How to create a glow effect in Photoshop.

You already know your projects glow, but why not make them authentic? Learn how to create a glowing effect in Photoshop to shed even more light on your image.

Glow effects are great when you want to highlight a part of your image to really draw in the viewers’ attention. Think of it like attaching glow sticks to your photo. Luckily, it’s easy to create a realistic glow effect in Adobe Photoshop. Just follow these steps.

Darken the image.

You want your glow effect to stand out. And just like with a glow stick, it’s hard for something to glow against a bright background. So, the first step to making a glow effect in Photoshop is to darken your image.

Start by creating a new layer for your levels adjustment and place it over the background image. Then, find the Output Levels slider and move it to the left. This will bring your brightness down and help the glow effect stand out later.

Draw some shapes.

With your background nice and dark, it’s time to add your guidelines for the glow. Use Photoshop’s shape tools to draw a line, curve, circle, square, or any other shape wherever you want to add the glow effect.

Make sure you set Fill to none and the Stroke to the color you want to glow. You can always come back and change the color if you don’t like how it turns out.

Once you’re happy with the guide shapes, duplicate the layer. Then, right-click on your duplicate layer and choose Rasterize Layer to create the effects layer where you can build your glow effect.

Create your glow.

You create the actual glow effect in Photoshop by duplicating your effect layer several times and adding different levels and intensities of Gaussian Blur. You can also play with the Blending Modes to give it that soft glowing feel.

If you want to add a more natural variation to your glow, you can also add Layer Masks to each of your glow layers and use a black paint tool to block out various spots. This makes the glow look slightly uneven and more natural.

Continue duplicating layers or even groups of layers and changing the blur and blending options until you find the glow effect you like.

Integrate the glow into the environment and subject.

Once your glow effect looks how you want it, adjust your layers so that it integrates with the environment and subject. You might need to use overlapping layers to put the glow in front of or behind the subject so that it looks natural.

Since glow is supposed to put off light, use the Brush Tool with a low Flow to lightly brush the edges of your subject and nearby items in the same color as your glow.

Use the Blend tool to merge your brush strokes with the image’s highlights. This will make your glow effect look like it’s actually emitting light.

Add the final touches.

When you finish with all the minute brush details, you can zoom out and see your full glow effect in action. From here, you can make a few final adjustments to the levels or the color to make your image absolutely perfect and ready to share with the world.

Find more photography tips to take your work to the next level. Then, discover everything you can do with Photoshop to create stunning effects on your images and photographs.