Create a Cast of Light in Your Image using Photoshop or Elements


Light sources add depth and interest to your images immediately. By simply adding some window light to this image we added depth and warmth. If you have an image that you love, but it’s falling a little flat, consider adding some light! With just a few simple steps you can add beautiful light to your images.

Follow these steps to create a cast of light – works in Photoshop and Elements

Window Light Cast Before

Window Light Cast After

One thing you’ll want to pay special attention to is pre-existing lighting in your image. Make sure the light source you add works with and compliments your image. You can adjust the angles and direction of your added lights to make them work together so your image is both believable and beautiful.

Let’s get started. Follow these simple steps to make your compositions shine!

Step 1: Start with a light source

This can be an image you’ve taken, something you’ve designed or something you’ve purchased. We are using a light element from our Window Cast Light Set. Choose a light source and shape that you want to bring into your composition.

NOTE: if you want to follow along and try this on one of your images we’re happy to provide our set of Light Casts to you for free. Go here to download them – use the code: FREEBIE when you checkout to get them at no charge.

Step 2: Add the light source to your image

If you have your image and the light source both open in Photoshop, you can use your selection tool to drag the light source to your image. Alternatively, you can also copy (Control + C) the window shape layer in Photoshop (or PSE). Open your image and paste (Control + V) the window shape layer into your image.

In this case, we placed the light source over our image. Next we adjusted our Layer Blending Mode by setting it to “vivid light” and then adjusted our opacity and fill on the light source until we achieved the desired look. You’ll want to play around with these settings to get the right look for your image.

Window Light Cast La ED2363

Step 3: Adjust the shape of your light

Next, you’ll transform the window shape to your liking. Go to Edit>Transform>Distort and then move the corners to create the
shape that works best with your image.

Window Light Cast Transform

Step 4: Soften your light

Now you want to soften the edges of your light so that it is not so harsh. Use the Gaussian Blur filter (Edit>Blur>Gaussian Blur) to soften the edges to your taste. In this case, we set the blur amount to 5. Adjust the amount of blur up and down to see how it softens the light in your image.

Window Light Cast Blur

Step 5: Fade your light source for a more natural look

Now you’ll add a Layer Mask to your window shape layer. First, select your layer, and then click the Add Layer Mask Button at the bottom of your Layers Palette. Click on the new Layer Mask in the layer to make sure it’s selected. (VERY IMPORTANT STEP!)

Window Light Cast La ED283A

After adding a layer mask to the light cast layer, set your color palette to black and white, with black in the foreground color. Then use the gradient tool set to “foreground to transparent” to fade the light off.

Window Light Cast Gradient

Simply click into your layer mask and drag your cursor from one end (this will be 0% opacity) to where you’d like to see the light at 100% opacity. If you don’t like your results, fill the mask with white and start over.

Window Light Cast Gr ED2331

Step 6: Position the window shape to your liking.

Use your Selection Tool to adjust the position of your light layer to the desired location in your image. You can also use a soft black brush set to 30% opacity to subtly brush away the window light in the layer mask. We did this to remove extra light from her face.

Congratulations! You’ve successfully added a beautiful, warm light effect to your image to create more depth and interest in your image.

Window Light Cast Before

Window Light Cast After

Your turn!

If you’ve tried out this technique please share your images in the comments below, and please ask if you have questions!

Read more from our Post Production category

Christina Roth is the marketing director for Ashe Design, a leading template designer for professional photographers around the world. We design beautiful and easy-to-use Photoshop and Lightroom templates that help photographers design beautiful photo books, cards, collages and more for their clients. All of our designs are affordable and easy to use. Visit us online at or sign up for our email list for beautiful and creative design ideas for any occasion.

  • Vibhas Devnani

    Great article! …and thank you for the free download of the light casts!!!

  • Sonja Ashe

    Thanks so much! Enjoy the Light Cast. We’d love to see your finished design share on our Facebook page:

  • Mark Treen

    This is wonderful, thanks for the idea!

  • Sonja Ashe

    You bet, Mark. Glad you enjoyed it!

  • Sally

    Where do you save the download to?

  • Sonja Ashe

    You’ll want to save it to a folder on your computer and then open one of the light cast files in Photoshop.

  • sally

    But which folder do I save it in? Ok I think I now realise it’s not a brush, or a gradient etc it’s just like a new image.

  • Sonja Ashe

    Correct. It’s a png file that you’ll open and place over you image, then follow the tutorial to get the same effect in your image.

  • Shadow

    What is frustrating that even after registering and using the freebie code and going through to Paypal I am told I cannot download because Paypal wont accept a zero balance 🙁 I do not want to use a credit card so how can I download?

  • Susan Montgomery

    @shadow – There is another option when the balance is zero, the credit card option change to one that reads something like “no source needed, balance is zero” That worked for me.

  • Not sure but I tested it before posting the article and it worked for me too

  • Sonja Ashe

    As Susan mentioned above, just choose the option that says no payment information required and you’ll be able to download the file. Sorry you had some troubles. If you need more help you can email us at

  • I knew the trick, but many thanks for the free resources, should speed up the process a little

  • Neveli Niit

    Can someone send me those lightcasts? Realy can’t download them… my email:

  • Inge Hartgerink

    Thanks very much for the article, the clear instructions and the free downloads, that is very generous !

  • Sonja Ashe

    You’re welcome. I’m so glad you enjoyed it!

  • Sonja Ashe

    Please contact our customer service department at and Sandy will help you.

  • Sonja Ashe

    Awesome! You’re welcome, Steven.

  • Zakaria Rmidi

    Thanks for the illustrations .. I’m a GIMP user .. I’ll see how I can work this out since those technical words are almost the same on PS and GIMP.

  • Angie

    Thank you for the freebie and the tutorial!

  • Where do you adjust the fill (step 2) in Elements?

  • Sonja Ashe

    You’re welcome, Angie. Enjoy!

  • Sonja Ashe

    Ruth, in Elements you are limited to adjusting only the opacity. You should be able to get similar effects. The opacity is found in the layers palette on Elements.

  • Sonja Ashe

    Yes. There is the option that says “no payment information required.” Choose that when you check out.

  • I’m pretty sure Elements has blend modes as well. I’ve done a demo of a different technique in my classes and people using Elements followed along no problem.

  • Did anyone try this and want to share your images with us? I’d love to see them

  • Lucy

    Does it work with a mac?

  • Sonja Ashe

    Yes, it works just the same on Mac as long as you have Photoshop.

  • Igor

    Nothing in this life comes easy. To achieve their objectives need to make certain sacrifices – to spend their energy, time, limit yourself to anything. Sometimes there are moments when you want to quit and give up the dream. At such moments, remember how much you will get if you go on and how much to lose if you surrender. Success Rate, usually less than the cost of failure.

  • Rosie Squires

    Great tutorial, and thanks for the free light casts, lovely.

  • Lara Constantine

    Very nice!

  • Xo?n Tóc Qu?n

    Nice tut, I like it! 😀

  • asodifjsdfij

    No, mac sux

  • Did you use LR ?

  • Nathan

    Oh..nice very nice tutorial. But it seems the light casts are no more freebie…? 🙁

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