How to Create a Summer Glow in Photoshop

Rating: 5.00 based on 2 Ratings
  By Julian
How to Create a Summer Glow in Photoshop

Well hello there, are you ready for an awesome Photoshop Tutorial today?


We today I figured since it’s so cold and miserable where I am I’d do a Tutorial with the complete opposite feel to it and add a little sunshine to my life 🙂

We’re going to be using this Image below today for our Photoshopping.

So this image isn’t exactly the brightest of Images so we’ll have to do a little bit of editing to it first to bring it to life before we add the summer glow.

The types of images that you need to be looking for, for this would be images that have the light coming from behind the subject or a light neutral one, mine is more neutral.

Things that you could use this for is social media images, you could really add a bit of life to a few of your shots and maybe have people asking “Hey were you on holiday? where is this?!” but in reality, you were just chilling at you mansion haha.

Ok let’s get to it… your Photoshop is open I assume…

Cool, so the first thing I’m going to do here is to go to Layer and create a Duplicate Layer.

Next, I want to fix the dullness of my image, your image may be fine as is but if you want to create another duplicate layer and try this out just to see what happens then, by all means, follow along, you can always delete the layer afterwards if it didn’t work out too great.

So go up to Image – Adjustments – Curves

Just to keep this mega simple we’re not going to mess around with anything manually, instead, you’ll see “Auto” so click on that and that should improve your image.

Then I’m going to go up where I found Curves, only this time I’m going to click on Levels, then again I’m just going to hit that Auto and see what happens.

Don’t worry if it doesn’t work out for you, you can always key in on your keyboard Ctrl + Alt + Z for taking a step backward, I do this just as a test anyway to see what I get out of it.

Next, create yourself a New Layer

Layer-New – Layer

Then we’re going to open up our Gradient Tool as shown below.

Now, look at the top left-hand corner of the image below.

You will see [File Edit Image etc]

Directly under Layer, you will see a few little icons that look like squares with little gradient images in them.

You want to choose the second one there, that’s the Radial Gradient, it’s between the words Layer and Type

Beside those Icons you will see a Gradient Bar that is under File, Edit and Image, it’s the bar that blends from White to Black when you click on that you’ll see all the different Gradients that are available to you from the standard Photoshop Presets.

This is your Gradient Editor.

At the top, you’ll see the standard Presets Swatches.

And underneath that, you’ll see the gradient bar itself with the little tabs at the top and bottom at each end.

So if you grab those bottom tabs and slide them you will notice the color on the bottom will shift to more or less.

So move everything back to where it was and click on the top one, the top one indicates the opacity, you will see the option for this underneath the Gradient Bar.

Drop the Opacity of the first stop to 0%

Then when you do this, click on the bottom just under the bar beside the first little tab, you will now see a new one that has been created.

When you double-click on the tab it will open up some color options, click at the bottom for Black, you can click and drag on this by the way.

Then make the one on the right-hand side all white.

When you have done this go back to the black one and just above it click on the top bar to create a new opacity tab for it, then change it’s opacity to 100%

You can move the black bottom tab out a little bit to where I have it or just a little bit further.

Now go to your screen, click and drag on the top left-hand corner and test it out on your Image, does it end with Black on the end of the Gradient?

If not then you’ll have to click on the reverse box to correct that, you find this in the three options at the end of the Gradient options (you know the ones with the icons and Gradient Editor on it at the top of your normal workspace) below File, Edit etc.

When you have this correct, create something similar to what I have below.

When you get here we will be able to start colourizing the Gradient, because what we have right now is only the foundation of what’s to come so don’t worry.

Ok, for now, you can click on the little Eye Icon in your layers panel [you will see that in the image below sticking out on the right-hand side] beside your Gradient Layer to turn it off for now.

Next up we’re going to be creating what is known as a Gradient map, it’ is something similar to what we have created already only it’s an Adjustment Layer.

So to create this you have to go to…

Layer-New Adjustment Layer – Gradient Map

You can see that it is sort of similar, the same kind of rules apply and you’ll see what I mean in a minute, the major change is that it affects your Highlights and Shadows.

When you click on the Gradient bar you see the same Gradient editor as before appear.

Ok, so what we’re going to do now is to create the colors for our image.

As before remember we talked about clicking on the bottom of the bar to create brand new tabs were we could double-click on to create our own colors for our Gradient.

Well, I want you to create 3 new ones just like I have done below.

Once you have created the colours then you’ll change the blending mode, but first I just want to note that you want the colours to go from light to darkest, so from yellow to almost red, it doesn’t really matter what end you start from either because you can always reverse the Gradient when needed.

Now click on the Eye icon to turn that layer off temperately.

Now click on the layer with the first Gradient that we created.

Where to find the Blend Mode? well, when you look at your layers panel you will see the word “Normal” in there.

Click on this to open up your Blend mode dropbox and choose Screen

This will now hide the Black part of your gradient and just leave the White.

Cool now go back to your Gradient Map, click the eye icon to activate it again and right click on the layer, you’ll see a panel appear, find where it says Create Clipping Mask and click on that.

Now we’re going to duplicate this layer, the easiest way to do this is to click on it and drag it down on the layers panel to the icon beside the little recycling bin at the bottom of the panel, it looks like a little bot with a paper fold on it.

Drag it down click and release, or go to Layer – Duplicate Layer.

When you have done that then click and drag the duplicate down to position it just above your original image copy.

You can now drop the opacity of the layer to make it more realistic.

If your Gradient is as mine is below you can go back into your Gradient Map and click on Reverse.

The last little touch before I play around with the positioning which is done by clicking on the layer and keying in Ctrl + T to open up the Transform Tool which will let you resize your Radial Gradient, is to open up a new Layer and to select the second gradient over on your Presets which should just be White with zero opacity, if it’s not there than as an exercise create your own using the information we have discussed here today.

Then just give the image a little bit more of a White glow Gradient at the top left-hand side to complete our image.

As you can see from what our original image is we have dramatically changed the overall feeling of the image to something that was rather dull to now something that feels warm and welcoming.


Rating: 5.00 based on 2 Ratings
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Graduated from college in 2002 with a degree in Art & Design, I started exploring my way in Graphic Design and Professional Post Production. Full-time freelancer since 2011.

Comments (2)

  1. Julian
    Julian Verified buyer

    Hi Bethany, I think you may have missed changing the Blend Mode to Screen? let me know and I’ll get back to you 🙂

  2. Bethany Guest

    Yeah I tried following this and am hopelessly stuck unfortunately! As I want to create this effect. My final image is black and white and I don’t know what I missed but my first gradient layer isn’t showing up anything except black and white.

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