In this tutorial, you'll learn how to make light rays in Photoshop using an easy technique. To do that, you'll use different filters and color adjustments.
These brushes are great if you want to enhance the existing light on your photos or add light ray overlays to your photo manipulations or paintings.
What You Will Learn in This Photoshop Tutorial
- How to prepare the base for the sun rays
- How to create various sun rays
- How to create the light ray Photoshop brushes
- How to test your light beam Photoshop brushes
The following assets were used during the production of this tutorial:
- Entrance of a Church
- Old Dirty Window With Web and Sun Rays
- Narrow Corridor Inside the Medieval Wang Temple
I'll show you how to create two basic brushes in this tutorial. After that, you can play with different settings to create many more. Let's get started!
If you want to learn these techniques via video, check out our lesson on the Envato Tuts+ YouTube channel:
1. How to Prepare the Base for the Sun Rays
Create a New Document in Photoshop. Set its Width and Height to 5000 Pixels and Resolution to 72. Press OK.
Grab the Paint Bucket Tool (G). Pick a black color and Fill the Background layer with it. Create a new empty layer and name it SUN RAYS.
Grab the Elliptical Marquee Tool (M) and select the middle part of the image.
Go to Select > Modify > Feather Selection and set Feather Radius to 200 pixels. Press OK.
Set black as your Background and white as your Foreground.
Make sure the SUN RAYS layer is active by clicking on it. Go to Filter > Render > Clouds.
Go to Edit > Deselect.
2. How to Create Various Sun Rays
To create the base of our light beam Photoshop brushes, you need to blur the clouds you rendered in the previous step. There are plenty of variations of rays you can create. In this tutorial, I'll show you how to create two different brushes.
Select the SUN RAYS layer and hit Control-J to create a duplicate of the layer. Name the new layer SUN RAYS 1.
Make the SUN RAYS layer Invisible by clicking on the eye icon to the left of the layer.
Click on the SUN RAYS 1 layer. Go to Filter > Blur > Radial Blur and set the panel as shown below. Set Amount to 99 and select the Zoom Blur Method. Move the Blur Center to the top left corner.
To create sunbeams in Photoshop, press OK. Take a look at the result of this step.
To make the sun rays more visible, go to Image > Adjustments > Levels and set the Input Levels to 25; 0.65; 205. Press OK.
To add more details to the rays, you'll sharpen them a little in this step. Go to Filter > Sharpen > Unsharp Mask and set the Amount value to 1% and Radius to 180 Pixels. Press OK.
This is the base for your first brush. Make this layer Invisible for now by clicking on the eye icon on the left side of the layer so you can focus on creating another brush.
Right-click on the SUN RAYS layer and select Duplicate Layer or hit Control-J. Name the new layer SUN RAYS 2.
Go to Filter > Blur > Radial Blur and set the Amount to 99. Select Zoom Blur Method and set the Blur Center to the upper center of the image.
Press OK. To create a more visible effect, press Alt-Control-F on your keyboard to repeat it.
To make the sun rays narrower, go to Edit > Free Transform and transform them as shown below. Press OK to apply the changes.
3. How to Create the Light Ray Photoshop Brushes
You've already created the shapes of your brushes. Now you need to make the actual brushes from them. I'll show you how to do that for the first brush. The process is the same for the second brush.
Make the SUN RAYS 1 layer visible and the SUN RAYS and SUN RAYS 2 layers Invisible.
You need to invert the colors to create the proper shape of the brushes. Add a new Invert adjustment layer on top of all the layers.
Go to Select > All to select the whole image. Go to Edit > Copy Merged to Copy it and Edit > Paste to Paste it.
Go to Edit > Define Brush Preset and name the brush Sun Rays 1.
Do the same with the SUN RAYS 2 layer to create another brush.
4. How to Test Your Brushes
To create more variations of these two basic brushes, you can increase or decrease the contrast, sharpen them, make them wider or narrower with the Free Transform Tool, or set the blur from different directions. It's up to you which effect you prefer.
Before testing, let me give you a couple of tips on how you can create the most realistic results with your brushes:
- Study how light actually works and mimic it in your artworks. You can take a look at the photo in the preview to see real-life sun rays.
- Avoid using a pure white color while painting the light. It won't look realistic. Try some bright yellow or orange tones instead.
- Work with a lower brush opacity to get the most realistic result.
- Keep in mind the direction of the light. The rays should have the same direction.
- If you want to use the brushes on your photos, try to just enhance the light that is already on the photo.
Let's take a look at how the Sun Rays 1 brush works.
In the photo below, you can see how the Sun Rays 2 brush works. Here, I've used it to highlight the existing rays in the photo and make them more obvious.
Awesome Work, You're Now Done!
In this tutorial, you've learned how to make light beams in Photoshop and convert them into brushes. You can use them to enhance the light in your photos or to create a new light source from scratch. To get the most realistic light, I recommend studying how natural light works and also using a low opacity.
I hope you'll have fun working with these brushes. I'm looking forward to seeing your results!
Ray Brush Photoshop Packs From Envato Market
Step up your game with this brilliant set of Photoshop brushes dedicated to various lighting effects. Explore 82 effects for incredible light flares, bokeh, and so much more! Create an amazing light ray overlay for your photo! Download this pack to get access to a bonus set of light leaks and sun flares.
Do you want not only to create sunbeams in Photoshop but also to enhance your photos with awesome bokeh overlays? Check out this amazing package of light ray brushes with a great variety of different bokeh light effects.
If you need not just light ray brushes, but something more complex, then try this stunning action. This action adds amazing effects to your photos in a few simple steps. The final result is non-destructive and editable!
This ray brush Photoshop collection contains 75 hi-res elements and could be a great addition to any project. Try them on your photos or add some special effects to flyers, cards, or banners.
In this light ray overlay pack, you will find four awesome transparent PNG files, which you could easily use just by dragging and dropping them onto your images. All of the light rays come in 5000x3000 px size and 300 dpi resolution, so they could be used almost for any purposes.
If you're a fan of vintage and retro photo effects, you won't want to miss this amazing product! Here you'll find fabulous vintage light leaks and color presets. Add one simple light effect or combine them to get more complex results. All the effects are non-destructive and extremely easy to use.
Now you know how to make light beams in Photoshop, but if you want to learn more about lighting and light ray overlay effects, check out these awesome tutorials:
- Photoshop ActionsHow to Create a Light Leak Photoshop Color EffectIvan Gromov
- Adobe PhotoshopHow to Create a Light Particles Photoshop BrushJonathan Lam
- Photo EffectsHow to Make a Soft Light Photoshop Action to Create a Backlight EffectMarko Kožokar
- Adobe PhotoshopHow to Create a Rainbow Lens Flare Overlay Effect in PhotoshopIvan Gromov
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