Add Drama with Light: Quick and Easy Lighting Effects in Photoshop

Have you ever worked on a layout and when you were done, it seemed to need just a little something extra to make it pop or to help draw the eye to the right place? Adding a spotlight effect can be the perfect subtle change that takes a layout from good to oh-my-goodness! Plus it's so simple and easy. I'm using Photoshop CS3 in this tutorial, but the steps should be similar in any edition of Photoshop.  You will need to adapt the steps for other software programs. First, save your finished layout as a full-size JPG, then open that JPG file. Here's my before layout.

Cuddle Time 300x300 Add Drama with Light:  Quick and Easy Lighting Effects in Photoshop

  Now, go to Filter>Render>Lighting Effects. Here's where the fun begins!  Try playing around with the settings and seeing how the preview changes. If you end up selecting something that doesn't look right on your layout, just Ctrl-Z to undo and start over! I've found that the 2 o'clock spotlight Style and the Omni light type worked well for this layout. You may also need to adjust the Intensity down to 14 or less, depending on how strong you want the effect to be. I left all the Properties sliders on their default settings.

Lighting Effects menu e1330640366313 300x229 Add Drama with Light:  Quick and Easy Lighting Effects in Photoshop

You can drag the circle of light around the page, drag the edges to make it bigger or smaller, etc., depending on the effect you want and how much of the page you want lit. You can also change the color of the light by clicking on the color box to the right of the Intensity slider. I left mine a warm cream color that worked well with the mood I wanted to create. I also widened the circle quite a bit and moved it to the top right of my page to highlight the photo cluster. Here's my page after adding the spotlight. I love how it focuses attention on the photo and I think the light adds a warm, cuddly sort of feel that's perfect for my page all about my son cuddling with his aunt.

Cuddle Time jpg small 300x300 Add Drama with Light:  Quick and Easy Lighting Effects in Photoshop

 A  few more ideas for using this technique on your pages:
  • Use the Triple Spotlight style to highlight a central, prominent photo art-gallery style.
  • The Flood Light style will create a similar effect to the 2 o'clock Spotlight, but more dramatic.
  • Try the Three Down style to highlight a trio of photos.
  • Remember to adjust the Intensity to control how bright or soft the light is and to change the color as needed depending on the colors or mood of your layout.
 
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  • http://beautifulbrighteyes.blogspot.com/ Bright Eyes

    Thank you so much for this detailed and easily understood techique. Been wondering how it was done. Now to go play with it to see what I can do.

  • Antoaneta

    Thank you so much!!!!

  • JACKIE

    Thank you.