Dramatic Lighting Effects in Photoshop

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Adding Dramatic Lighting in Photoshop 


Dramatic Lighting Effect in Photoshop


I only wish I knew this technique when I started using photoshop. However, it’s extremely simple to get great lighting effects. I wonder what took me so long…

Download the PSD to follow along 

Let’s Break down this tutorial before we begin

1. Choosing a Photo 

2. Adding Lighting Effects

3. Adding Gradient Maps

4. Photo Examples

Let’s dive right in.

Step 1. Getting a Photo

This technique will apply to any photo. I prefer using it on Models. These are a few of my favorite ROYALTY FREE stock photo websites. 


Step 2. Adding the Lighting Effects

Make a New Layer (shit + ctrl + N) and name it Light 1 (you can name it whatever you wish, but I like to keep things organized)

Press B on the keyboard or select the Brush tool from the Toolbar to bring up the Brushes. Choose a Soft Round Brush. 

Choose a night bright blue from the color palette and make sure the foreground color is set to the color you choose.   

Change the Blending mode of that layer to LINEAR DODGE (ADD) and Paint on one side of the image. 

Since there’s a light blue in the image I’ve chosen I deliberately choose a blue color to paint with. 

I followed the exact same process and painted with a purple on the left side of the image. 

It’s that simple.  

You can alternate between SCREEN, COLOR DODGE & LINEAR DODGE (ADD) Blending Modes. Feel free to experiment. 

Step 3. Adding Gradient Maps

Adding Gradient Maps will also give you some cool dramatic effects. 

Add a Gradient Map Adjustment Layer ABOVE the LIGHTING LAYERS. You could also place the gradient map adjustment layer in between the lighting layers you painted. This will also give you some great results. 

Change the blending mode of the Gradient Map Adjustment Layer to Color Burn and reduced the opacity to 60% (feel free to toggle the various other blending modes to see the different lighting possibilities)

These are the colors I’ve chosen for the gradient map

For Photoshop CC 2020 users I used 5 gradient the Default Gradient from the “Oranges” folder”

For older versions of Photoshop you can add any gradient map and change the colors to: 
YELLOW – #facc22 & ORANGE – #f83600

The Photo above shows the result when the Gradient is ABOVE the LAYERS 

The Photo below shows the different results you can achieve when the GRADIENT MAP is between the light layers


You’ll surprise yourself if you experiment with layer placement, changing blending modes etc. You don’t have to copy everything I’ve told you in this tutorial. Have fun!

That will be all for this Tutorial. As I mentioned it is THAT simple. It looks complicated but it’s a piece of cake. 

Photo Examples using the same techniques you learned in this tutorial.


Thanks & don’t forget to Share & Leave a Comment. 


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