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Creating an ethereal glow

From: Photoshop Artist in Action: Tim Grey's Prayer Sticks

Video: Creating an ethereal glow

Once I've applied a series of adjustment to an image and especially as I get to the point where I think I might be finished. I like to take a little bit of a step back from the photo. Sometimes take a break from the photo and then come back to it. And think about what else I might want to do. What might I want to change about the adjustments I've already applied. Or what other variations, what other adjustments might I like to add to the mix. And with this photo I feel like it might make sense to add an ethereal glow type of effect to make a little bit more of a dreamy look in the image.

Creating an ethereal glow

Once I've applied a series of adjustment to an image and especially as I get to the point where I think I might be finished. I like to take a little bit of a step back from the photo. Sometimes take a break from the photo and then come back to it. And think about what else I might want to do. What might I want to change about the adjustments I've already applied. Or what other variations, what other adjustments might I like to add to the mix. And with this photo I feel like it might make sense to add an ethereal glow type of effect to make a little bit more of a dreamy look in the image.

Now that sort of takes away a little bit in terms of the contrast that I've added for this photo but I think that it might work out nicely. Let's take a look at a method we can use for creating that ethereal glow. I want to create the glow based on this final image. And so I'm going to create a new layer that represents a copy of the entirety of this image. To do that I'll go ahead and click on the Create New Layer button and that will create a new layer, of course, but it's an empty layer. But now I'm going to merge all of the visible layers into this specific layer. And to do that I'm going to hold the Ctrl+Alt and Shift keys on Windows or the Cmd+Option and Shift keys on Macintosh and then press the letter E on the keyboard.

That will create a merged visible layer without actually flattening the overall image. I'll go ahead and double-click on the name for this layer and I'll just type Ethereal Glow, because this is the layer that I will use to add that effect. And then I'm going to reduce the opacity for this layer to 50% by pressing the number five on the keyboard. So that I'll be better able to evaluate the result during the next step which is to apply a blur to this image layer. So I'll go to the Filter menu and then choose Blur, followed by Gaussian blur, that will bring up the Gaussian blur dialog.

And you can see that I'm able to blur the image. But I'm blurring my ethereal glow layer, I'm not blurring the actual overall image. And because the opacity for that ethereal glow layer is set to 50%, I'm able to see through the blurred layer to the underlying sharp image below. I'll go ahead adjust the radius setting for the Gaussian blur effect, mostly looking at the image itself to evaluate the result. When I'm creating this effect I find that usually I'll use a radius of right about 10 pixels. So in this case 8.6 which is pretty darn close to 10 pixels. But that's a pretty good rule of thumb, I find when I'm using this effect. So, with that radius established, I'll go ahead and click the OK button. And that will apply the blur to that ethereal glow layer. I can now fine-tune the opacity for that layer.

So I'll go ahead and refine the opacity setting. And I think I want to reduce it a little bit below that 50% level. I want there to be a clear glow effect but I also don't want it to look too smeared, too blurred. So right about there looks pretty good. I'll toggle the visibility for that layer off and then on, and you can see that we get an impression of a glow within the image. I still have the appearance of sharpness within the photo but I also have a little bit of a glow effect. It makes that image look a little more ethereal.

I do think I'll reduce the opacity just a little bit more for for that layer, now that I've seen the final effect. And I think right about there is working pretty good. So I'm going to spend some time with the image, evaluating it, deciding whether or not I really like this ethereal glow effect. But for the moment I do think that it adds a nice impression for the photo.

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Photoshop Artist in Action: Tim Grey's Prayer Sticks

14 video lessons · 949 viewers

Tim Grey
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