Enhance your images with well-placed light

Whether you're retouching an underexposed image or you simply want to add a bit of light to an image, Photoshop is the perfect tool. By making broad lighting adjustments to an image, and then using the History Brush tool to paint in specific areas of light, you can quickly alter the way the image appears. This technique is great for creating faux focal points in images, as well as for detailed photo retouching, as demonstrated in Figure A. Let's take a closer look.

Figure A1.

Figure A2.

Prep the image


Open an RGB image in Photoshop that you want to add light to.


Choose Image Duplicate to make a duplicate to work on.


Name the file in the resulting dialog box, and then click OK.


Close the original image.

Selecting the darks

Next, we'll select the dark areas within the image. You can use the Color Range command to select the dark areas or you can select them manually using any of Photoshop's Selection tools. How you choose to make your selection depends on the areas you want to lighten.

Using the Color Range command

To select all of the shadows or dark areas within your image:


Choose Select Color Range.


Choose Shadows from the Select dropdown list in the resulting dialog box, shown in Figure B.

Figure B.


Click OK. Upon doing so, Photoshop automatically selects the shadows in your image for you, as shown in Figure C.

Figure C.

Manually making the selection

Now, if you want to add a stream of light or illuminate designated areas of your image that don't consist of shadow areas, you can do so by making your own selection. A quick and easy way to do so is to select the entire document and lighten it all. This gives you the most flexibility later when you paint in the light using the History Brush tool.

Adding light

Once you make your selection, it's time to add some light. So, with your selection active:


Choose Edit Fill.


Choose 50% Gray from the Use dropdown list in the resulting Fill dialog box, shown in Figure D.

Figure D.


Select Color Dodge from the Mode dropdown list.


Leave the Opacity text box at 100 and click OK. Upon doing so, Photoshop lightens and brightens the selected areas of your image, as shown in Figure E.

Figure E.


If you want to lighten the selection even more, apply an additional fill to your selection using the same settings. If you want to lessen the effect, choose Edit Working in the History palette


Deselect your image by pressing [Ctrl]D (D on the Mac).


Click the Create New Snapshot button at the base of the History palette. This takes a photo of your image, which Photoshop then stores in the History palette.


Select the original image thumbnail in the History palette, and then set the source of the History Brush to the new snapshot by clicking on the empty box next to the Snapshot 1 thumbnail, as shown in Figure F. Finally, you're ready to paint in some light.

Figure F.

Painting in history

To add light to your image:


Select the History Brush tool from the Toolbox.


Choose a soft round brush to paint with from the Brush pop-up window on the tool options bar.


Set the Opacity of the brush to 45%.


Use the History Brush tool to paint over the areas in your image that you want to lighten, as shown in Figure G.

Figure G.

Coming up with bright ideas

Using the History Brush tool, you can add light to your images without worrying about washing out already-lit areas. You can also create some amazing dramatic scenes with surreal lighting effects. Have fun and experiment to see how you can shed some light on your images.

Get the Image You Want(c) Essential Photoshop Editing Techniques 2005
Get the Image You Want(c) Essential Photoshop Editing Techniques 2005
Year: 2004
Pages: 105

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