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How to Create a Sunburst Effect Action in Adobe Photoshop

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This post is part of a series called Photo Effects.
How to Create a Money Engraving Action: Photoshop in 60 Seconds
How to Create a Rock Blast Effect Action in Adobe Photoshop
Final product imageFinal product imageFinal product image
What You'll Be Creating

This sunlight photo effect is a part of the Rays Of Light Photoshop Action from my portfolio on Envato Market

You can also the check the Animated Sunlight Photoshop Creator. The color tones of the sunlight rays and the flare effects are easy to edit and customize.

Sunlight Rays Photoshop ActionSunlight Rays Photoshop ActionSunlight Rays Photoshop Action
Sunlight Rays Photoshop Action

Tutorial Assets

For this tutorial, you have to download this image:

1. Add the Beach Stock Image

Create a new PSD file and add the Tropical Beach stock image on a new layer.

Tropical Beach Stock ImageTropical Beach Stock ImageTropical Beach Stock Image

2. Create the Sunlight Effect

Step 1

Go to Layer > New Fill Layer and add a Gradient adjustment layer.

Gradient Fill Adjustment LayerGradient Fill Adjustment LayerGradient Fill Adjustment Layer

Step 2

Edit the settings of the Gradient Fill adjustment layer. Change the Gradient color tones: #ffffff (location 0%, opacity 100%), #ffba00 (location 36%) and #ffba00 (location 100%, opacity 0%).

Edit Gradient Fill Color TonesEdit Gradient Fill Color TonesEdit Gradient Fill Color Tones

Step 3

Change the gradient Style and choose Radial. Drag the image on the screen to move the sun as shown in the preview.

Gradient Style RadialGradient Style RadialGradient Style Radial

Step 4

Set the Blend Mode of the Gradient layer to Screen.

Screen Blending ModeScreen Blending ModeScreen Blending Mode

3. Create Rays of Light in Photoshop

Step 1

Create a new layer and fill it with color #000000

Fill Layer with ColorFill Layer with ColorFill Layer with Color

Step 2

Use the Brush Tool and color #ffffff to add dots with different sizes. 

Make sure the dots are added in the center of the layer. 

Add Dots with Brush ToolAdd Dots with Brush ToolAdd Dots with Brush Tool

Step 3

Go to Filter > Blur > Radial Blur and make these settings to create the rays of light. 

Press Control-F to apply the Radial Blur multiple times.

Radial Blur in PhotoshopRadial Blur in PhotoshopRadial Blur in Photoshop
Rays of LightRays of LightRays of Light

Step 4

Set the Blend Mode to Screen and move the rays over the sun.

Sunlight Rays in PhotoshopSunlight Rays in PhotoshopSunlight Rays in Photoshop

4. Create a Sun Flare in Photoshop

Step 1

Create a new layer and fill it with color #000000

Fill Layer with ColorFill Layer with ColorFill Layer with Color

Step 2

Go to Filter > Render > Lens Flare

Lens Flare in PhotoshopLens Flare in PhotoshopLens Flare in Photoshop

Step 3

Set the Blend Mode to Screen and move the flare over the sun.

Sun Flare in PhotoshopSun Flare in PhotoshopSun Flare in Photoshop

Step 4

Go to Image > Adjustments > Levels and adjust the contrast of the flare image to make it brighter.

Levels Adjustment LayerLevels Adjustment LayerLevels Adjustment Layer

5. Adjust the Color Balance

Go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer and add a Color Balance adjustment layer.

Color Balance AdjustmentColor Balance AdjustmentColor Balance Adjustment

6. Create a Realistic Cast Shadow Effect

Step 1

The result looks beautiful, but it is not quite realistic. 

For realistic results, we have to take into account the shadows that are already in the image. That will give you some clues about the position of the sun.

Cast Shadow EffectCast Shadow EffectCast Shadow Effect

Step 2

So a more realistic result will be with the position of the sun higher and on the right side of the image.

You can easily move the rays of light, the sun flare, and the sunlight layers to a position that looks realistic.

Cast Shadow in PhotoshopCast Shadow in PhotoshopCast Shadow in Photoshop

Congratulations! You're Done!

In this tutorial, you've learned how to create a sunlight effect in Photoshop from scratch using filters and adjustment layers. I hope you've enjoyed this tutorial.  

Create Sunlight Effect in PhotoshopCreate Sunlight Effect in PhotoshopCreate Sunlight Effect in Photoshop

You can also the check the Animated Sunlight Photoshop Creator. The color tones of the sunlight rays and the flare effects are easy to edit and customize.

This sunlight photo effect is a part of the Rays Of Light Photoshop Action from my portfolio on Envato Market

Sunlight Rays Photoshop ActionSunlight Rays Photoshop ActionSunlight Rays Photoshop Action
Sunlight Rays Photoshop Action
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