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Lighting Effects

Lighting effects refers to a whole range of special effects related to how objects are lit. By illuminating objects in a unique way, you can change the entire feel of an image, drawing attention exactly where you want it.

Try it Yourself

Generate Lighting Effects on an Object

The primary tool, as you might expect, is Photoshop's Lighting Effects filter.

Start with an original image. Perhaps this is an image that is fairly flat as far as brightness is concerned. Perhaps it's an image that simply needs to be more three-dimensional to match its content. Figure 18.4, showing a doll and stuffed toy, is such an image. (If you want to follow along, download the image beardoll.jpg from the Sams website.)

Figure 18.4. The original image, in need of some special lighting.

At this point, I need to decide whether I want to light the entire scene or just the doll. Lighting just a selected object is more dramatic; lighting the whole canvas is more natural. I opted for a spotlight on her.

Choose Filter→Render→Lighting Effects to open the Lighting Effects dialog box (see Figure 18.5). From the Style pop-up menu near the top, choose Spotlight. You'll see the preview of your image on the left with the new spotlight effect.

Figure 18.5. The Lighting Effects dialog box.

Although Photoshop ships with a number of neat default settings, it's fun to play around with the various sliders and values. Don't be intimidated by the number of choices here.

To change the direction and/or shape of the spotlight, simply grab the handles around the oval you see on the left side of the dialog box. You can move them around as you want. You can even move the center point. Move everything around so that it looks something like what you see in Figure 18.6.

Figure 18.6. Glamour lighting is easy.

Now it looks like the non-lit parts of the image are too dark. You need to bring the overall lighting up a bit, so adjust the Ambience slider up a notch, and change the color of the spotlights.

That's pretty good. What if you tried something very different? Figure 18.7 shows the triple spotlights. You could make each one a different color, by clicking in the color swatch box and choosing something new. However, I think I like the previous version better.

Figure 18.7. This is overdone. Sometimes simple effects are best.



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