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How to Create an 80s Neon Horns Photo Manipulation in Adobe Photoshop

Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

Today, we will be creating an 80s-inspired poster featuring a pair of glowing neon devil horns! We will not only create brilliant vivid lights by combining different Layer Modes and Adjustment Layers, but we will also use those same techniques to develop shadows to show how versatile they really are. 

Tutorial Assets

Here is what you will need to complete this tutorial. 

Find even more gorgeous resources on Envato Elements!

1. How to Construct a Background

To start things off, we will be creating a very simple "scan line" background.

Step 1

First, create a New Document at 2277 x 3155 px.

Create a Color Fill adjustment layer and fill it with a dark muted blue #09080d.

Step 2

Next, open a New Document at 17 x 5 px. 

Zoom in very, very close since our canvas is very small. 

Using a hard Brush at a Size of 2-4 px, paint four lines from right to left, leaving a transparent line on the far left, in the colors below:

  1. Muted Purple #482f4a
  2. Muted Red #6d3742
  3. Muted Blue #353661
  4. Muted Purple #482f4a
Create vertical pattern
The above image is zoomed 3200%. 

Step 3

Go to Edit > Define Pattern, name it "Vertical Scan Lines", and then press OK.

Go to Image > Image Rotation > 90° Counter-Clockwise.

Once again, go to Edit > Define Pattern, name it "Horizontal Scan Lines", and then press OK.

So, we have created two new patterns!

Step 4

Go back to our original canvas and create a Pattern Fill layer and use your newly created "Horizontal Lines" pattern. 

Create another Pattern Fill layer and do the same with the "Vertical Lines" pattern.

Set both pattern layers to 19% Opacity. 

Set scan line layers to 19 opacity

Step 5

To finish up the background, create a New Layer.

Use the Gradient Tool to create a dark blue #09080d to transparent gradient starting at the bottom of the canvas to the middle of the canvas.

Group all the background layers into a new group and name it "Background". 

Create dark blue gradient

2. How to Create Neon Lights

Next, we will be moving on to one of the main features of this image: the neon lights! 

Step 1 

First, using the Custom Shape Tool, create a large diamond shape with a Transparent Fill and a white Stroke of 17 px. The Size should be 1500 x 1900 px. 

Duplicate the diamond and bring it halfway down to the middle of the original diamond. 

Repeat the last step again to make three diamonds total.  

Create three diamond shapes

Step 2

Next, add an Outer Glow layer style to the first diamond. See the settings below:

  • Blend Mode: Screen
  • Opacity: 100
  • Color: Bright Purple #9230ff
  • Size: 136
Add outer glow

Now, Right-Click > Copy Layer Style and Right-Click > Paste Layer Style on the other two diamonds to give them the same glow as well. 

Copy paste outer glow

Step 3

Duplicate the three diamonds, bring the duplicates above the original diamonds, and Right-Click > Clear Layer Style to all three duplicate diamonds. Then merge the duplicates together, leaving us with a plain white three-diamond design. 

Right-Click > Paste Layer Style onto the newly merged diamond duplicate.

Go into the Outer Glow layer style and change the Size to 29. This is to intensify the glow even further. 

Add more glow to diamonds

Step 4

To create a chromatic effect, duplicate the previously duplicated and merged diamonds.

Go into its Glow layer style and change the Size from 29 to 50.

Duplicate the new duplicate, and merge the two layers together. This will combine the two glows and make them even more intense!

Bring the new duplicated diamonds above all current layers and set the layer mode to Screen. 

Double-Click on the newly merged diamond layer to open up the Layer Style panel.

Go to Channels and uncheck "B".

Move the layer 3 px to the right and rename it "Chromatic Yellow."

Add chromatic aberration

Step 5

Duplicate the "Chromatic Yellow" layer and rename it "Chromatic Blue."

Double click the "Chromatic Blue" layer to open up the Layer Style panel. Check "B" and uncheck "R".

Move the "Chromatic Blue" layer to the left by 6 px

Add blue chromatic aberration

Step 6

Create a New Layer. 

Add some light reflections to the corners of the diamonds using a soft, medium round Brush with a 1% Flow. Paint in a few six-pointed stars at the corners of the diamonds. 

Draw six point stars

Step 7

Create a New Layer and set it to Soft Light.

Using a very large, soft round Brush, paint a white blob of white in the lower-middle portion of the canvas. 

Add soft light

Step 8

Create a New Layer and set it to Overlay. 

Using the same large white Brush, paint more light in the middle of the canvas as well as smaller blobs of light on the three-diamond design. 

Add harsh overlay light

Step 9

Create a New Layer and set it to Overlay.

Using the same Brush, paint black in the upper portion of the canvas including the corners. 

Group all the neon light images together and name the group "Diamonds."

Add black contrast

3. How to Create a Smokey Eye Makeup Effect 

Now, we will be moving on to processing our main subject, focusing on her eye makeup!

Step 1

First, let's cut and extract our model using your preferred method. As we don't have to worry about any fur, cloth or hair extractions, absolutely any method will work!

Place the model in the middle of the canvas, showing her body from the waist up. 

Place model in middle of canvas

Step 2

Create and clip the following three adjustment layers into the model's layer:

  1. Black to White Gradient Map layer at 55% Opacity 
  2. Brightness/Contrast layer: Brightness -27 and Contrast 100
  3. Curves layer: 
Curves settings
Color correction adjustment layers for model

Step 3

Next, we will create a dark makeup effect using nothing but adjustment layers!

Create a Black to White Gradient Map and clip it to the model, above all the previous adjustment layers. 

Click the gradient map's layer mask and hit Control-I to invert it to black. 

Using a soft, round Brush set to white mask in some of the black and white around the eyes, below her eyes and all the way up to her eyebrows. 

Add black and white around eyes

Step 4

Create and clip a Brightness/Contrast layer into the model above all the other layers. Set the settings to Brightness -104 and Contrast -50.

Press Control-I to invert the layer mask to black.

Once again, with a soft white Brush, mask back in some of the dark around her eyes up to her eyebrows and down to the top of the cheeks. Bring the dark a bit further down than the black and white. Also, add a bit to the bottom of her nose. 

Darken  skin around eyes

Step 5

Create and clip a Curves adjustment layer to the model; bring it above all other clipped layers. Settings: 

Curves laye settings

Press Control-I to invert the layer mask to black.

Again, take a soft white Brush and mask back in some of the black in the same general area of the black and white. We want a "smokey eye" effect. 

Add darke smokey makeup effect

Step 6

Create and clip another Brightness/Contrast layer into the model. Settings: Brightness -104.

Press Control-I to invert the layer mask to black.

Using the same white Brush, but now with a Flow of 1%, paint in some subtle darkness around her outer eyes, cheeks, and nose. We don't want this to be as dark as her eyes. 

Darken cheeks and forehead

Step 7

Create and clip a Curves adjustment layer to our model. Settings:

Curves settings for eyes and nose

Press Control-I to invert the layer mask to black.

Using a soft round Brush, set to white, mask in some red-purple under the eyes and nose. 

Paint in color to eyes and nose

Step 8

Create and clip a New Layer to the model.

Using a large, soft round Brush, paint the top and upper sides of the model's hair solid black. 

Create and clip one last layer to the model.

Now, using a hard, very small round Brush, paint solid white highlights in the model's hair and on her shoulders. You can add some soft lines as well, but for the most part, we want harsh white lines to almost make her look illustrated. 

Paint in hair highlights

Group all our model layers together and name the group "Model."

Current layers so far

4. How to Create a Starry Eyed Effect   

Next, we will be giving our model a pair of starry demon eyes!

Step 1

Create a New Layer. 

Using a hard, round Brush set to black, fill in the eyes.

Set the layer Opacity to 50%.

Darken eyes

Step 2

Using the Custom Shape Tool, place a white star shape in the middle of the model's pupil. Set the star's Opacity to 36%. 

Create a star shape on pupil

Add a Layer Mask to the star and invert it by hitting Control-I. 

Using a small, soft round Brush, mask back in the middle and some of the edges of the star. If you are having trouble, you can set the Brush Flow to 5% to help control how much you are masking back in. 

Mask out star shape

Step 3

Duplicate the star shape and delete its layer mask. 

Set the layer mode to Soft Light with an Opacity of 83%. 

Add a new Layer Mask and then, using a semi-hard round Brush, mask out the top point of the star as it would be hidden by her eyelid shadow. 

Place second overlay star

Repeat the same steps for the right eye!

Finish the rught eye

Step 4

To finish up the eyes, we are going to add a bit more light so that they really stand out. Create a New Layer and set it to Overlay. 

With a large, soft round Brush, paint white over each of the eyes. Set the layer Opacity to 47%. 

Finally, paint some highlights in the eyes, similar to the hair highlights, with a very small, hard round Brush. Paint lines across the eyelids and in the eyelashes to really make them pop. 

Add eye highlights

Group all the eye layers together and rename the group "Eyes."

Current layers so far

5. How to Create Neon Typography

Next, we are moving on to the typography!

Step 1

Using the font face "Brandine", type out the words "Satanic" and "Panic" separately. We want them on separate layers. Align them similarly to how you see below. 

Place font

Step 2

Apply an Outer Glow layer style to both texts. Settings below: 

  • Blend Mode: Screen
  • Opacity: 100
  • Color: Bright Purple #9230ff
  • Size: 70
Add outer glow
Add glow to text

Step 3

Next, we are going to add some chromatic aberration to the text in almost the same way as we did with the diamonds.

Duplicate both "Satanic" and "Panic" and bring the duplicates above the original text.  

Right-Click > Rasterize Type, Right-Click > Rasterize Layer Style and then Right-Click > Merge Layers. 

Set the layer style to Screen and rename it "Chromatic Blue Text."

Double-Click "Chromatic Blue Text" to open up the Layer Style panel and uncheck "R".

Move the "Chromatic Blue Text" layer 2 px to the right and 2 px down. 

Add a blur by going to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur. Set the Radius to 5 px.

Add blue chromatic abberation

Step 4

Now, we are going to add some yellow chromatic aberration by duplicating the "Chromatic Blue Text" layer. 

Rename the layer "Chromatic Yellow Text".

Double-Click "Chromatic Yellow Text" to open up the Layer Style panel. Check "R" and uncheck "B".

Move the "Chromatic Yellow Text" layer 10 px up and 5 px to the right.

Add yellow chromatic aberration

Group all the text layers together and name the group "Text."

Current layers so far

6. How to Paint Neon Horns

Next, we are going to focus on the main feature of the poster: the neon horns! 

Step 1

You could just paint the horns using a hard round Brush set to a violet purple #5132c0, but for those of you who are not painterly, a neat trick is using the Polygonal Marquee Tool! 

Create a New Layer and, using the Polygonal Marquee Tool, create a selection in the shape of a crooked, sharp "C" or any other horn shape!

Use the Lasso Tool to round out the part of the horn that connects to the forehead. Don't worry about it being perfectly round; you won't see the bottom of the horns in the final piece, anyway. 

Grab any brush, and paint in the selection with some violet purple #5132c0.

Draw left horn

Create a second horn, or alternatively duplicate, flip and shrink the existing horn layer and move it to the opposite side of the forehead.  

Copy horn to the left

Step 2

Add an outer glow to both of the horns using the settings below: 

  • Blend Mode: Screen
  • Opacity: 26%
  • Color: Violet Purple #5132c0
  • Size: 250 px
Add glow to horns

Clip a New Layer to both horns, and paint the bottom half of the horns pure white.

Set both horn layers to Screen. 

Set horns to screen

Step 3

Create a New Layer above the horn layers. 

Using a large, soft round Brush, paint white at the point where the horns meet the forehead. This is so that the horns blend into the forehead; we want that whole area solid white.

Create a New Layer, and using a medium, soft round Brush with a flow of 1% paint a six-point star coming from the newly painted white light. 

Group all the current horn layers, including the white light, into a group and name it "Horns."

Add glw to base of horn

Step 4

Next, we are going to add some detail to the horns.

Create a New Layer and set it to Overlay. 

Go back into our horns folder and create a selection in the shape of the left horn by holding Control and then Right-Clicking the left horn layer.

Now, add a Layer Mask to the new layer. This will create a layer mask in the shape of the left horn. 

Using a small, hard, white round Brush, sketch in some details/lines/ridges onto the left horn. The layer mask will help keep the lines sharp and contained in the horn shape.

Create a New Layer and add some shadows using the same technique. I set the shadow layer to 33% Opacity. 

Add details to left horn

Repeat the above steps to add detail to the right horn, as well. 

Add detaisl to right horn

Step 5

Next, we are going to create the light beam effect coming from the horns, which is done by using a custom brush created from our horn shape! 

Create a New Document in a large enough size to fit our left horn—we will crop it down to its exact size in a moment, so the size really doesn't matter. Just make it big enough.  

Drag and drop the left horn layer into the new document, make sure the layer mode is set to Normal, and crop it down to the exact size. 

Remove any layer styles and turn the horn pure black. 

Create horn brush

Step 6

Go to Edit > Define Brush and press OK.

Go back to the main file, create a New Layer, and set the layer to Screen.  

Select the Brush Tool, choose our newly created brush and go to Window > Brush Settings to open the Brush Settings panel. 

Set the Spacing to 1% and the Flow to 1% as well. Set the color to a muted pink #b3838d.

Align the brush with the horn and paint down in a swooping motion.

Add light comming off of horn using brush

Step 7

Check Flip X in the Brush Settings panel to flip the brush, reduce the size until it's roughly the same size as the right horn, and then paint the same swooshing motion.

You don't have to bring it straight down, nor does the brush have to line up exactly with the horn. This is a perfect spot to experiment and do what you think looks best! 

Bring the Opacity of the layer down to 85%.

Add light to right horn using brush

Step 8

Create a New Layer and set it to Screen. 

Using a very large, soft round Brush, paint a light blue #b3838d on the top of the horns. 

Bring the layer Opacity to 70%.

Add soft blue light

Step 9

Go back to the layers we painted the beams of light on (with the brush we created) and duplicate it.

Bring the duplicate above the blue glow, and then set the layer to Overlay. 

Add a Layer Mask to the light beam duplicate, and then using a large, soft round Brush, mask out the bottom half of the beams. 

Duplicate that layer, and then mask even more out so that the glow is strongest on top of the horns. 

Add harsh white light

Step 10

To finish up the horns, create a Curves adjustment layer. Settings:

Curves adjustment settings

Press Control-I to invert the curve's layer mask and make it black. 

Using a large, soft round Brush, paint white in the middle of the horns, dragging in a downward motion. 

Group all the horn layers together, including the "Horns" group, into a new group and also name it "Horns."

Layers so far

7. How to Achieve an 80s Vintage Color Effect

We are in the final stretch! Now, all we have to do is tie everything together with a vintage finish. 

We will do this by using several different adjustment layers—seven, to be precise. They are ordered from last to first, meaning each new layer will go on top of the last.

They are already grouped in the group "CC", colored and numbered so you won't get lost!

Step 1

  1. Color Lookup layer: (Abstract) Pastel Hues at 36% Opacity.
  2. Color Lookup layer: (Device Link) RedBlueYellow at 35% Opacity.
  3. Color Lookup layer: (3DLUT File) FoggyNight at 33% Opacity. Double-Click the color lookup layer to open its Layer Style panel. Set the Underlying Layer to what you see below.
  4. Tip: Hold Alt and then click and drag to separate the toggles. 
Underlying layer settings
Add first 3 adjusment layers

Step 2

Now, for the second batch of adjustment layers!

  1. Channel Mixer layer: Red +129, Green -45 and Blue -5.
  2. Curves layer: 
Curve layer settings

Using a large, soft round Brush, mask out the middle of the canvas to create a vignette. 

Add next 2 adjustment layers

Step 3

And finally, the last set of adjustment layers!

  1. Color Lookup layer: (Abstract) Turquoise-Sepia at 61% Opacity.
  2. Color Lookup layer: (3DLUT File) FallColors at 50% Opacity.
Add final adjustment layers

We've Done It!

As we've learned here, adjustment layers are incredibly versatile and can be used for anything from dark, grungy makeup to vivid neon lights. Always take the time to experiment with different colors, settings, and shapes—this effect has no "wrong way!"

And as always, share your art down below, along with any comments or questions! 

Final Image
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