Select> Modify> Contract). Set the value Compression (Contract) 30 px and press the ‘OK’ button.

Step 3

Let’s go Layer – Mask Layer – Show Selected Area (Layer> Layer Mask> Reveal Selection).

Step 4

Let’s go Filter – Blur – Gaussian Blur (Filter> Blur> Gaussian Blur). Install Radius (radius) blur, which is shown in the screenshot below:

6. Add light effects to key areas of the image.

Step 1

Now we need to lighten the key areas in the image of the object, taking into account the direction of the light source. Go to layer Main photo (Main Photo), and then we go Layer – New – Copy to New Layer (Layer> New> Layer Via Copy). Next, double-click on the name of the new layer, to give a new name, name this layer Original photo (Original Photo).

Step 2

Now we need to remove the layer mask and clear the layer style of this layer. So let’s go Layer – Mask Layer – Delete (Layer> Layer Mask> Delete) to remove the layer mask, and then go Layer – Layer Style – Clear Layer Style (Layer> Layer Style> Clear Layer Style) to remove the layer style.

Step 3

The whole object is now lit, but we do not want this, so we need to create a new layer mask for this layer. Let’s go Layer – Layer Mask – Hide All (Layer> Layer Mask> Hide All) and then select the tool Brush (Brush Tool (B)), select a soft round brush, press the ‘D’ key to set the foreground color to white, now just paint over key areas of your object in accordance with the direction of light.

Step 4

Now let’s add some contrast to the lighted areas of our object. To do this, go to the layer Original photo (Original Photo), press the ‘D’ key to set the default colors, and then go Layer – New Adjustment Layer – Gradient Map (Layer> New Adjustment Layer> Gradient Map) to create a new adjustment layer with a gradient map. Name this layer ContrastOriginal photo (Original Photo Contrast). Click the ‘OK’ button.

The contrast will be applied to the whole image, but we want to apply the contrast only to the lighted areas, so let’s go Layer – Create Clipping Mask (Layer> Create Clipping Mask).

Step 5

Change the blending mode for the adjustment layer. Gradient map (Gradient Map) on Overlap (Overlay) and also reduce Opacity (Opacity) up to 11%.

7. Add particles

Step 1

Now we will add small particles. Let’s go Layer – New – Layer (Layer> New> Layer) to create a new layer. You can leave the default layer name, since we will remove this layer in the following steps. Press the ‘D’ key to set the foreground color to black and then go Editing – Run Fill – Foreground Color (Edit> Fill> Foreground Color).

Step 2

Now we go Filter – Making – Mezzotint (Filter> Pixelate> Mezzotint). In the settings window of this filter, set Fonts (type) on Large points (Coarse Dots). Next, go Selection – Color Range (Select> Color Range) and using the tool Pipette (Eyedropper Tool), select the white color by clicking on any white particles in the image, also set Scatter (Fuzziness) at 200.

Step 3

Now we go Selection – Refine Edge (Select> Refine Edge). Set the following settings in the settings window of this tool, which are shown in the screenshot below. Then we go Layer – New – Layer (Layer> New> Layer) to create a new layer. Name this layer Particles 1 (Particles_1).

Step 4

Press the ‘D’ key and then press the ‘X’ key to set the foreground color to white, and then go Editing – Run Fill (Edit> Fill), apply the settings that are shown in the screenshot below. Next, go Selection – Deselect Selection (Select> Deselect) go to layer Layer 1 (Layer 1), and then we go Layer – Delete – Layer (Layer> Delete> Layer).

Step 5

Change the blending mode for this particulate layer to Overlap (Overlay) and depending on how many particles you want to add, you can repeat the whole procedure to create more particles. I repeated the action twice, so I had, in general, three layers of particles.

Step 6

Now go to the topmost layer of particles (in my case, this is the layer Particles 1 (Particles_1)), while holding down the (Shift) key, select the last layer with particles (in my case, this is the Particles 3 (Particles_3). Next, go Layer – New – Group of Layers (Layer> New> Group from Layers). Name the new group Particles (Particles).

Step 7

Create an active selection around the image of your object. To do this, hold down the key (Ctrl) and click on the layer thumbnail. Main photo (Main Photo). Press the ‘D’ key to set the foreground color to black, and then go Layer – Mask Layer – Show Selected Area (Layer> Layer Mask> Reveal Selection). While still on the layer mask, let’s go Image – Correction – Inversion (Image> Adjustments> Invert) to invert the layer mask.

Step 8

While still on the layer mask, let’s go Window – Properties (Window> Properties). In the settings panel Properties (Properties), install Feathering (Feather) to 160 px, and also reduce Opacity (Opacity) up to 54%.

8. Create a color background.

Step 1

Now we will create a beautiful color background. Let’s go Layer – New Adjustment Layer – Color Balance (Layer> New Adjustments Layer> Color Balance) to create a color balance adjustment layer. Name this adjustment layer Color background (Color Look).

Step 2

Double click on the thumbnail of the adjustment layer. Color Balance (Color Balance) to set the following settings, which are shown in the screenshot below:

9. Carry out the final color correction.

Step 1

Next, we will perform a final color correction of the whole picture, using several adjustment layers. First, we increase the saturation. Let’s go Layer – New Adjustment Layer – Hue / Saturation (Layer> New Adjustment Layer> Hue / Saturation) to create a new Hue / Saturation adjustment layer. Name this adjustment layer Saturation of the whole picture (Overall Saturation).

Step 2

Double click on the thumbnail of the adjustment layer. Hue / Saturation (Hue / Saturation) to set the following settings, which are shown in the screenshot below:

Step 3

Next, we will add an adjustment layer. Gradient map (Gradient Map) to enhance the contrast. Press the ‘D’ key to set the foreground / background color to default, and then go Layer – New Adjustment Layer – Gradient Map (Layer> New Adjustment Layer> Gradient Map) to create a new adjustment layer with a gradient map. Name this adjustment layer The contrast of the whole picture (Overall Contrast).

Step 4

Change the blending mode for the adjustment layer. Gradient map (Gradient Map) on Overlap (Overlay) and also reduce Opacity (Opacity) layer up to 31%.

Step 5

Now we will make the brightness correction. So let’s go Layer – New Adjustment Layer – Levels (Layer> New Adjustment Layer> Levels) to create a new adjustment layer levels. Name this adjustment layer Brightness of the whole picture (Overall Brightness).

Step 6

Double click on the thumbnail of the adjustment layer. Levels (Levels) to set the following settings, which are shown in the screenshot below:

Step 7

In conclusion, let’s add some sharpness to our picture. Press the keys (Ctrl + Alt + Shift + E) to create a merged layer from all visible layers. Next, go Filter – Other – Color Contrast (Filter> Other> High Pass). Install Radius (radius) by 2 px.

Step 8

Double click on the name of this layer to rename it, name this layer Sharpness of the whole picture (Overall Sharpening). Change the blending mode for this layer to Hard light (Hard Light) and also reduce Opacity (Opacity) layer to about 64%.

10. You did it!

Congratulations, you did it! You can see the final result in the screenshot below:

11. Change the design

Now you can change the final design; I will give you some tips on how to do this:

  • Go to layer Light source (Light Source), double click on it to change angle (Angle) and / or Scale (Scale).
  • Switch to layer layer mask Original photo (Original Photo), select a tool Brush (Brush Tool (B)), select a soft brush and using a white / black brush, paint over the different areas that need to be lit.
  • Go to layer Background Color (Background Color), double click on it to change color.
  • Go to layer Color background (Color Look), double click on its layer thumbnail and inside the panel Properties (Properties), change the settings to change the background color.

The result that I got:

If you want to create a more complex magic shading effect, as in the screenshot below, with just one click, then use my Action Dark Fantasy in Photoshop (https://graphicriver.net/item/dark-fantasy-photoshop-action/ 13467329).

The action works in such a way that you just have to paint the brush over the object of your photo, and then turn on the action, and the action does everything for you by creating and adjusting all the layers. The action will also create for you 25 colors. Attached to the action detailed video tutorial that will show you how to customize and change the design to get the maximum result from the effect.

The final result:

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