In this tutorial, you will learn how to create a realistic spotlight in Photoshop. I have included two version of it for you. Watch the video and then scroll down and read the step by step instructions. There are different tips and techniques in each format.  Add a comment and let me know your thoughts, questions and requests.


light001Consider the Porsche photo as an example. It is little underexposed and might be improved with a few levels or curves. Let’s create a spotlight effect rather than simply lightening the image, which would be our natural impulse, to add a little more attention.


Begin by creating a selection with the elliptical marquee tool.


Choose > Transform Selected

The bounding box will show up.

The selection can now be rotated, scaled, and resized.

Rotate the choice so the oval strikes the car at a slight angle as illustrated.


Press enter/return to apply the transformation to the selection

We are now going to create a curves adjustment layer.

Choose a new adjustment layer from the bottom of the layers palette and select curves

You should now see the curves dialog box

Move the mouse outside the box and into the image, you will notice that it is now an eyedropper tool

Click and drag and you will see a  little circle appear on the diagonal line of the curve. This is the tonal range of the area that you are moving the mouse over. Take a note of where the range is on the curve.


Click and drag on the curve. Move the point up and notice that the image will be lightened.


The adjustment layer has a layer mask applied, as can be seen in the layers palette. The region of the mask where the selection was previously visible is now white, as you can see.

To activate the mask (which ought to be active by default), click on it.


We’ll now make the light’s edge softer.

Select Gaussian blur under Filter > Blur.

Note: If you have Photoshop CS6 or later, applying a feather to the layer mask is preferable. To open the properties panel, double-click the layer mask. Select a portion of the mask’s feathers. The best choice is this one because you can always adjust the settings.


By now, the lighting effect ought to be rather appealing.

The last step is to take away the impact from any regions that would naturally be in shade or otherwise unlit. (like the air)

select the brush tool and make the foreground colour black.

Because you are painting on a mask, you can click and drag the paintbrush to remove the adjustment from the desired locations.


Finally, we have the outcome—a gentle spotlight shining on our car. To observe the difference, contrast this with the original image.

If you want to somewhat reduce the effect, you can decrease the adjustment layer’s opacity. This method can be applied to any type of image, including portraits. This is a fantastic method to highlight specific portions of photographs and put items in the, well, spotlight.

Check out Photoshop Secrets For Digital Photographers for more great tricks like these in an accessible video style.

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