Adobe Photoshop Tutorials – Rainbows, Glows and Light Effects


Lighting effects in Adobe Photoshop are used to add flare and polish to images. They communicate feelings of creativity, technology, magic, and fantasy. Creating beams, glows, motion trails, rainbows, or an assortment of other lighting effects, give your images ambiance and depth.

Now it’s time for a sparkling dose of related Photoshop learning material. This article provides a resource of Adobe Photoshop Light Effects tutorials. These tutorials offer an assortment of techniques for making your work creatively glow.

Please consider them as an extension of our ultimate Adobe Photoshop series:

Photoshop Light Effects Tutorials

  • Lines Tutorial3
    A super simple tutorial that makes rainbow colored lines. It shows you how to give them an appearance of brightness and depth.

    Lines Tutorial4

  • Expressive lighting effects545
    This tutorial combines both vector and raster based techniques to achieve a glowing floral design. The glows are applied in Photoshop.

    Expressive lighting effects6

  • Vector Polishing Techniques7
    This tutorial covers numerous ways to transform your vector illustrations into masterpieces by using Photoshop lighting techniques, glows, and filters.

    Vector Polishing Techniques8

  • How to Make the “Flare” Effect As Seen On
    In this tutorial, the Lens Flare filter is used on the background. Then the lighting is created with brushes and different blending modes.

    How to Make the Flare Effect As Seen On

  • Sparkling Hot Girl in Photoshop9
    Utilize an assortment of techniques to achieve a sparkling design. Masks, blurs, brushes, layers styles and other effects are used in this tutorial.

    Sparkling Hot Girl in Photoshop10

  • Amazing Photoshop light effect in 10 Steps11
    “If you know a bit of Layer Styles and the Brush engine in Photoshop you will be able to create amazing effects. It will depend exclusively on your imagination and playing with the tool. Sometimes just changing some settings and you get a totally different effect.” This tutorial applies lighting effects to a coffee cup icon.

    Amazing Photoshop light effect12

  • Creating A Fantastic Fantasy Night Sky In Photoshop13
    Create cartoon style clouds with rainbows, stars, and glowing effects. Based on a Nik Ainley14 design.

    Creating A Fantastic Fantasy Night Sky In Photoshop15

  • Neon lights with Photoshop16
    Tutorial on how to make glowing lights effects out of vector shapes and brushes.

    Neon lights with Photoshop17

  • Electrifying Energy Beams18
    In this tutorial you start with the pen tool by drawing a line. Then you transform that line into an energy beam with layer effects. This makes it glow white and purple around a microphone.

    Electrifying Energy Beams19

  • Add Another Dimension20
    Use glows and blending modes to “add another dimension” to your Photoshop artwork

    Add Another Dimension21

  • Magic lighting effect in Photoshop22
    Learn to magically make text wave and glow out of a magician’s hat.

    Magic lighting effect23

  • Extreme sports branding24
    This tutorial first covers creating a logo then it gets into the main snowboard illustration. Vector shapes are applied with layer effects and brushes to make the illustration stand out. This is part one in a series.

    Extreme sports branding25

  • How to Create Intense Light Streaks in Photoshop26
    This tutorial shows you how to create light streaks that appear to flow around an object.

    How to Create Intense Light Streaks in Photoshop27

  • Chroma Wallpapers575628
    This tutorial explains how to create an energetic design with lines. Utilize blurs, warps, and other effects. Add glowing and vibrating colors to give this image a dynamic feeling.

    Chroma Wallpapers29

  • Advanced Glow Effects30
    This tutorial teaches how to create glow effects using layer styles, the pen tool, and some color blending effects.

    Advanced Glow Effects31

  • Lighting Effects – Beam Wave32
    Learn to transform a one pixel lines into a glowing beam. Then add radial balls of light to emulate a pulse explosion.

    Lighting Effects - Beam Wave33

  • Add A Sparkle Trail To A Photo34
    Learn how to add a sparkling trail of stars to your photos using brushes, layer styles, and effects.

    Add A Sparkle Trail To A Photo35

  • Creating light motion trails & glowing sparks36
    This tutorial covers creating light motion trails by using the pen tool with layer styles. It also covers creating sparkling stars in Illustrator and then importing them into the Photoshop design.

    Creating light motion trails & glowing sparks37

  • Blue Glow Layout38
    This tutorial reviews the process for creating a simple layout in Photoshop, while revealing techniques for creating an abstract glowing centerpiece design.

    Blue Glow Layout39

  • Fantasy Art Photoshop tutorial40
    Learn to create a fantasy image with glowing halos of lights and stars. Notice how you can apply glow directly to a cropped image. The tutorial creates the halos with the Elliptical Marquee tool. It applies a stroke and then a glow to the selection, on its own layer.

    Fantasy Art Photoshop tutorial41

  • Photoshop: Light Beam42
    This tutorial reviews the basic process of creating a light beam in Photoshop; however, it does refer to other tutorials for some effects. The techniques in this tutorial involve using different brushes to paint the light, and then they are smeared with the Smudge Tool. There are a few filters used as well.

    Photoshop: Light Beam43

  • Even fairies have to rest – glow and lightning tutorial44
    First, the photograph is treated to make it a little darker so that the points of light in the design will stand out. Both a linear wrapping beam and points of radiating light are covered in this tutorial.

    Even fairies have to rest - glow and lightning tutorial45

  • Beautiful lighting FX effect in Photoshop46
    This tutorial will show you how to make a beautiful lighting effect with the scatter brush. This tutorial covers the basics.

    Beautiful lighting FX effect in Photoshop47

  • High-Tech Swirling Aurora48
    This tutorial covers how to apply the Wind Filter to a waving light beam to create an aurora effect.

    High-Tech Swirling Aurora49

  • Slow shutter text effect – Photoshop50
    Layers of blurred elements are used in this tutorial. This blurring technique is worked into glowing linear text and circle shapes.

    Slow shutter text effect - Photoshop51

  • Seriously Cool Photoshop Explosion Effect52
    Use layer masks and light effects to creatively break apart an image. Points of bright lights, swirly brushes, and warped lines help bring this design together.

    Seriously Cool Photoshop Explosion Effect53

Which techniques can be applied?

At the compositional level, these effects are often applied through shapes. So, you might start with the pen tool by drawing a curvy line. Or, grab a brush and draw some scattered stars. Or, open up Illustrator first to compose design elements that you then pull back into Photoshop. The tutorial Expressive lighting effects545 demonstrates how to use interesting design shapes first and then apply glowing effects to them.

Once you know how you’d like to use shapes, you can apply effects to them. Layer styles and Blending Modes are common effects used to create this look. With Layer Styles, you might apply Glow. Or, with Blending Modes, you might set the layer to Lighten, Overlay, or Color Dodge – get the element you’re working with to sparkle and shine.

Chroma Wallpapers55
In the tutorial Chroma Wallpapers575628, lines are bent with the Warp Transform tool before being given a glow treatment.

There are more techniques often used; such as different types of blurs and gradients. You could play with Photoshop’s built in lighting effects, like Lens Flare, as well. Or get creative. Mix in rainbows. Paint glowing bursts of light. Manipulate the lines and shapes your working with.

In the tutorial Chroma Wallpapers575628 lines are bent with the Warp Transform tool before being given a glow treatment. This puts a new spin on the use of glowing light techniques.

Where can I get some inspiration?

Consider raising it to the next level, after you’ve mastered the basics of lighting and glow techniques. To raise the quality of your glowing work you’ll need inspiration and imagination.

Look at artists, such as Chuck Anderson6058, that have mastered these techniques. Try to figure out what they have done – beyond the basics.

Chuck Anderson59
Chuck Anderson6058‘s work impresses with the beauty of its lightning effects.

Also, look at photographic effects; for example, look at how light appears to blur and travel in long exposure photography. See the Flickr Group Light Stream61 for samples of this kind of photography.

Keep your eyes and mind open. You’ll start to see these effects in the real world. Or look to fantasy art; the sparkling feel of these effects can be used to supersede reality, magically transforming your designs.


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Sean Hodge is the creative mind behind AiBURN, a weblog about design, creativity, inspiration and graphics.

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  2. 102

    Thanks for uploading friends !

  3. 203


    Thank you so much for featuring my “Plasma in The Lake” tutorial. I just have one concern, if I may – I moved the forum to a blog platform, could you please change the link for the tut #20 from


    That would be much appreciated as the forum is totally inactive and people can’t view the tutorial.

    Thank you!!
    Liza Kliko aka Lorelei

  4. 506

    oh i looooooooove the preety colours!!!!!!!!!

  5. 607

    Really beautifull

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    Marco de la mora

    April 2, 2010 9:58 pm

    Well, there are not words enough to say THANK YOU !!!!!… :) :)

    Nice Job


  7. 809

    Didn’t help me at all.

  8. 1011

    Carl - Web Courses Bangkok

    June 17, 2010 5:49 am

    Loving working through these, thanks!

  9. 1112

    freelance web designer

    June 20, 2010 12:22 pm

    impressive tutorials i learned something new from this tutorial and i bookmarked thanks freelance web designer

  10. 1213

    love your creativity . :)

  11. 1314

    Great roundup :) I love glow effects, you can do amazing things with those. They give that little extra touch to some photos, it’s amazing. Thanks for sharing.

  12. 1415

    km puedo hacer una imagen de esas con mi foto

  13. 1516

    it was very helpful for me

  14. 1617

    nice tutorials . . hmmm is there any other effects that would suit to a poster making?

  15. 1718

    Such an amazing works

  16. 1819

    veryyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy nice

  17. 1920

    Nice collection of tutorials.

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    thanks very much!!!

  20. 2223

    amazing whit photoshop…!!

  21. 2324

    amazing whit photoshop

  22. 2425

    yes amazing
    whit photosh amazing

  23. 2526

    i love u realy

  24. 2627

    These are absolutely fabulous. I love your collections!

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    Awesome Tutorial !!! Thanks for the posting this glowing effects ………………

  27. 2930

    THANK YOU soooo much for this!!….bookmarked this and now im gonna try out the tutorials one by one, loved and tried the first one already!!! :D


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