light effects photoshop

How to Create Light Effects in Photoshop


Learn how to create stunning, realistic light effects in Photoshop like sun rays, lens flares, bloom, glows, and more!


  • 9 Sample Images
  • 5 Sample PSDs
  • 1 Photoshop Brush


Table of Contents

Course Preview
  • 01 - What You'll Learn
Lighting Effects
  • 01 - Learn the Basics & Create a Lens Flare
  • 02 - Paint Light Rays From Scratch
  • 03 - Combine Light Rays & Custom Dust Brush
  • 04 - Create Romantic Bloom Effect
  • 05 - Use Bokeh & Photo Effects for Added Depth

Lens Flares, Sun Rays & More

light effects photoshop

light effects photoshop



Create Light Effect From Scratch

Learn how to use Adjustment Layers, Layer Masks, custom brushes, and even some simple compositing skills to add dramatic lighting effects to your photos in Photoshop! Follow along through several examples where we create realistic light rays, lens flares, glows, and bloom effects from scratch.

Realistic Light with Levels

Levels Adjustment Layers are the key to creating realistic lighting effects in Photoshop. By making small adjustments to the natural lighting in an image, and then using Layer Masks to make those adjustments appear as soft beams of light, you’ll have more dramatic lighting that looks like it was all captured in-camera.

Dust & Particle Effects

Use the included custom Photoshop Brush to add dust and particles to any light effects you create. Adding detail and atmosphere to any added effects will help them blend seamlessly into the rest of the environment.

light effects photoshop

light effects photoshop



Lens Flares

One of the most popular lighting effects, lens flares are a subtle way to add more visual interest to your photos. Learn how to create lens flare effects by extracting lighting from other images.

Simple Compositing Techniques

One of the best ways to create realistic lighting is to borrow effects from other images. We include 4 images of bokeh that you can use alongside some simple compositing tricks to add flares, bursts, and rays to your own photos.

Analyze Lighting

We show you how to analyze lighting to find the perfect images for lighting effects. By finding images that are backlit, and by determining the direction of the light, you can create powerful, realistic effects of your own.

Add Interest & Drama

light effects photoshop

Light Up Your Photos

Lighting effects can help transform a great image into something extraordinary. Get creative with lighting with these easy and powerful Photoshop skills.

light effects photoshop

light effects photoshop



Special Effects in Photoshop

Special effects can help to take your photos to new and exciting places. For more inspiration, check out How to Create a Glow Effect, Film & Vintage Coloring in Photoshop, and Light Effects & Color Toning with Gradients!

Filters & Blurs

Learn how to use a variety of Photoshop Filters and Blurs to create photorealistic lighting in just a matter of clicks. From Gaussian Blurs and Box Blues to Noise & Grain, these versatile techniques can help you solve any creative problems that try to get in your way.

Layer Masks

This course focuses heavily on editing and modifying Layer Masks to create realistic effects. New to Layer Masks? Be sure to watch How to Use Layer Masks in Photoshop and our complete Beginner’s Guide to Photoshop.



Picture Perfect Sunsets

Enhance sunsets and existing sun rays in a photo, adding additional atmosphere, depth, color. Want to learn more about lighting and coloring your photos? Then check out Advanced Lighting & Coloring in Photoshop.

Custom Photoshop Brush

Add dust and particle effects to light rays to add more depth and atmosphere to your effects. Once you download it, this brush is yours to keep forever!

Paint with Light

Learn how to use the Brush Tool to literally paint lighting effects into any image. This technique provides all of the control and variation you’ll need to create ultra-realistic effects.

Class Instructor

Aaron Nace

PHLEARN Founder – Class Instructor

Aaron Nace is a photographer, Photoshop artist and founder of PHLEARN. He is the #1 Photoshop instructor in the world with millions of YouTube subscribers.

View More Classes by Aaron Nace


  1. another series of wonderful easy to understand tutorials. Aaron is easy to understand and presents the tutorials at a pace that is easy to follow. PAHLEARN tutorials are probably the best ones on the internet. keep up the great work

  2. As usual, Aaron Nace has put together a very useful set of exercise ‘follow along’ tutorials, this time focused on Lightening Effects. The way I get the most out of a Phlearn exercise is to go through it once, then go through it a second time; and then, a third time to really pin down the techniques and concepts. Aaron, you have taken my work to the next level on several occasions by: 1) increasing my Photoshop skills, 2) strengthening my image development techniques and 3) helping me think outside the box with respect to post processing. This has made a significant difference (+++) in my work. For me, it’s been enriching on several levels for which I am delighted. Great stuff. Take care. Peace! John Guild, Texas

  3. Another super cool tutorial

  4. Love it! I always learn so much and it is so easy to follow along. Love your way of teaching photoshop.

  5. As always, very interesting, Simple and effective.

  6. Excellent tutorial… The musical instrument in chapter two of “Lighting Effects” is called a sitar…

  7. Im doing your tutorials everyday, and evertime i learn something. Thanks for your content it’s so nice to be able to learn from such a great instructor !

  8. Great tutorial as always, simple and impressive. Thanks Aaron

  9. Great Tutorial, learned a lot regarding changing colors with Levels adjustments. Aaron just knows how to teach. Really enjoyed this one. Will go back and review this one a few times, the tutorial is simple, however grasping the levels color adjustments firmly will require a few more looks.

  10. Great Tutorial as ever Aaron.

  11. Brilliant .. as always!

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