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50+ Best Glow and Light Effect Tutorials and Resources!


Do you want to add some movement to an image? Or maybe a little extra drama? Or you might want to bring out the detail you know is in your image, but is hiding behind all those dark shadows. There are countless reasons why amping up the lighting in your image is a smart move. 

light effect

Light is one of the main factors when it comes to establishing mood and tone, so having a toolbox full of quick and easy lighting effects is a good idea for any designer, photographer, or illustrator—new or veteran! 

So let's take a look at the top 50+ lighting-based photo effects and tutorials that will jump-start your creativity! 

glow effect

How Do I Create a Light Effect in Photoshop?

Step 1

First, download a set of high-quality light leaks. I will be using the Bokeh & Light Leaks Backgrounds pack!

Set the light leaks layer to Screen.

apply light leak

Step 2

Create a Curves layer directly below the light leak.

Set the settings to what you see below.

increase curves

Step 3

Next, set the layer's Blend If to what you see below.

adjust blend if

Step 4

Create a second Curves layer below the first, setting it to what you see below. We are bringing up the reds while bringing down the blues!

adjust colors
final light effect

How Do I Create a Glow Effect in Photoshop?

Step 1

First, create a Brightness/Contrast layer above your subject. Set it to Brightness: 13 and Contrast: 35.

increase contrast

Step 2

Create a New Layer.

Now, using the Circular Marquee Tool, create a large circle. 

Fill the circle in with a soft round Brush set to various vibrant red colors, layering them on top of each other from darkest to lightest to create a gradient effect.

create circle selection

Step 3

Next, duplicate the bubble.

Use the Warp Mode found in the Free Transform tool to warp and shape a more dynamic-looking bubble. 

Place the bubble somewhere around the model.

warp the bubble

Step 4

Repeat step 3 as many times as you want!

Copy, paste, and transform existing bubbles to speed up the process even more.

create multiple bubble effects

Step 5

Create a mixture of Soft Light and Overlay layers to add a soft glow coming from the bubbles. Soft Light and Overlay layers are going to be two of the best layer modes for adding both glow and light.

Paint using a soft round Brush set to either white or a vibrant red!

add glow effect

Top 10 Light Effect Photoshop Actions

Photoshop actions are an artist's best friend. Not only do they save you time, which in turn saves you money, but they offer you a great jumping-off point for when you are in a creative rut.

These professionally made light effect Photoshop actions were made to stun! 

Double Light Photoshop Action

Create a dynamic, colorful, double light photo effect with just a couple of clips using this Double Light Photoshop Action. This action not only adds a soft yet vivid light, but also applies a subtle particle effect! It even includes its own double light effect tutorial.

double light Photoshop action

Light Painting - Photoshop Action

Apply a light painting photo effect to any font or shape! Light painting took the photography world by storm, and now you can add this bright and vibrant Photoshop photo effect to your photos and designs with just one click of a button. This light effect even works on logos!

light painting Photoshop action

Lights Photoshop Action

The Lights Photoshop action adds both mystery and movement to your photos by not only adding blooms of light, but also a subtle grain effect. Another one-click Photoshop action to add a quick but powerful photo effect to any image.  

lights Photoshop action

Light & Dark - Photoshop Actions

Bring drama to any image using the Light & Dark Photoshop action pack. With a total of 20 color corrections, these Photoshop actions are fully editable and non-destructive, making this set the perfect tool for movie posters or any image that needs a bit more depth and story. 

light  dark Photoshop actions

Lightum - Light Effects Photoshop Action

Lightum Light Effects Photoshop Action takes glamour to a whole new level by applying an ultra-vivid light photo effect to any image with just one click. It comes with ten different color presets; however, it can be customized to whichever color will fit your photo best. This photo effect works great as a glamour portrait effect!

Lightum - Light Effects Photoshop Action

Wall Of Lights - Photoshop Actions

Create a photo manipulation full of bright lights fit for any stage with the Wall of Lights Photoshop action! This action creates a giant wall of lights that can be set to different sizes, colors, and intensity, making for an ultra-customizable photo effect. 

Wall of Lights - Photoshop Actions

Thriller Lights Photoshop Actions

Add a shroud of mystery and detail to your image using the Thriller Lights Photoshop Action. It combines dark shadows with dazzling light and a subtle effect of particles to create the perfect mix of highlights and darkness. It’s a must-have for any photo effect lover!

Dual Light Photoshop Action

Need even more double light options? The Dual-Light Photoshop Action lets you apply a double light effect, while at the same time adding a smoke and bokeh photo effect, all with a single click. The action works perfectly as a portrait effect but also works well with figures, inanimate objects, and most other photos! 

Dual Light Photoshop Action

Aurora Light Photoshop Actions

Add a stunning aurora light leak effect to your photo using the Aurora Light Photoshop Actions pack! The pack includes 16 Photoshop actions and is both non-destructive and adjustable. This is a high-quality photo effect that will bring the perfect amount of both color and light to any portrait or landscape photo!

Aurora Light Photoshop Actions

Fury 3 Photoshop Action

Bring action and intensity to your work with the Fury 3 Photoshop Action pack! This light photo effect moves with your photo, with a choice of five different effect directions, making it the perfect choice for dynamic figure or portrait effects. You can even change its color!

Fury 3 Photoshop Action

Top 10 Light Effect Photoshop Brushes

Photoshop offers you one thing that some Photoshop actions can't: control. With brushes, you get to choose the color, placement, opacity, and layer mode!

Fill your toolbox with ten of the top lighting brushes that are sure not to let you down. 

Firey Light Leak Kit - 10 Brushes & 50 Overlays

This Firey Light Leak Kit not only includes ten Photoshop brushes that you can use to create your own custom light leak photo effects, but also 50 overlay textures that you can add to any image for a quick and easy photo effect! 

Firey Light Leak Kit - 10 Brushes  50 Overlays

Light Smoke Waves Photoshop Brushes

Create futuristic designs with these abstract Light Flow Smoke Wave Photoshop brushes! The pack includes high-resolution brushes as well as ten transparent PNG files that can be used as an artistic texture on photo manipulations and photo effects. 

Light Smoke Waves Photoshop Brushes

Boke-Aji – 80 Large Bokeh Brushes

This is the ultimate round bokeh Photoshop brush pack, with over 80 different bokeh brushes to choose from! The Boke-Aji – 80 Large Bokeh Brushes pack is a must-have for any bokeh lover or someone who needs a quick and easy photo effect that can add vivid color and light.

Boke-Aji  80 Large Bokeh Brushes

75 Sunshine Photoshop Stamp Brushes

Add stunning light rays to any photo with these 75 Sunshine Photoshop Stamp Brushes! They can be used to add a little extra light to a photo or to create a whole new sun in a photo manipulation or painting. They are high resolution and a must-have for any artist's toolkit!

75 Sunshine Photoshop Stamp Brushes

100 Spotlight Photoshop Brushes

Another must-have for any digital artist, this pack of 100 Spotlight Photoshop Brushes will bring attention to whoever or whatever needs it the most! These brushes are high resolution and can be used to create several different photo effects. 

100 Spotlight Photoshop Brushes

30 Laser Photoshop Stamp Brushes

Add a streak of color to your photo with these 30 Laser Photoshop stamp brushes. Ideal for science fiction photo manipulations or even party flyers and designs. There are 30 brushes total, all going up to 2,500 pixels in size, and they work with any Photoshop version!

30 Laser Photoshop Stamp Brushes

25 Bokeh Cluster Photoshop Stamp Brushes

Tired of the typical round bokeh? Mix it up with these hexagon bokeh brushes! The 25 Bokeh Cluster Photoshop Stamp Brushes are all high resolution and are perfect for adding a subtle light portrait effect or for adding some vivid detail to a photo manipulation or digital painting.

25 Bokeh Cluster Photoshop Stamp Brushes

45 Lens Flare & Stars Photoshop Stamp Brushes

Lens flares and stars are the perfect way to add some drama and light to any photo! The 45 Lens Flare & Stars Photoshop Stamp Brushes pack not only contains 45 lens flare brushes, but they are all high resolution! Another must-have for any designer toolkit.  

45 Lens Flare  Stars Photoshop Stamp Brushes

30 Sunburst Photoshop Stamp Brushes

Add a vertical burst of lights for more directional precision using one of the 30 brushes from the 30 Sunburst Photoshop Stamp Brushes pack!

30 Sunburst Photoshop Stamp Brushes

Lens Flare & Stars Photoshop Brushes

The Lens Flare & Stars Photoshop Brushes pack contains 42 high-quality lens flares and star brushes that will add a bit of shine to any object or subject! Ideal for product retouching or for when you want to add just a subtle bit of shine to a portrait or photo. Another everyday tool for a graphic designer or illustrator. 

Lens Flare  Stars Photoshop Brushes

Top 10 Glow Effect Photoshop Actions

Adding glow to an image is the perfect way to set the mood or establish an atmosphere. Do not underestimate the power of a good glow! 

Here are ten of the best Photoshop actions to add some glow to your photos. 

Glow in the Dark Photoshop Actions

Show off the glow that comes from the inside with this Glow in the Dark Photoshop action! This photo effect is adjustable, non-destructive, and easy to apply. So you can mix, match, and play with different photo effects until you get the perfect glow!

Glow in the dark Photoshop Actions

Gif Animated Luminance Photoshop Action

The Luminance Photoshop action not only adds a stick of subtle glow to any image, but it also creates moving GIFs to bring this photo effect to life! This action also comes with a tutorial.

Gif Animated Luminance Photoshop Action

Magic Dust Photoshop Action

Love all things glowy and magical? This Magic Dust Photoshop Action pack creates a cloud of magical dust on your image! You simply brush over your photo where you want to create the magic dust and play the action! 

Magic Dust Photoshop Action

Soft Focus 3 Photoshop Action

Add a soft subtle glow to your subject using the Soft Focus 3 Photoshop Action pack. This action makes a soft and subtle glow that creates the perfect photo effect for classical portraits. A must-have for any photographer!  

Soft Focus 3 Photoshop Action

Zodiac Photoshop Action CS4+

Get in touch with your celestial side by adding some out-of-this-world glow to your images! Complete with glowy nebulas and shining stars, the Zodiac Photoshop Action creates a stunning photo effect that is perfect for both portrait and figure photos. It generates a new result every time you run it, for a unique result every time!

Zodiac Photoshop Action CS4

Starfield Photoshop Action

Create a professional Starfield effect filled with stars, glowing lines, and galaxies. The Starfield Photoshop Action pack turns average action shots into full-blown photo manipulations with just a couple of clicks! The final result is outstanding, with fully editable layers, colors, and elements, so you can customize it to fit your specific needs.

Starfield Photoshop Action

Ethereal Dream Photoshop Action CS4+

Add an ethereal glow to your portraits and action shots to add another layer of drama and detail. The perfect photo effect for party flyers, CD album covers, and edgy portraits! All the created layers are named, structured, and placed in folders for easy editing.

Ethereal Dream Photoshop Action CS4

White Glow Mobile & Desktop Lightroom Presets

White Glow Mobile & Desktop Lightroom Presets will add bright, moody, and glowing tones with high contrast to your photographs within a few clicks! These presets work in both Lightroom and Photoshop and are perfect for indoor and outdoor photography, wedding photography, and fashion portraits.

White Glow Mobile  Desktop Lightroom Presets

Supernova CS4+ Photoshop Action

Add the ultimate glow of a supernova to your image. This photo effect is bursting with energy and color. The Supernova CS4+ Photoshop Action pack is striking enough to be used on promotional flyers and CD covers, while still being elegant enough to be used to create a fashion-forward photo manipulation or portrait effect.  

Supernova CS4 Photoshop Action

Spectrum Photoshop Action

Who says glow can't have some edge to it? Add a sharp glass-like photo effect using the Spectrum Photoshop Action pack! The action balances out the sharp edges by incorporating soft pastels and grey tones to create a modern abstract photo effect. 

Spectrum Photoshop Action


And there you have it! 50+ of the best glow and light effects around, along with some tips and tricks on how you might put your own glow and light effects on your photo, entirely from scratch! 

As always, keep experimenting with different techniques and practicing. Don't forget to post your version below, along with any questions, comments, or critiques!

Looking to learn more? Why not check out some of the following tutorials and resources:

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