Bring Light Sources to Life
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Enhancing a Light Source With Color
A great way to make a light source appear as if it’s lighting its surroundings is to create a color cast. Hue and saturation do a great job of pumping up the vibrance of the glowing orb, and by giving the rest of the image a greenish tint using curves the light looks much more bright and powerful. You can even add warmth to the shadows of your photo to create more of a contrast.
Bring The Light to Life
While lens flares don’t really fit into a majority of images, they work great for sci-fi images such as this one. By using parts of the original image and manipulating them to create a lens flare, you’ll end up with something much more organic looking. By using another curves adjustment layer, we add a deep greenish tint to the orb. This is a small detail, but it helps to give the light more depth and interest.
Before & After
Today we’re going to show you how to bring a ball of energy to life in Photoshop. Hey guys welcome to Phlearn and my name is Aaron Nace and you can fine me on Twitter at AKNacer. Today we’re taking a really cool image and it was submitted by AP in last week’s contest and won a Phlearn Pro for this image and we’re editing it here on Phlearn. This is a very cool image and basically, he cloned himself multiple times and he has a light source that he’s actually using in kind of like in a Street Fighter tactic, which Street Fighter is pretty cool with me. We’re going to be showing you guys how to enhance this a little bit more. We’re going to use some colors and create some light flares and it’s a really, really cool effect, so let’s go ahead in get into it.
So here’s our image and it’s really cool. We have a light glowing effect and basically, this is going to be blinding everyone and maybe he’s even going to be throwing it at the person here. We have a blue light coming s well, so we’re going to take some of these queues that are already in this image with the blue light and enhance him a little bit more. To do that it’s actually really simple, we’re going to grab an adjustment layer and I’m going to go to hue/saturation.
Now a lot of people edit this here like the master slider where you can kind of change the hue/saturation of everything and that’s totally cool, but you can actually get this quite a bit more refined. You can do so by going over here to your master and let’s say, we’re going to go down to our blue channel … sorry it’s not your blue it’s just your blues. Now I’m going to choose the eye dropper and actually choose around the blues I want to edit, so now instead of saying this is a general blue and we’re going to edit actually this blue that we can see here.
From here I can take it and change it around and you can see it’s not really affecting his skin tones or anything it’s just changing that blue. I’m going to put maybe just a little bit of green in in and maybe we’re going to bump up our saturation just to make this … it really is a very bright glowing light orb. There we go. Pumping that up just a little bit. To enhance that a little bit more, we’re going to add that effect over the top of the entire image. We’re going to go to our curves adjustment layer and I’m going to go over here to our green channel and I’m going to pull our greens up just a bit, there we go and pull our blues up.
Now I don’t want to do just blue, because there was a little bit of green in there, so almost like a teal color and that’s why we went to both our blue channel and our green channel. Now we started off with this and we added a little of color in there and just changed it a little bit, added the saturation and then basically, brought that color into the whole image, so it really does look as though that light source … you can see it here especially in the subjects here on the left, it really does look as though it’s lighting them just a little bit more than what we started with, so already really cool.
Now you can work a lot with complementary colors on an image like this if you’re adding blues and greens to the highlights, you can add warm colors into the shadows and it’s going to create a really nice play. You can do that really easily a couple of ways. I’m actually going to do … I’m going to use a way that I … I don’t think I’ve ever shown before, because it’s not incredibly common, but I like showing you guys different ways to do things. What we’re going to do is, I’m going to choose this dark orange color. There we go. I’m going to fill my foreground with this color, so hold down alt or option and it’s going to fill with your foreground color. Okay, so we have this color and now we’re going to change this layer mode down to lighten. Basically, what this is going to do is anything that is actually lighter than this color it’s not going to show up and anything that’s darker than this color it is going to show up. This is a really great method for adding some color into your shadows.
Now it’s not exactly what we want it to be just yet, not a big deal. What I’m going to do is hit command U and then we can actually change the color of this layer, so I can change maybe the lightness and just bring that down a little bit. I can bring up my saturation and I can even change my hue as we need to. There we go. You can see this is a really nice easy way to bring some color into those shadows––let’s hit okay––and still maintain quite a bit of control. There is the before and after of bringing that color in. Maybe we’ll bring down our opacity a little bit. It’s just warming up our shadows a little bit, which is going to create a nicer contrast with the highlights in that bluish green color.
You can do a similar thing with curves or levels and I’ll show you guys how to do that as well. Here in curves you could grab your green channel. Let’s go down here and bring this up … sorry I meant to grab the red channel. All right, the red channel we’ll click over here and drag that up, which is going to add some reds into the shadows and maybe we will go to the blue channel––there we go––and click and drag … no I want to go to the green channel again. I’m getting all confused today, but that’s part of the fun of the learning process. There we go. Okay, so you can do the same thing by warming up your shadows just a little bit there as well. Either of these techniques … they’re both going to act a little bit differently and you could even use them in conjunction with one another. I actually light this one a little bit more, so we’re going to stick with that guy. Just wanted to show you guys a couple different ways you could actually do things in Photoshop.
All right, so we have our really nice light glow and now I’m going to go ahead and enhance this a little bit more and what we’re going to do is, I’m going to create a new layer, so shift, option, command N and then shift, option, command E is going to make a stamped visible layer. Basically, this just takes every layer you see and puts it on a new layer. We’re going to put a … we’re going to go down to filter and I’m going to go over here to render and we’re going to put a lens flare on this. Lens flares are generally pretty tacky, but if you have a light source like this in your image, a lens flare is the perfect thing to do. I’m going to show you guys how to enhance it and make it not as tacky. Basically, you can move your lens flare anywhere you want, right over here. You generally want to put it right where you light source is, so I’m trying to put it right in the center of this glowing ball. We’re going to hit okay and that’s going to put a lens flare right in the middle of that guy.
Now I like to be able to move my lens flare, because if it’s stuck on this layer then I can’t move just he lens flare, I can’t change the color of it and I can’t really do anything. What I’m going to do now is fill this layer with black, so I’m going to hit shift, delete and I’m going to say contents used, black and hit okay. Now we’re going to go up to filter and I’m going to go down to lens flare and it’s going to apply the same lens flare that we used earlier. It’s just a black layer with the same lens flare on there and now we're going to change this layer from blending mode down to screen. What’s really cool is, I can turn this lens flare on and off now, because we’re using a blending mode to get the lens flare there instead of having it actually visible on a layer.
We can also do other cool things like, I can hit command U just like we did earlier with the color for here and I can change the color of the lens flare. Let’s say I want to pull it a little bit more towards the green side and then it’s actually going to work a little bit and you can see it’s going to help add to the dimension of our little glow thing there, which is totally cool. Then get these other cool lighting effects and artifacts to sale the image a little bit more. All right, almost done there are just a couple more things I want to do. I’m going to grab another curves adjustment layer. I really like adding a lot of depth to glowing effects like this, I think it helps create the effect a little bit more. What I’m going to do is, I’m going to pump up this green channel and on my layer mask I’m going to hit command I, which is going to invert that and then I’m going to use my gradient tool and we’re going to use the radial gradient going from the foreground to transparent and I’m going to hit okay. Then I’m going to click right in here and drag out. What that did is, it made a layer mask that looks like this, just a nice round area and the center of it is now green. Incredible right? It adds a little bit more effect to the overall thing.
Now I’m going to show you guys a really cool way to make a J.J. Abrams type of lens flare. If you guys have seen Star Trek or things like that, you’ll know J.J. Abrams loves lens flares and they’re really fun. What I’m going to do is, I’m going to use my clone stamp tool and we’ve got a current and below sample here, so it’s going to sample basically everything. I’m just going to sample this area and paint some of this over here. It really doesn’t matter what kind of detail you have in here, we’re just sampling the lighter areas, that’s our general goal here. Okay, so on a new layer I’ve sampled and I’ve painted this on it. You’re like, wow that looks horrible there Aaron congratulations. Well, we’re going to warp it and it’s going to look great, so there. To do that, hit command T and then you can grab your corners here and warp these around. There we go. So you have something like that. These little details in here, they’re actually going to look really nice, because it’s going to make it not look like it was painted in Photoshop, it’s going to make it look a little more organic.
Now you can change this from normal down to color dodge and let’s squish it up even more. There we go. Kind of play around with these. Isn’t that a nice J.J. Abrams like lens flare effect. It’s like, wow I’m on the set of Star Wars amazing. You can do that over and over again. You can move them around and things like that and change your opacity. Color dodge works, screen also works a couple different cool blending modes and you can play around with the opacity there. Just a really cool effect and you can see by using the clone stamp instead of a regular brush and you have this nice color with the reds a little bit of variation here with that effect and it kind of sales it a little bit more.
All right, that is how to enhance a glowing ball of energy. Let’s look at our before and after. Here’s our before a very cool image and the after we drew a little bit more attention to the light orb and just used it to help color the image just a little bit more. So a really cool way to add a little more interest to something like this. If you guys have ever created a light orb, submit it in the comment down below, I would love to see it and you guys can now J.J. Abrams the mess out of those lens flares. Guys, thanks so much for watching Phlearn and I hope you enjoyed this episode, I’ll Phlearn you later. Bye everyone.
Today’s episode is brought to you by J.J. Abrams.