How to Make a Photoshop Darklight Photo Manipulation

One of the more striking techniques that you can achieve using Photoshop to digitally manipulate an image file is the darklight effect. By applying this darklight technique to your image files, you will be able to create an artistically rendered image that accentuates the areas of darkness and lightness in your image, in order to highlight the main subject of your photograph. By following the tutorial below, you will be able to create this effect yourself. With a little patience and attention to detail, you will be well on your way to creating the darklight effect yourself in Photoshop.

Tools and Materials Needed

  • Computer
  • Adobe Photoshop
  • Digital Image File

Step 1: Open Photoshop and Load Image

First, you will need to open your copy of Adobe Photoshop and open a digital image file by clicking on "File > Open" and selecting an image file. It is typically a good idea for the purposes of this effect to start with an image that already has distinct areas of dark and light, such as an image incorporating the use of shadows.

Step 2: Duplicate Layer

Next, you will need to duplicate the image layer by clicking on "Layer > Duplicate Layer." When asked to create a new layer, click "OK."

Step 3: Apply Gaussian Blur

Apply the gaussian blur effect to the layer you have just created by clicking on "Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur." Your goal here is to create a very slight blur on the image, so set the radius of blur to somewhere around 1.5.

Step 4: Convert to Black and White

Convert your image to black and white by clicking on "Image > Adjustments > Desaturate." This will remove all color from your image. Alternatively, you can hit Ctrl+Shift+U to create the same effect.

Step 5: Adjust Blending Properties

Now it is time to adjust the blending properties of the layer you have been working with. To do this, look for the blending options menu in the layer palette on the bottom right of your screen. Set the blending options to "Multiply."

Step 6: Merge Layers

Next, merge the layers together by clicking "Layer > Merge Visible."

Step 7: Use Dodge and Burn Tools

Next, you will want to selectively darken and lighten individual portions of the image you have created. Use the dodge tool around the outside of the focus of your image--usually the face of your subject. After doing this, use the burn tool to slightly darken the area around your subject's eyes.

Step 8: Duplicate Layer

Duplicate this layer by using the same technique described in Step 2 above.

Step 9: Desaturate Layer and Set to Lighten

Use the same technique described in Step 4 above to desaturate your new layer. After doing this, adjust the blending properties of this layer to "Lighten."

Step 10: Adjust Brightness and Contrast

In your layers palette, you should see an icon for a circle that is half black and half white; click on this button. Navigate to the menu option for "Brightness/Contrast" and adjust the Brightness to -12 and the contrast to +11.

Step 11: Adjust Curves

Using the same menu button, go to "Curves" and set the output value to 126 and the input value to 141

Step 12: Adjust Levels

Finally, set the input levels to 0, 1.15 and 238, respectively, and the output levels to 0 and 255 respectively.


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