advanced photoshop

Photoshop tip: Fake a backlight in your photo composites

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Tips & Tutorials, by The Advanced Photoshop Team

We show you how to add a realistic backlight to your images in Photoshop

Ultra dramatic mood lighting can be found everywhere from advertising to movie posters to book covers. It’s a great way to draw a viewer in. A stark silhouette in a desolate setting makes for a compelling visual – think the original poster from The Exorcist!

If you find a starter image where the light is already low and the shadows are long, it will save an incredible amount of time. Otherwise you’ll need to create the long shadows by hand, as well as drawing in the figure.

A Hue/Saturation adjustment layer will add the unearthly colouration to the scene. To create the light source, first use a layer with a white-to-black Radial gradient with the blending mode set to Multiply to darken the outer edges of the scene. The soft colour glow is achieved by using a coloured Radial gradient on a layer set to Color Dodge. Finally create a merged layer and touch up the lighting with the Dodge and Burn tools.

Dramatic lighting tip