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Add Light Rays in Photoshop

Posted on 1st November 2018
For this tutorial, you will need an image to add the Rays of light to (we used one with many trees).

1 - In Photoshop, open the image you chose.

2 - If your image needs some tweaking, go to Image > Adjustments > Levels (Command/Control + L) and click “Auto” to adjust it a bit.

3 - Duplicate your image (Command/Control + J).

4 - Go to Select > Color Range, choose “Sampled Colors”, make sure that the “Localized Color Clusters” box is checked and click on the spots where the sky is. Use the small eyedropper icon with a plus sign next to it to add to your selection until you have as much of the sky as possible selected.

5 - Enter “Quick Mask Mode” by clicking “Q” and check if there are some semi transparent spots, etc. Use the “Brush Tool” (B) with a large and hard brush (about 80 px and 100% “Hardness”) and Black as your “Foreground” color to erase the portions that need it. Click “Q” again to exit “Quick Mask Mode”.

6 - Click on the small Black & White Circle at the bottom of the “Layers Panel” and choose “Solid Color” to create a “New Color Fill Layer”. Use White (#ffffff) as “Fill” and click “OK”.

7 - Right-click on top of your new layer’s thumbnail and choose “Convert to Smart Object”.

8 - Go to Filter > Blur > Radial Blur… locate the spot where you want the light source to be (in this case the sun) and drag the center of the thumbnail there. Choose “Zoom” and “Best” as your other options. If you think the location of the light source is not right, just double-click on its thumbnail and change the position of the center in the filter.

9 - Double-click on top of your layer’s thumbnail and apply the following “Layer Styles”:

Outer Glow: (#dcb15f)

10 - Change the “Blending Mode” to “Overlay”.

11 - Duplicate your top-most layer (Command/Control + J) and go to Edit > Transform > Perspective (you may get a pop-up telling you that Smart Filters will be temporarily turned off, click “OK”). Pull the lower corners in or out depending on your image to adjust the perspective of the “Rays”.

12 - Use “Distort” to pull down the lower part and elongate the rays. Once you are done, hit “Enter” or click the “Check mark” on the Top Menu. Change the “Blending Mode” to “Soft Light”.

13 - Go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur… and use a “Radius” of 40 Pixels.

14 - Create a “New Layer” on top of everything (click on the small button at the bottom of the “Layers Panel”).

15 - Go to Edit > Fill… (Shift + F5), choose Black as “Contents” and click “OK”. Change the “Blending Mode” to “Screen”.

16 - Go to Filter > Render > Lens Flair… with your cursor, click to position the center where your light source should be and choose “105mm Prime” before clicking “OK”. If you want, you can convert this layer into a “Smart Object” before applying the effect so you can edit if needed.

17 - Go to the “Adjustments Panel” and add a “New Hue/Saturation Layer” on top, clip it to the one underneath by clicking the small button at the bottom of the panel. Check the “Colorize” box and move the levers until you get a shade that is similar to the one of your “Background”.

18 - Your work should be similar to this.

by @lornacane

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