How to Create Light Rays in Photoshop

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How to Create Light Rays in Photoshop

This is a little bit of an older post – but I checked it (July 2016), and it is actually not bad haha. So, lets jump in; here is how to create light rays in Photoshop.

Part one – Identify the light source

If you don’t have a good source of light, create one. For example, on a cloudy day, you might just be unlucky and the part you photographed did not have the sun behind the clouds. That is just not fair, which is why it can be helped. First, create a stamp visible (CMD+Shift+Alt+E) which will copy everything onto a new layer. Then go to Filter-Render-Lighting Effects and select the point light. Drag and drop the light around until you think it fits. Essentially, Photoshop will darken the whole image, except the bright parts where you place the image! Great, right? Hit OK once you are happy.

Part two – Create the rays

Now that we have light, we can easily create the light rays in photoshop. Create a new layer (CMD+Shift+Alt+N) and select the brush (B). Hold Alt pressed and select a colour in the bright parts of your image. Draw a line from the light source to wherever you want in the image. Do this a couple of times until you think you have enough. Then go to Filter-Blur-Motion Blur.
Once there, select a good angle and pixel number for your blur. Tip: Try to match the angle of the rays, it’ll be a little more realistic, especially if they are close to each other. Once happy, hit OK.

Part three – Position and adapt

The last step is to press V on your keyboard to get your move tool and move the ray around until you are super happy with it’s position. Then hit CMD+T to bring up the Free Transform Tool and resize the whole thing.
Of course, where the light hits the ground, the ground should be a little brighter than on places where the light does not impact! So, create a Curve Adjustment Layer and decrease (or increase, depends on the way you want to do it!) the brightness. Get the brush out (B) and hit CMD+I on the keyboard. This will hide the effect everywhere, and with the brush you can then choose where you want to bring the effect back!
The described method depends a little bit on your image – sometimes it is easy, sometimes quite hard. But this will get you going on how to create light rays in Photoshop!

Happy processing!

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