Aug 14, 2014

How to Create a Sunset in Photoshop

How to Create a Sunset in Photoshop

Shooting later in the day gives you the opportunity to add a warm “sunset Style” to your image in Photoshop. In today’s episode we show you how to Color your image to give it that warm “sunset” feel.

Choosing the Correct Photo

In order to make this effect appear real it is important to choose a photo that has the correct lighting. The first thing to look for is the placement of the sun. You will want to use an image that was shot later in the day, when the Colors in the sky warm up a bit. Next it is important that the Light source is visible in the image. A backlit image will work best, but you can also use images that are side-lit.

Coloring the Image

To create the sunset effect we are using a combination of Levels and the Gradient Tool. First we have to make the image look like it was taken later in the day, and that means making the detail darker. Then we add Color into the Shadows using the Red Channel and the Black Point on the Output Slider.

After adding red to the Shadows we warm up the Highlights and use a Gradient Tool to center the effect over the Light source.

How to Add Movement to Your Photo

To finish this photo we add a bit of Motion, making it look like the camera was moving with out subject. For this specific type of Motion we need to use a Radial Blur because the movement stems from the center of the image. If the movement came from the camera “panning”, we would use a Motion Blur.

In the Radial Blur settings be sure to change the default from “Spin” to “Zoom”. Then choose the correct amount and the Blur Center. This dialog does not provide a preview, so you may need to test a few different settings before getting it perfect.

After the Radial Blur has been applied we use a Layer Mask to hide the blur from the center of the image and over the subject.

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  • user image
    Linville Murray

    Aaron How am I going to cope without next week on phlearn!!!!! CREATIVE LIVE 🙂 YOUR GOING TO NAIL IT CAN’T WAIT

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    Fritz Meyer

    I really appreciate all your hard work and effort bringing these tutorials to us. How about doing something with 3D text? Until later. ffm

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    Pat Penton

    Aaron – LOVE your tutorials!! I was wondering what the reason is for adding a blank layer before creating the stamped layer in it? Does that give you something you wouldn’t have just by doing the stamped layer alone? Thanks.

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    Great tutorial. This women was easy to follow and replicate. I’m new to photography and photoshop I was wondering if you could do, or if you’ve already done, a tutorial on how layers affect one another, I can follow you, but when I try it on my own, I seem to get lost in my layers and some things are visible when I don’t understand why, or sometimes I create a layer to get a certain effect, and it doesn’t work. Also, I was wondering how we can rescue a JPEG photo that isn’t sharp (I have a shot of my son by a pond with awesome lighting but I took it before I learned about PHLEARN and shooting in RAW. I DESPERATELY want to save the photo.

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    Tiffani Palamuso

    It would be awesome if you guys could do a tutorial on how to take and edit a “miniature” with a tilt shift lens to create the sort of toy effect. 🙂

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    Gabriel Ortiz

    Great! Already working with this.
    How about shooting on green screens? Removing the green cast when cutting the subject, etc.
    Thanks for the insights on this!

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    Great tut’ Aaron! Helped me a lot create a lightroom preset out of it (:

    I guess you could’ve gone with the curve tool too (though it tends to be less intuitive than the level one for a lot of people), anyhow it’s easily convertible to an automated action

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    Karen Hoinke

    Thank you Aaron, your style of teaching is awesome….I am learning so much from you. Had no idea how to use radial blur the right way…..

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    Viki Murray

    Hi Aaron, awesome tutorial, in fact, as a learner on photoshop composite technique you are my favourite resource! Its so frustrating having your ideas totally out weigh your skill level so this is just the best.
    My idea is how to put new skies into landscapes with tree lines that are detailed… so far I have not found a video tutorial helping to work through the fringing issues you get around trees. Layer – defringe is not very effective from my very learner experience and I really struggle with the refine edge tools when it comes to trees, all the tutorials focus on hair! Your recent replace a sky was really helpful in terms of matching colour tone etc, but the foreground was very easy to select – tree lines I find really super tricky. Hope you can help me out on this one! Cheers from outback Australia, Viki

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    Antonio Latorre

    Hi aaron!! great tutorial of how to create a sunset, I have learned a lot with you, Thanks!!! I create a picture from your tutorial, you can see it in

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    Superb Tutorial. Each time I get to learn something different. Keep up the awesome job! Your tutorials are simply fantastic (or should I say ‘Ph’antastic)! Any chance you do landscape photos as well. I shoot mostly landscapes and that would be an added bonus! 😉

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    ey guys im a HUGE fan of your tutorials! i am in belgium, but im brazilian originally.
    i have a suggestion of a video which can be very popular for you: take a photo which is taken on gray days and make it become sunny, so add the real sunny feeling to it, on the skin, on the objects, etc

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    Phlearn tutorials are awesome! Aaron has a fun and inspiring way of explaining things. I pretty sure I saw this image on yahoo today. Can’t seem to find the link to it anymore. Did anyone else see it?

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    Radek Lát

    Great and simple tutorial! However, I wouldn’t use stamp visible. I would rather convert the backgroud layer to a Smart object and apply the radial blur on that. That way you can change the blur settings any time and mask the resulting Smart filter as well.