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

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!

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Christina Roth

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 AsheDesign.com or sign up for our email list for beautiful and creative design ideas for any occasion.