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Painting in the light

From: Photoshop Artist in Action: Steve Caplin's Day for Night

Video: Painting in the light

The lamp stands neatly on the left of the image providing a potential focus to draw the eye. All we need to do now is to turn the light on. When we were placing the lamp, we hid the Adjustment layer to darken up the scene beneath. So let's now turn that back on again. And while we're at it, let's name this object, lamp, so we'll remember it later. The first thing we want to do is to light up the lamp, itself. So, let's zoom in on it. Lighting up this lamp is a surprisingly easy process.

Painting in the light

The lamp stands neatly on the left of the image providing a potential focus to draw the eye. All we need to do now is to turn the light on. When we were placing the lamp, we hid the Adjustment layer to darken up the scene beneath. So let's now turn that back on again. And while we're at it, let's name this object, lamp, so we'll remember it later. The first thing we want to do is to light up the lamp, itself. So, let's zoom in on it. Lighting up this lamp is a surprisingly easy process.

We'll make a new layer and we'll call it, lamplight. Let's use the Brush tool, and we'll go for a large Soft edge brush. Now in Photoshop CS4 and higher, we can re-size this brush by holding Ctrl and Alt keys on a Mac, Right-click and Alt on a PC. And as we drag side to side, this makes our brush bigger.. So I'm going to pick a light yellow color and simply paint a spot of yellow.

Onto this lamp and that gives the glow around the edge. Let's now switch to white and make our brush smaller. Another way of changing brush size is to use the Square bracket keys. The Left bracket makes the brush smaller and the Right bracket makes it bigger again. With a smaller brush, we can now paint with white in the middle of this. And that is the easiest way to light up our lamp. When the image is completed, that will look perfectly convincing. Okay, well the light may be lit up, what it's not doing is having any effect on the background and that's what we need to address now.

To add the light, let's go back to the Adjustment layer then Darken the scene in the first place. This is the Adjustment layer, where you turn it on and off to see the difference. Now we already worked on the Layer Mask to make these windows lit up, let's work on it further. With the mask selected, we can paint in black to hide the affect. Let's make our brush bigger, and we'll zoom in a little. And lets paint out the effect of this darkening on this wall behind and on the ground.

And what is is actually doing is returning our image to the original state of it, remember it was a bright sunny day when the photograph was taken. By hiding the lighting effect on here, what we're doing is creating the illusion of light coming from this lamp. As I say, in fact, all we're actually doing is the darkening effect. Now, that's all very well. But for some reason, the base of our lamp looks a little unconvincing. And the reason for that is, although the light does brighten up the scene behind it.

It also needs to cast a shadow, where the stand, itself, is preventing the light from reaching the pavement. So again with our Layer Mask, let's switch to white and remember pressing the X key will swap between the foreground and the background colors. Let's make our brush smaller and now let's paint in some of the shadow back on this base. And once again what we are doing now is enabling the Adjustment layer that darkens the scene to have an effect. Let's reduce the Opacity down to about 50% and paint a slightly larger area till we blend this into the background more the more effectively. That's maybe a bit too much.

The beauty of a Layer Mask is that we can paint in and out as much as we want; using the X key to switch between black, which paints out on the mask and white which paints back in again. If we partially paint it back in again the brush is set to 50% Opacity. We got a more rather subtle effect of a shadow beneath the lamp and now we are done. The street lamp adds a real focus to the image drawing the eye neatly throughout the picture. The pool of light on the fence and on the ground help to locate the lamp firmly within the scene.

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