Add a Spotlight with Photoshop

There are several different ways that you can create a spotlight photoshop effect using Photoshop. Based on the photo that you chose, you may want to add multiple spotlights to highlight several different subjects or use a single spotlight effect to bring attention to the main point of interest. The spotlight effect can be adjusted to create soft lighting detail for a subtle effect or can be made brighter to make the image more dramatic. You can even create additional layers with spotlighting effects to make your image more dimensional. This tutorial will show you the most basic way to create a spotlight effect using Photoshop.

Materials Needed

  • Photoshop editing software
  • Picture files

Step 1: Determining Spotlight Placement

Open the image to be used in Photoshop. Once the image is open, decide on one or more focal points. Use the lighting detail already found in the photograph to determine the best placement for the spotlights you will create. During this step, you can open additional layers of the same image to create more interest and give the image more depth. 

Step 2: Creating Spotlight Effect

If you have set multiple layers to the image, open the Layers palette and select the first layer where you want to apply the spotlight effect. In the Photoshop Filters menu, select Renders and then choose Lighting Effects. This will open a preview window where you will see your image and have the ability to choose from several different lighting options. Set the lighting style as Spotlight if it is not the default, and adjust the light handles to change the direction of the lighting and the default lighting source. Now, you will adjust the intensity accordingly. If you plan on placing several spotlights in the image, do not set the intensity too high. Creating too much intensity will create washed out areas in the image. 

Step 3: Placing the Spotlights

Now that you have your settings in place, drag the light icon into the preview window. You can move the icon around if you need to locate the correct placement. Once the icon is placed, adjust the light source and directions if needed. To copy the settings of the current spotlight, click on it and drag to palette to copy the settings. If you wanted to add color spotlights to your image, click on light type section and select the desired color swatch. You can choose a color from the default palette or click 'load a custom color' to select the color you want. You can have up to sixteen spotlights placed in each layer, but you do not want to overdo this effect. You can continue adding spotlights as needed to the layers created, and once you're done, merge the layers and save the image as a JPEG file (once you are satisfied with the appearance). You have now successfully created a spotlight using lighting effects in Photoshop.

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