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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 material1. This article provides a resource of Adobe Photoshop Light Effects tutorials. These tutorials offer an assortment of techniques for making your work creatively glow. [Content Care Nov/28/2016]

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

Photoshop Light Effects Tutorials Link

Vector Polishing Techniques5

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


Sparkling Hot Girl in Photoshop7

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


Photoshop light effect in 10 Steps9

“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.


Creating A Fantastic Fantasy Night Sky In Photoshop11

Create cartoon style clouds with rainbows, stars, and glowing effects. Based on a Nik Ainley design.


Electrifying Energy Beams13

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.


Advanced Glow Effects15

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


Creating light motion trails & glowing sparks17

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.


8 Steps to Adding Fantasy Lighting with Photoshop19

Some magical light coming from behind the model.


Space Lighting Effects in 10 Steps 21

How to create a space scene with some nice Lighting Effects in 10 Steps.


Flying Girl in Photoshop23

Use some stock photos and mix them together to create a nice light effect.


Luminescent Lines25

Create some thin flowing lines that look as if they emit light.


Create a Vintage Light Bulb27

How to use a bulb image, with some textures and layer styles, to create a fabulous, bright illuminated text effect in Photoshop.


Lighting Effect Photoshop Tutorial29

In this Photoshop tutorial, you will learn how to light up even a black/white image using lighting techniques and how to use adjustment layer to achieve realistic and believable light effect in Photoshop.


Create a Crazy Disco Effect31

In this Photoshop tutorial you will create a crazy disco effect using some textures, blending modes and a touch of creativity.


Sparkler Light Text Effect33

A cool looking sparklers light text effect Photoshop tutorial. You will learn how to create a sparkler typography using any font type that you want.


Classic Light Effect in Photoshop35

How to create a super cool text light effect mixing some photos to give more realism.


Create Light Painted Typography37

How you create a similar look of a traditional light painting photography technique in Photoshop.


Fiery lighting effects39

Apply fire and smoke and learn how to blend it perfectly to master this fiery lighting effect.


Design a Coldplay/Apple Inspired Portrait41

This tutorial will show you how to create a portrait based on the style of the latest Coldplay Ad.


Create a Fantasy Manipulation43

how to create a nice floating woman in a forest. Turn the forest from day to night and paint realistic hair and light effects.


Add fantasy light effects to photo-based artworks45

By creating your own brush in Adobe Illustrator, and using scanned elements with Photoshop, it’s a simple process to create otherworldly scene.


Create A Retro Cosmic Design in Photoshop47

This tutorial will teach you how to recreate a Retro Cosmic designs.


Animated Rainbow49

In this tutorial you will learn how to create a Rainbows wallpaper.


Create striking photo and vector mash-ups51

In this tutorial, leading illustrator Neil Duerden shows how he got stuck into creating one of his stylish images.


Lighting Effect in Photoshop53

In this tutorial you will learn how to create a realistic photometric lighting effect.


Egg Planet55

Egg Planet is a fantastic globe photo manipulation.


Paint Dancers57

Making of the Imaginary Paint Dancers in Adobe Photoshop.


Show me the light59

How to use stock images to make a beautiful digital artwork with nicely colored lights.


Cosmic glows61

Create cosmic glows and lighting effects with particles in After Effects and Photoshop.


Sci-Fi Scene63

Create this Floating Superhero Scene with Sci-Fi Lighting Effects in Photoshop.


Which techniques can be applied? Link

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 effects65 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 Wallpapers66
In the tutorial Chroma Wallpapers6867, 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 Wallpapers6867 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? Link

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 Anderson, that have mastered these techniques. Try to figure out what they have done – beyond the basics.

Chuck Anderson
Chuck Anderson’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 Stream69 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.

Footnotes Link

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

  1. 1


    April 3, 2008 6:11 am

    Smashing mag strikes again!

    Love this one :)

  2. 2

    uooooooooooo my tutorial in smashing mag?!?!?!? thanx!!!!!!

  3. 3

    Wow! Great! thx so much!!

  4. 4

    the best photoshop tutorial collection i’ve seen.

    thanks SM! *thumbs up*

  5. 5

    another bunch of photoshop tutorials, thanks

  6. 6

    Once again, an absolutely amazing collection!

  7. 7

    Great article… i love light effect…

  8. 8

    This is superb! Thanks for the collection of tutorials!

  9. 9

    So are lighting effects and glows the new bevel or drop shadow?
    At what point is it an old out dated style?

  10. 10

    that,s amazing whit photoshop!!

  11. 11 is one cool Photoshop tutorial site

  12. 12

    pretty much all of them were from psdtuts

  13. 13

    Stunning TUTORIALS!!!!!
    Great to see them all in ONE…

    Smashing u guys are the best

  14. 14

    Thanks a lot for listing some of the tuts I wrote ;)…

  15. 15

    Sweet, now this is what I want to see more of!
    Light makes such beautiful motion within pictures!

    I’ll be back for sure now ;)

  16. 16

    I like the flare effect for WordPress logo.

    • 17

      Raymond Lopez

      July 5, 2010 10:21 am

      did you find the tutorial?
      I can’t find it anywhere

      • 18

        Raymond Lopez

        July 5, 2010 1:22 pm

        I found a very similar one for all the people that are looking for it and can’t find it>

  17. 19

    GREAT TUTTOS, i like all

  18. 20

    Excellent collection…

  19. 21


    I’m not seeing any degrading pictures here, but then again, that’s a bit subjective. Care to clue me in?

  20. 22


    I’m not remotely offended by anything in the article but like Chris said, something that is offensive to one may not be to another. Sadly, the only think that offends me on this page is your comment…


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