Eric Renno, aka TipSquirrel, Fotolia’s guest Photoshop Guru is on hand again, this time to give us a detailed, step-by-step tutorial on how to create lighting effects in Photoshop. Over to you Eric…..

In this tutorial we’re going to add some lighting effects to give this image some movement and drama. The image I’m using is Street Style Dancer from Alexander Yakovlev . A little disclaimer here,  although I love the image as is, it does make for a good subject for this tutorial though.


Step 1 : Create A Path

We’re going to use the Pen tool here but let’s keep it as simple as we can. If we make a series of clicks the point will be joined by straight lines. We can make them rounded after.

With the Pen tool selected, click down to make some anchor points. (I’ve reduced the opacity of the image so you can see my path, this isn’t a necessary step)


Step 2 : Round off the corners

From the tool panel get the Convert Anchor Point tool. This will allow us to convert the hard corners into rounded ones.


Click on a corner anchor and drag up (or down depending on which way you drew the path) until you get a nice curve. Do this on the other anchor points including the ends, keeping them nice and fluid .


Step 3 :  Repositioning the Anchors

You may find that you’d like to move the anchor points. For this grab yourself the Direct Selection tool. Click a point to move it to its new position.


Step 4: Set up a Brush

We’re going to use the brush to make the streak so we need to set that up. Choose the Brush tool and then resize using the [ and ] keys to make the brush bigger and smaller.

The brush thickness will be the widest part of the streak, but the glow will be a little bigger, so bear this in mind when you resize the brush. Then you’ll need the Brush settings panel, you can get this from the menu or by pressing F5 if you don’t already have it on screen.


In the Shape Dynamics panel, choose Pen Pressure from the drop down menu.


Step 5 : Make a New Layer for the Streak

Make a new layer by clicking the New Layer icon and rename it Streak 1


Step 6 : Draw the Streak

Go to the Paths panel. If you don’t have it on screen choose it from the Window menu. Right click on the path and choose, Stroke Path.


From the pop up menu that appears choose the brush from the drop down menu and make sure that Simulate Pen Pressure is checked.


Step 7 : Select Your Subject.

To make the streak appear to around the dancer add a mask to the streak layer so make a selection of your subject.

Once you have a selection, don’t add a mask just yet, instead open the Channels panel and make a new Alpha Channel.  We can then use this to make selections again later.


For this image I used the quick selection tool and Refine edge. If you’re unfamiliar with masks check out these videos I recorded for Fotolia a little while ago:

An Introduction to Masks in Photoshop and Photoshop Elements

Get Better Masks with Photoshop Refine Edge

Step 8 : Mask The Streak

The selection should still be active, if it isn’t press Ctrl (PC) or Cmd (Mac) and click the thumbnail of the alpha channel.

Go back to the Layers Panel and on the Streaks 1 layer add a mask.

The selection will be the reverse of what you want, so press the Alt (PC) or Option (Mac) to reverse it as you make it.

This will put the subject in front of the streak.

Step 9 : Bring back Some of The Streak

With a brush selected, and the foreground set to white, paint (with the mask selected) where you want the streak to be in front of the subject.


Step 10 : Add Some Glow

With Streak 1 selected click the Fx button at the bottom of the Layers panel. There’s going to be a lot of personal taste here, but these were my choices;



Step 11 : Adding More Streaks and Back Lights.

Repeat as often as you’d like, and with any shapes you like! For my image I’ve added some lines behind the dancer. To make it easier for myself I added them all to a group and put the mask on the group rather than individual layers. Remember too, if you have any reflective surfaces, copy the lights and add them there too. Fo me, I added them to the floor.


Remember : You created the Alpha chanel. When you’ve created the lights go and load in the selection from it to create a mask on the light layer. (Press Ctrl (PC) or Cmd (Mac) and click the thumbnail of the alpha channel.)

Have fun and let us know what you create by commenting below, we’d love to see them!

As always, a big thanks to Eric for supplying this super detailed tutorial. Check out more of his tutorials on his websiteYouTube and you can find him on Facebook and Twitter should you wish to get in touch with him!