Anna Shaw

Westgate on Sea, United Kingdom

Anna and her husband Robert live in Kent having moved from France a few years ago. Anna is passionate about photography and has won many...

The EASIEST WAY TO MAKE RAYS OF LIGHT: A Photoshop tutorial for beginners


A Photoshop Tutorial for beginners

I have used Photoshop CS4 but it will work in earlier versions.

This tutorial is an adaptation of ‘Creating An Underwater Scene’ by the truly wonderful Mark Monciardini

As with anything in Photoshop, there are many ways to achieve the same end.Making rays of light is no exception. There are many ways to make these.This is the easiest and most effective way that I have found to do this.

Essentially it is only four main steps to achieve this result…

Steppleland Stock from Deviantart has kindly given permission to use the lovely start image.

If you click on this LINK you can download the image.

Make sure that you download the full size image and not just the thumbnail or the technique that you will be learning will not work properly. To do this click on the download button, and when the full size image shows, right click and use ‘save image as’.

Please make sure that you tick the Add to Favourites button before you download, as a way of saying ‘Thanks’ for the use of the stock.

Step 1
Open the image and immediately create a new layer by clicking on the new layer icon at the bottom of your layers palate. Name this layer ’Light Rays"
See below…

Step 2

Set colour palate to the default White foreground, Black background
Go to the menu bar and select Filter/Render /Clouds and hit ‘Enter’.
Your layer should now look like this…

Step 3

Go to your menu bar and select Image/Adjustment/Threshold and hit the ‘OK’ button in the little box that comes up.
Your layer will now look like this..

Step 4

Go to
Filter/Blur/Radial Blur

When the box pops up, set

Amount = 84
Blur Method = Zoom
Quality = Good

The arrow here shows you where the zoom will radiate from.

You need to place the blur centre over your light source ie the sun or the moon, or where the strongest light is in the sky. In this image, we need to have the Blur Centre it in the top left hand corner. So, with your mouse, slide the zoom centre to the top left of the square box.
The dialogue box should look like this…

Hit the OK button.

Your image will now look like this.

You are nearly there now!

Step 5

Now set the blending mode of this layer to Soft Light (See image below)
Reduce the opacity to 77%
Reduce the Fill to 94%
(The reduction in opacity and fill is a personal preference. Just adjust them until you are happy with the effect.)

Step 6

Now add a layer mask to this layer by clicking on the layer mask icon at the bottom of your layers palate. (See image below)

Now set your foreground colour to Black.
Set the background colour to White.

Select a soft round brush 200px.

With the layer mask selected, paint over the areas you want to hide with the black brush.

Here I have painted out the rays over the tree trunk, to give the impression that the light is falling behind it. I also painted out the front foreground to set the rays further back in the image.

If you go too far, change the foreground colour to White and that will bring the rays back.

And that’s it!! How simple was that?

Special thanks go to my dear friends LorraineCreagh &Francis
for their kindness and help in learning how to upload and post this tutorial.

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