Mar 03, 2016

How to Create a Beautiful Sunset Effect in Photoshop

How to Create a Beautiful Sunset Effect in Photoshop

Adding a sunset effect to a photo can be done in a couple of easy steps, and makes a huge Difference in a back-lit image. First, make sure the image is lit from behind so the sun is visible. Next, create a custom Radial Gradient to mimic the sun. The gradient should go from white, to orange, to red. Then, add a Layer Mask so the sun only shows up in small circe. Blur the circle, and the sun is complete! Follow the rest of the tutorial to Color-match the image to the sunset.

Download Sunset Gradient

Enter your email below to and we will email a download link for the sunset gradient we used in this episode.

Coloring the Image to Match the Sunset

After applying the sunset gradient to the photo, it is important to Color match the rest of the photo. Use a ‘Color BalanceAdjustment Layer and click on “Highlights‘ to increase red and green Levels, and to decrease blue Levels. If needed, mask in the area around the sunset for better color matching.

Add Blue to the Shadows

Blue and gold look great together, and adding Color into the Shadows of an image is a great way to introduce Complimentary Colors. To create a ‘Cross Process‘ color effect, start by making a new ‘Solid Color’ Adjustment Layer and choosing a dark blue. Change the Blend Mode to ‘Lighten‘ and it will only show up in the Shadows of your image. After creating the ‘Solid Color’ adjustment layer, it is easy to change the color. Double click on the adjustment layer and choose a new color from the color picker window.


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  • user image

    Loved the tutorial but I wondered why you didn’t adjust the blues in the shadows using the colour balance dialog?

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      This is a great shot! Would love to find these opportunities. There is no way I would leave that fence in there as you could keep this age agnostic and not just modern.

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    Craig Ozancin

    This is a very cool tutorial. I have a number of shots where this will come in very handy. Thank you Aaron!

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    These short videos are perfect. They are great reminders of what I’ve previously learned but forgotten. Plus, Arron, you great at reducing all the details – not skipping a step – to a manageable amount. Thanks! so much. Have fun in Mexico.

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    Larry Mitchell Bueno

    Hello Phlearn People,
    Wow what a difference pictures can look. I’ll know now how to work this tool.
    .About 6 month ago i started using Photoshop and watching you clips on how to work programs and loving it everyday . Thank you for making a difference in my pictures. Attach is an image I had to do small amount of editing but work with a little more now.
    Thank you for all Great tutorials you bring us. Keep them coming.
    (Larry) Lawrence Mitchell Bueno
    MB Photography 1st

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      Hello again,

      Sorry didn’t included an image with the gradient tool. Attach is what i did after watching the tutorial . Hope you like this.
      Have a great day

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    I can only say that I so enjoy your tutorials Aaron. You explain it all so well. And the repeat at the end is perfect to refresh your mind for me. Thanks again your AWSOME!????

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    Brandi Douglas

    Thank you so much! I was working on this photo and then started looking through your tutorials to see what I could add. Then I found this one!

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    I had taken this photo in my garage and don’t like the goggle reflection. Would rather have it be a reflection of snow or a ski slope feel like she was there. What’s the best way to do that?

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    Thank you so much!
    I downloaded the gradient, how do I get it into the Photoshop actions?

    Love your work!! you are a true inspirations

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    Love your tutorials, so informative and very well explained. Hope that you enjoy Mexico, but please keep those wonderful tutorials coming! I bought you pinup poster for my husband as a Christmas present. He loved it!. Thanks.

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    Where do I open up the gradient once I down load it? it didn’t show up in my actions.

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    Thank you for this tutorial! I love the results, these guys look much happier basking in a warm sunset.

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    David Allen

    Last comment was submitted unfinished by accident! Sorry about that.

    Used the technique I learned from this tutorial and got a pretty neat result! Thanks for everything you all do to make us better editors!!

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    David Lledó

    Thank you very much Aaron, so beautiful, easy and fun effect. I’m enjoing all your tutorials.
    In this case, I think it’s interesting to use the lens camera filter (as a smart object, to get less oppacity). The image gets a bit more artistic look (one of the short cases to use this filter ahah).


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    cavain march

    love you tutorials keep up the good work.
    I did mine slightly different because with the girl being in doors and all.

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    good evening, is it possible for you to send me this action sir to download?
    if so thank you in advance, love your videos

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    Rohan Pius

    I would like to have sunset gradient used in your beautiful sunset effect.

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    Craig Ravenscroft

    I have to say a huge thanks to Arron and his team for so clearly teaching this awesome and invaluable technique… my test result of my friend is attached as you can see.

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    Kathrin Schierl

    Thanx for the really amazing explaining in the tutorials. I love them!

    I have Just a problem with the gradient options, which don’t pop up.
    I’ve downloaded the gradient and saved it under photoshp presets. I also can load
    up the white/yellow/red gradient, but the tools to work with it, are not visible.
    Please could you tell me, which adjustments I have to do?

    Thanks in advanced!