Final Product What You’ll Be Creating

One of the best sites around for desktops has to be Desktopography. I’ve been inspired by their amazing work, so today we are going to put together a sunset image mixing some vector shapes and dusky lighting effects to produce a slick image that would make a nice album cover for a chillout mix!

Photoshop Lighting Effects
Photoshop Lighting Effects

Steps and Assets
As always you can download the PSD file to follow along at the bottom of this tutorial. It’s a pretty large file so be warned! Additionally we are using a few assets including a photo from iStockPhoto and some vectors from Arsenal’s Freebie Section. Note that in the sample PSD, I’ve merged some text onto the original image to protect its copyright since it’s such a large copy.

Step 1:

So here’s our original photo from iStock. It’s a pretty gorgeous photo with great sunset lighting and contrast for us to build on.
Lighting Effects Using PhotoshopStep 2:
First off we duplicate the photo, press Ctrl-Shift-U to desaturate the image to Black and White. Then go to Image > Adjustments > Brightness/Contrast and make the image a bit brighter and contrastier as shown.
Lighting Effects Using Photoshop
Step 3:
Now go to Filters > Blur > Gaussian Blur and apply a mild blur of 2px.
Lighting Effects Using Photoshop
Step 4:
Now we set the blurred black and white layer to blending mode Overlay and Opacity 50%. This gives us a slightly surreal blurring on the image. BE WARNED: This effect (blurring then overlaying) is a bit of favorite of amateurs, so go easy on it. When you do use it, make sure you fade it out a reasonable amount so it doesn’t look too tacky.
Lighting Effects Using Photoshop
Step 5:
Now the lighting is pretty nice already, but I’d like some pinkish hues in the image as it makes the image a lot warmer than bluish colors.
So in a new layer, use the Paintbucket to fill with a bright pink color. Then use the Eraser Tool with a large, soft brush and remove some areas where you don’t want as much pink to shine through (this was pretty arbitrary for me and just gives the image more depth rather it being uniformly colored). We then set the blending mode to Color and 20% Opacity. Actually I did those two steps the other way around (I blended first then erased the bits I didn’t want).
Lighting Effects Using Photoshop
Step 6:
Here’s the image after adding the pink.
Lighting Effects Using Photoshop
Step 7:
Now to make the sun rays, we are going to use a combination of glowing edges and radial blurring. So duplicate the original colored layer and put it on top of all the other layers. Then go to Filter > Stylize > Glowing Edges and use settings of 1, 11, and 15 respectively for Width, Brightness, and Smoothness.
Lighting Effects Using Photoshop