How to Apply Lighting Effects in Adobe Photoshop

See Adobe Photoshop: Tips and Tricks for similar articles.

When montaging photos, the lighting in different images can be mismatched, so that it becomes obvious in the composited images that the light is coming from two separate and incongruous sources. The Lighting Effects filter in Photoshop allows you to apply lighting sources and types for creative effect or to harmonize the lighting in different image elements.

This feature is similar in Adobe Photoshop CS6 and CC versions.

  1. The following screen shot shows layered images along with the Layers Panel.Start Image
  2. To make changes, go to Filter > Render > Lighting Effects.Lighting Effects in Filter Menu
  3. A gallery-like interface opens with tools and controls for lighting effects.
    • Options Bar: Add light sources, control the preview, cancel or finalize the filter.
    • Properties Panel: Define settings for selected light.
    • Lights Panel: Lists the light sources for selected layer with controls to select or hide specific lights.
    Lighting Effects Interface
  4. There are three types of light sources, which can be selected in the Properties Panel:
    • Point: Light shines from all directions, like with a light bulb.
    • Spot: An elliptical beam of light is cast, such as from a flashlight.
    • Infinite: Light shines from a single source a long distance away, such as with the sun.
    Light Source Menu
  5. For this example, I've chosen Infinite, which produces a different control widget. Click and drag at the small, round source handle to change the angle of the light. Click and drag on the Intensity ring to create brighter or dimmer lighting.Infinite Example
  6. Additional light sources can be added by clicking the Add Spot, Add Point, or Add Infinite buttons in the Options Bar. They will then appear in the Lights Panel.Add Light Buttons
  7. Different light source types show different widgets, with different controls. Watch the tool tips closely when hovering over different parts in the widget. The spot light widget has controls for scaling, rotating, and changing the hotspot size, as well as moving and adjusting the intensity.Spot Light Control Widget
  8. In the Lights Panel, note the Visibility buttons to the left of each lighting effect and the Delete icon at the lower right.Lights Panel
  9. Experiment with adding and adjusting light sources. Click OK when you are satisfied with the lighting effect.

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