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.
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.
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.
4. Right click on this layer and choose ‘Create Clipping Mask’ to clip the layer exclusively to the foreground.
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.
6. The light wrap can be dialed to taste by lowering the opacity or blurring it out further.
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