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Photoshop Tutorial - Light Wrap

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Here’s a technique you can use next time you’re creating an image in Photoshop that has a lot of sky or is otherwise has bright areas in the background. These kinds of images often look fake or unfinished because people don’t consider backlight ‘wrapping’ around their foreground image. Fortunately it’s easy to simulate a light wrap in Photoshop in a few easy steps.

1. This is really a finishing technique - in this image I’ve already masked the subject and adjusted the tones and colours to match with the background. I’ve selected all of the foreground layers and grouped them.

 light wraps 2 resized

2. I’ll need a merged copy of all the background layers. To do this, I’ll switch the visibility for the foreground off, and press [Command + Option + Shift + E] (Mac) or [Control + Alt + Shift + E] (PC) to create a stamp of the background layers. I’ll name this layer ‘Light Wrap’ and put it directly above the foreground.

 light wraps 3

3. Blur out this new light wrap layer by choosing Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur. Now try changing the blending mode of this layer - I’ve found Soft Light and Hard Light work best depending on the scene.

 light wraps 4 resized

light wraps 5 resized

4. Right click on this layer and choose ‘Create Clipping Mask’ to clip the layer exclusively to the foreground.

light wraps 6

5. Next use a soft eraser to remove the ‘core’ of the light wrap, as well as any other areas where light wouldn’t be spilling, such as below the horizon.

light wraps 7 resized

6. The light wrap can be dialed to taste by lowering the opacity or blurring it out further.

lightwrap finished

This technique can also be applied to text in a graphic design work, or on in a digital painting.


Stock image by Faestock - faestock.deviantart.com


  • Vicky
    30/05/2016 5:13am (6 years ago)

    Thank you! That is a great tutorial. It would be great if there was a link on your site to tutorials as a resource bank. I would direct students there, and use them myself. And that would be a great way to increase your profile amongst arts students and teachers, as a future option choice for students.