Sunlight How-To

This tutorial will show you how I use some of the overlays from my “Light Set.” This tutorial looks long but that’s just because I want to go over every single step. As soon as you’ve done it one time, you’ll realize how easy these overlays are to use.  For purposes of this tutorial, I am using Photoshop CS3 in the default view. 

First I’m going to start by opening the picture that I want to apply the overlay to. In this case, it’s of a little girl near a church.  So, just open it in Photoshop. 


I’ve chosen to apply two overlays from my Light set – Sunlight (left) and Sun Shower (left), so let’s go ahead and open both of those at the same time, but return to the picture of just the little girl.


Now, go first to your Sun Shower overlay, and choose Select/All.   A little squiggly line will appear around it once it’s selected.


Now, you’re going to copy the layer by choosing Edit/Copy.


Now, you’re going to paste the overlay on top of the original picture of the little girl.   To do that, just go to Edit/Paste.


It may look funny at first because it only covers part of the picture.  So, you’ll want to stretch the overlay out to cover more of the picture.   To do that, go to Edit/Free transform.


Now, using your mouse, stretch the overlay to cover the entire picture by pulling the little squares in each corner around and fitting it to your liking.


Once you get it where you want it, press Enter.   I often stretch the overlay beyond the boundaries of the picture so I can get the light to fall exactly where I want it.  Note: the overlay does NOT have to be perfectly fitted over the picture.

Now, I want to erase a little bit of the overlay off of her face so it looks more natural. To do this, I’ll choose my eraser tool, and choose a soft “brush” set to about 50-60% opacity. Then, just erase over her face to your liking.


This is what it looks like after I’ve erased the overlay a little bit.


Now, I’m going to repeat the exact same process, only this time I’m going to use the Sunlight overlay. So, open the Sunlight overlay, select it (select/all) copy it (Edit/Copy), and paste it onto your picture just like you did with the Sun Shower overlay (Edit/Paste).  Then transform it to fit over the picture so it looks good  (Edit/Free Transform). 

This time though, I chose to stretch the overlay way out extending over the edges of the picture, because I just wanted a subtle little touch of variant light.


Once you’ve got the overlay where you want it, hit Enter.

Then, use the same technique to erase the overlay over her face again.


**** The following steps are optional, but I typically do them because it helps achieve a more natural look.  Also, if you do these things, you’ll achieve a much more flattering look when your product is printed.

I often adjust the opacity, hue, and saturation on each overlay for a more natural look.   To adjust opacity, just go to your layers palette and use the slider to lower the opacity from 100% to around 80% or wherever you think it would look the most natural. 


You can also adjust your overlay’s hue & saturation for an even more natural look.  To do this, go to Image/Adjustments/Hue Saturation and play around with the sliders.



In this instance, I adjusted the hue, saturation & lightness of layer 2 which was my “Sunlight” overlay.  The exact adjustments I chose can be seen below.


Now, just flatten your image, and you’re done!


One more thing…..this part is optional, but I think it gives each picture an added depth. I typically do a light “burn” over my subject before finishing. To do this, you’ll just select the burn tool, set to shadows at about a 50% exposure, and with one big swoop, go over your subjects face and body a little bit.


Now, fade your burn tool back to about 11% by going to Edit/Fade Burn Tool.



Voilla! You’re done! I typically sharpen using a sharpening action before printing.

After doing this tutorial once or twice, you’ll probably want to use the following shortcuts for copying, pasting, and free transform:

To copy:  Hold down Ctrl & C at the same time (Command & C for Mac)

To paste:  Hold downCtrl & V at the same time (Command & V for Mac)

To Free Transform:   Hold down Ctrl & T at the same time (Command & T for Mac)

I hope this tutorial was helpful!

Your email is never published or shared. Required fields are marked *