Add light from the window to Photoshop

In this lesson, we will learn how to give ordinary photos more brightness and expressiveness by adding light that will fall through the window onto the main object. You will need a photo to which you will add light, and a photo of the window. If you do not have a picture of the window, find some image on the Internet. Do not spend a lot of time searching, as we will not use the window itself, but only its outline.

To add light, we will use the Levels adjustment layer with a layer mask, and to enhance the light effect at the end we will consider using a special blend mode. At first glance, this may seem complicated, but in reality everything is simple. You should not confine yourself to a window as a source of light – the field of activity for creating this effect is extensive. You can dream up and invent any other object through which the light will fall, which will lead to incredible results!

Here is the image from which I will start the work – the girl standing in front of the wall. The wall is so bright that it is a little difficult to look at the girl’s face:

Source image

This is how the image will look after changing the light level, after we add light from the window, falling on the girl’s face and the wall behind her. This will give photos more brightness, clarity and some drama. You will also see clearly the girl’s face

Final result

Let’s start!

Step 1

In order to get started, we need to open a photo of a girl and a photo of a window in Photoshop. You have already seen the photo of the girl, but the image of the window that I will use:

Open both photos in Photoshop.

With both photos open in separate windows, select the tool. “Moving” (Move Tool) on the toolbar:

Select the Move tool.

You can also choose a tool. “Moving”, pressing the V key on the keyboard. After selecting the tool, click the mouse anywhere on the photo window, and while holding the mouse button down, drag the image into the main photo window with the girl:

Drag the photo of the window onto the photo with the girl using the tool “Moving”.

When you release the mouse button, a photo of the window will appear inside the main image:

A window appeared inside the main image.

If you look at the layers panel, you will see that the main image is on the Background layer, and the window image is on a separate Layer 1 layer:

The layers panel shows two separate layers.

Step 2

Now that the photo with the window is located on the main image, we need to select the window along the contour.
Depending on the shape of the window, you need a tool to select it. “Rectangular area” (Rectangular Marquee Tool) or “Oval area” (Elliptical Marquee Tool).

If you are having trouble working with selection tools, refer to our Lesson All about Selecting Tools in Photoshop.

You can use the tool to select a window of a more complex shape. “Pen” ( Pen Tool), which I did in my case, to select six window openings. If you need help with working with the tool, read our lesson “How to select objects using the“ Pen ”:

To select the internal window openings, use the appropriate tool in Photoshop.

Step 3

After selecting the outline of the window, we no longer need a photo with a window on the main image, so click on the layer with the window (Layer 1) on the layers panel and drag it to the basket icon in the lower right corner of the panel to delete:

Delete “Layer 1” by selecting it and dragging it to the trashcan icon at the bottom of the layers panel.

This action will remove the layer with the window, but the selection itself, which we did, will remain:

The outlines of the window will remain on the main image.

Step 4: Invert Selection

To create light that will fall through the window, we will use the “Levels” adjustment layer to darken the image everywhere except the inside of the window’s outlines. In order to do this, we need to select everything, excluding the outlines of the window.

At the moment, we have highlighted the opposite – only the outline of the window without everything else. For the desired result, we need to invert the selection, i.e. swapping areas – what is currently selected will become unmarked, and what is not selected will be highlighted. To achieve this, we need to select the item “Selection” (Select) in the menu bar at the top of the screen and beyond “Inversion” (Inverse).

We can also press Shift + Ctrl + I / Shift + Command + I to perform the inversion.

Regardless of which inversion method you choose, as a result you will see a selection frame appear on the outer edge of the image. This will mean that everything in the image, except the outline of the window, is highlighted:

Invert the selection so that everything becomes selected except for the window outline.

Step 5

Click on the icon “New adjustment layer” (New Adjustment Layer) at the bottom of the layers panel:

Click on the “New Adjustment Layer” icon at the bottom of the layers panel.

Then select “Levels” (Levels) from the list of adjustment layers that appears:

Select the “Levels” adjustment layer from the list.

As a result, the “Levels” layer dialog box will appear on the screen, with which we will work to darken our image and create a light effect.

Step 6

Since we now have everything except the outlines of the window, we can easily darken the image and create a light effect using adjustment layer “Levels”. If you look at the bottom of the Levels dialog box, you will see a horizontal gradient scale with a small black slider at the left and a white slider at the right.

These sliders are called Output Levels sliders and determine how bright or dark an image can be. If you do not change the position of the sliders, the image will be presented in the entire tonal range. In other words, all tones and semitones from completely black to completely white are displayed. Usually, this is what we want.

However, in some cases, such as when creating our light effect, we need to define the boundaries of the tonal range of the image. In our case, we want to darken the image, and the easiest way to do this is to limit the brightness limit by clicking on the white output slider and dragging it to the left. As you move the slider, the image will become darker and darker as we change the limit of the degree of brightness.

The only area of ​​the image that is not affected by the slider, and which therefore does not become darker, is not the highlighted inside of the window silhouette. Its brightness level remains the same, and this allows us to get a light effect.

So, start moving the white slider to the left and see how the image changes:

Move the white output slider to the left to darken the image except for the inside of the window outline.

As you move the slider to the left and darken the image, light will appear, as if falling through a window:

When you move the white slider to the left and darken the image, a light will appear falling through the window.

How dark the image becomes will depend on your desire, so move the slider until you are satisfied with the result. Then click OK to exit the Levels dialog box.

Step 7

Key pressed Ctrl / Command , Click the thumbnail of the layer mask for the “Levels” adjustment layer on the layers panel. This action will re-display the selection inside our image:

While holding down the Ctrl / Command key, click on the thumbnail of the layer mask for the “Levels” adjustment layer to reload the selection.

Step 8

We need to again perform an inversion so that only the area inside the window silhouette becomes selected. To do this, press Shift + Ctrl + I / Shift + Command + I, and the outlines of the window will be highlighted again:

Perform an inversion again, so that the outlines of the window are again highlighted.

Step 9

Press Ctrl + T / Command + T to bring up the frame. free transformation (Free Transform) in the silhouette area of ​​the window, then move the silhouette and resize it as you need.

To move the outlines of the window, just click with the mouse inside the transformation frame (anywhere except the small icon in the form of a sight in the center) and, while holding the button down, move the silhouette to the desired area. To change the size of the outlines of the window, pull on any marker in the form of a square along the contour of the transformation frame.

If you need to maintain the proportions of the silhouette of the window, pull at any of the four corner markers of the frame while holding down the Shift key. In my case, I enlarge the outlines of the window and move the silhouette so that the light through the left lower window opening falls on the girl:

Move the silhouette of the window with light to the desired location and resize it with the Free Transform tool.

Press Enter / Return after completing the transformation, then the key combination Ctrl + D / Command + D to cancel the selection.

Step 10

The only problem that arose after applying the transformation was the presence of too clear edges on the window silhouette to make the lighting unrealistic. Let’s smooth them by applying Gaussian blur.

To do this, refer to the Filter menu bar at the top of the screen, select a section from the list Blur (Blur) and then – “Gaussian blur” (Gaussian Blur). I set the blur radius to soften the edges – 5 pixels. If your image has a higher resolution, you may need to specify more pixels to blur.

As you move the radius slider at the bottom of the dialog box, watch your image to determine how much you need to blur it (it is always better to make a decision, focusing on the result of the preview, than to set values ​​that fit the other image):

Smooth the edges of the window silhouette using a Gaussian blur.

Click OK to apply the blur and close the dialog box. Here is what my image looks like after softening the clear edges of the window silhouette:

An image after applying a Gaussian blur to soften the sharp edges of the window silhouette.

Step 11

The next few steps are optional, and you can stop at this point if you want, but I’m going to make the effect more realistic by darkening the bottom corners of the window silhouette. To do this, select on the toolbar “Gradient” (Gradient Tool) or press the key G:

Select the Gradient tool.

Step 12

The foreground color and default background color should be selected as white and black respectively, but if for some reason they are not specified, press the D key to restore the original colors. If you look at the foreground color and background color swatches at the bottom of the toolbar, you should see white (foreground color) on the upper left square, and black (background color) on the lower right square:

Foreground color and toolbar background color swatches.

Step 13

Having selected the Gradient tool with white as the foreground color and black as the background color, right-click anywhere on the image to open the gradient palette and select the first gradient in the upper left corner – gradient transition from foreground color to background color :

Right-click anywhere in the image and select a gradient from foreground color to background color from the gradient palette.

Step 14

Click in the lower left corner of the silhouette of the window and slightly drag the gradient towards the center to add a white-black transition in the corner. We do not add a gradient to the image itself. Work happens with layer mask of the “Levels” adjustment layer:

Stretch the gradient slightly from the bottom left corner towards the center to add a white-black transition in the corner.

When you release the mouse button, Photoshop will add a short gradient to the layer mask, and you will see the lower left corner of the window silhouette darken a bit:

Now the light stops falling through the window in the lower left corner.

Do the same with the bottom right corner. Click in the lower right corner of the window silhouette and drag the gradient towards the center:

Stretch the gradient slightly from the bottom right corner towards the center to add a white-black transition in the corner.

When you release the mouse button, Photoshop will add a second short white-black gradient to the layer mask, and you will see how the lower right corner of the window silhouette also darkens a bit:

Now the light stops falling through the window and in the lower right corner, as well as in the left.

To complete the picture, I’m going to give the light a little more saturation. This is what I’ll do now.

Step 15

We’re going to finish the effect, giving the light from the window a little more brightness. Again, this is not a mandatory action, but it is very easy to perform.
Key pressed Ctrl / Command , once again click the mouse on the thumbnail of the layer mask for the “Levels” adjustment layer on the layers panel:

While holding down the Ctrl / Command key, click on the thumbnail of the layer mask on the layers panel:

This action will again display the selection of the area inside the image, except for the outlines of the window:

The highlight is again displayed on the image. Everything is highlighted, except for the outlines of the window with light.

Step 16

To perform an inversion and select only the silhouette of a window with light, press Shift + Ctrl + I / Shift + Command + I:

Invert the selection so that only the silhouette of the window with light becomes selected. The rest of the image is not selected.

Step 17

Click the icon again. “New adjustment layer” (New Adjustment Layer) at the bottom of the layers panel and select from the list of layers “Levels” (Levels) to add a second adjustment layer:

Add a second level adjustment layer.

When the “Levels” layer dialog box opens, just click OK in the upper right corner to exit it. We do not need to change anything in the window settings. If we now look at the layers panel, we will see the second “Levels” adjustment layer above the original:

The layers panel shows us on the top line the second adjustment layer “Levels”.

Step 18

To enhance the brightness of the light falling through the window, all we need is to go to the blending mode window in the upper left corner of the layers panel and change the mode. By default, layers always have an overlay mode. “Normal” (“Normal”). Click on the triangle to the right of the word “Normal” and select the mode from the list that appears. “Clarification”(Screen):

Change the blending mode of the second adjustment layer “Levels” from “Normal” to “Brightening”.

As soon as you change the blending mode to “Brighten”, you will see how the brightness of the light in the image will increase significantly:

The light falling through the window became much brighter after setting the blending mode “Brightening”.

Step 19

If you, like me, think that the light has become too bright, you can reduce its brightness by selecting “Opacity” (Opacity) in the upper right corner of the layers panel (directly opposite the overlay mode window) and decreasing the index value until you are satisfied with the result. I will reduce the opacity to 70%:

Adjust the brightness of the light by reducing the opacity of the adjustment layer.

And here we are done! Once again for comparing the original image:

Source image

And after performing all the actions – the final image with the resulting effect of light falling through the window:

Final result.

We did it!

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