How to Create a Soft Glow Photoshop Effect

A soft glow Photoshop effect is actually very easy to create. This effect can be used to make photos look special and more interesting. The same effect can also be used to create fantasy photographs which look unique and are not things that you could normally create just by taking a photo.

When creating a soft glow effect in Photoshop, you will actually find the whole process very simple. The effect is also very realistic and a great way to make your photos even more special.

Tools and Materials Needed

  • Photoshop
  • Digital Image

Step 1: Opening the Photo

First, you need to load Photoshop and open your photo. Do this by selecting Photoshop from the start menu and then clicking File, Open to select your file. Alternatively, you could set up Photoshop to be the default editor for image files, which would make it possible to simply double click an image file and have it load automatically in Photoshop.

Step 2: Duplicating the Layer

Once your image has loaded, you will see that it has a single layer which will be named background as default. This layer can be renamed if you want to make it something more memorable.

The layer then needs to be duplicated by pressing Control (CTRL) and J together. This will be called Layer 1, although you might want to rename the layer "glow" so that it's easy to remember exactly what it is.

Step 3: Applying Filters

Next, you need to apply filters to the layer to soften the photo. This effect is known as a Guassian Blur. Select the Filter Menu, then Choose Blur and Guassian Blur. Then select a 3 pixel blur.

Reset the color palette to the default colors of black for the foreground and white as the background. Now apply another filter called diffuse glow. To do this, click the filter menu, choose distort and then select diffuse glow. The glow and clear value should be set to 18, set opacity to 60% and grain to 0.

Step 4: Flattening Your Image

Once these filters have been applied, it's then time to flatten the image by merging the layers. The easiest way of doing this is to press Control (CTRL) and E.

Step 5: Applying More Filters

Select Filter then choose Sharpen and click Unsharp Mask. Set the amount to 500%, Radius to 0.2 pixels and Threshold levels to 0.

This filter will probably need to be applied several times to get the best effect. Press Control and F to repeat the filter. If you made a mistake and prefer how it looked before, then press Control and Z to undo the filter.

Step 6: Creating a New Layer

Create another new layer by pressing Control and J again. This layer should be renamed as light.

Step 7: Selecting Light

With the Light layer selected, use the polygonal lasso tool to select areas where you want the glow effect to be concentrated. Then use the radial gradient tool with the foreground color set as white. Drag this from the top to the bottom.

Step 8: Blur

Blur the light layer by using the Guassian Blur filter. Click on Filter, Blur and choose Guassian Blur. Then set the value to 60.

Step 9: Reducing Opacity

Reduce the opacity of the light layer to 50% so that you can see the entire original image through the top layer.

Step 10: Finishing Touches

Now all you need to do is flatten the image by pressing Control and E. This will create a single image file, which is then ready for publishing on the Internet or printing out.


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