Using Photoshop to create a neon effect and re-light a model to look as if they are colored and lit by the same neon.
In this video you will learn how to
Isolate a figure
Re-light a portrait
Recolor an image
Create a neon shape
Highlight and color the model
If you need help with isolation, check out the videos below:
Quick select basics: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mq3Jbv...
Refine Edge: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PPIKSd...
In this video we're going to create a neon effect we're gonna make it look as though there is a neon circle behind the model which is lighting the entire scene and to do that we're going to need to make a lot of lighting changes now the first thing I've done is I've duplicated my original layer I want to be able to manipulate the foreground model separate from the background so I'm going to name these layers differently background and figure now that I've done that I want to isolate this model so that I can light her separately from the background I'm going to do this using the quick select brush that is W on the shortcut key and I'm going to start painting in the figure of the model with the quick select brush now I'm changing the size as I go along so that my selection can be a little more accurate and you'll notice that sometimes the quick select brush works better than others sometimes it's going to go outside of the area you want it selected and you will have to use the option or Alt key to deselect that and sometimes it won't quite get the area you want but all I want at this phase is just to get a fairly accurate selection of the model and then I can go back and refine that which we absolutely will using the select and mask option that you see up at the top of all of your selection tools and it doesn't need to be perfect I'm gonna go back and refine all this I just want it to be fairly accurate to start with so that we have something good to work with as a base I'm just going to select a few of these gray areas over here by our hair and then the rest of the areas in between your body now we need to select and mask we can do that by going up here at the top and clicking the Select and mask option this is going to bring us into an entirely different dialog we're now inside the Select and mask tool and what we're gonna do is go to this tool here on the left you see second down this is the refine edge brush what the refine edge brush tries to do is to intelligently determine which areas you want selected in which you don't and it will help refine the selection you already made with the quick select tool it's great for hair it's great for difficult to isolate areas it doesn't always work the way you want but for the most part it is pure magic for hair and if you have never used the quick select brush or the refine and mask tools I have an entirely different tutorial that'll teach you how to use the quick select brush that might be worth watching if you find yourself getting a little confused here right now what I'm doing is I'm painting in around the hair and it's helping me determine the background from the foreground and isolate out her hair much quicker than I could do by hand today's gonna be a lot more forgiving and if you're doing this neon tutorial for the first time I'd encourage you don't spend a ton of time isolating until you get into the rest of it you may spend too much time on things that aren't going to be even apparent in the final I'm gonna check the smart radius and bring it up to 1 pixel and hit OK you'll notice that this now creates a selection around the model and while that selection is active on the figure layer I'm clicking the mask option at the bottom of my layers palette and that's going to create a mask so now you can see if I deactivate the background that you can see the isolation we've made with the figure if I turn off the figure layer you're gonna see the copy that's underneath it so it won't look any different but that's alright and the first thing I want to do is get a levels adjustment over my background layer so I can control it separate from the figure I'm gonna take the white input slider I'm just gonna drag it to the left so that my background is darkened while my figure stays light that's a good start now I'm. Going to add another levels adjustment over my figure layer and again drag the white input so to darken down the figure now I'm going to hit command option G or ctrl alt G and create a clipping mask out of this levels layer and what it's doing is it's confining that levels adjustment to only affect the layer below it and you can tell that by the little arrow on that layer pointing down to the layer below it I'm gonna go in here and I'm going to choose a solid color and I want this color to be the color that I'm ultimately going to make my neon it's gonna make it a blue in this case I'm gonna set my blend mode to soft light and I'm gonna add one more levels adjustment on top of that and pull that white input down now we have a really dark image and this is a great place to start adding light since our lights going to be neon we need to decide what shape our light will be in this case I want it to be circular so I'm going to go to you on the shortcut key and I'm going to get my ellipse tool now I'm going to create a layer on top of all the other layers with this ellipse I'm gonna make sure that it is selected as shape and the top left and the options I want the stroke to be white now I think I want this ellipse to be a little thicker than it is right now I want it to look like a neon tube it's a bit thicker so I'm gonna drag the stroke size up until I get it to a size that I feel like fits my idea now I need to start nee awning it and the way we're gonna do that is by right-clicking on the ellipse layer and selecting blending options in the blending options I'm gonna make several changes and this is going to provide the neon look we want the first thing I'm gonna do is I'm going to click inner shadow now even though it says inner shadow in this case I'm not going to really use it for shadowing so much as coloring I'm gonna get closer in so I can see how this looks go back to my blend options choose inner shadow then I need to choose a color that I like and in this case I want it to be similar to the neon that I've already made the background so I've got me a blue going on here I have my distance all the way down have my size I'm gonna bring that up just a little bit until I leave a little rim of white in the middle of my neon tube and you'll notice that since our distance has been changed the angle doesn't matter at all but the contour will and I'm going to set it to this first option of contour just see what that looks like you can play around with various contours to see what effects you prefer I like the second in this case so I'm gonna leave it and now I'm going to create a second inner shadow now I'm doing this to build up more variation and a little more gradation in the color so with this I'm going to bring it very similarly down I'm going to pick a similar blue but I'm going to have this one set to multiply and I'm going to make the size slightly different so this blue isn't exactly the same blue and it'll help it just look as though there's a bit of a color shift I've also changed the contour and now we're starting to get a nice lush neon look now let's add a outer glow now I'm.
Going to choose a blue again which goes with the neon color that I want I'm gonna leave you a pasty all the way up on the technique I'm going to put it to softer and I'm just going to tweak the size a little more and make sure that the contour looks as good as possible experiment with the contour and see which one you feel like best suits your needs and then once you have that determined play with the range and get what you want now notice I added just a little bit of noise so it doesn't look too perfect that way it looks a little more organic as if it were actually shot in the photograph so now I'm going to add a drop shadow I'm gonna set that to screen and again what I'm doing is just kind of layering up the effect I'm gonna choose a blue similar to what we've done in all these other effects and then I'm gonna bring the size down to whatever I feel like looks good now this is going to be like a big glow I want this to be less opacity and a little more external. Glowy we have a good start this looks neon but we need to make it look like it's lighting her up also we need to make it look like it's behind her so what I'm gonna do is go down to the layer mask which I created earlier on my figure I've already done all this work masking it out so what I can do is use command or control clicking the mask on the figure layer and that's going to load up the selection that I already made earlier with my click select brush and now I can apply that directly to my neon layer by selecting that layer with the ellipse on it and then just going down to the bottom of the layers palette and clicking on the layer mask button and bam yeah you'll notice that. This isn't maybe ideal because what it does automatically is apply the exact same layer mask that we had on the figure and actually what we want is to invert that mask so it's the opposite so with that mask still selected on ellipse one layer that I have here I'm going to hit command or control I and then that's just going to invert that mask now we do have a little bit of a problem here you'll notice if i zoom in here you see how that on the edges the effects that we've created are stopping at the layer mask and they're looking inconsistent so we want these to continue on through behind the model as if they're unbroken and the way that we can make that happen is just go back into our blending mode and then check this little box called layer mask hides effects and when I click that now I've got what I want now all the effects appear to go behind the model rather than terminating at her side which is perfect all right now let's start lighting the model I'm grabbing this diamond-shaped gradient and I'm gonna drag it out from the center of the face on the color layer and what I'm trying to do here is I want it to look as though we maybe we had an off-camera flash that was pointed at her face so her face gives a little more skin tone than the rest of her body which is being lit by this blue neon I still want to see a little skin tone in the face and I'm gonna do the same on the levels and the color adjustment layer but now I want to add some highlights and one of the ways I can do that is I'm going to go into my channels palette and I generally use the blue channel for this just because skin is reddish orange and the blue Channel gives me some contrast there so what you do is then just drag it down to new layer and you can create a new layer with it now what I'm going to do is use a levels adjustment - just ramp up the contrast to that blue channel now I'm not going to actually use this channel in my image I'm just using it as sort of contrast map which I'm going to load as a selection so now I have this high contrast version of the blue channel and I can ctrl or command click on that and what it's going to do is it's going to load up all of the white or light colored areas as a selection and then the black is going to be ignored so now that I've loaded that up I'm gonna turn my RGB channels back on and just deactivate that blue Channel I was just tweaking but you'll notice I still have the selection active so now I'm gonna go back over to layers I'm gonna make all my layers visible again and you'll see this selection is there so now I'm going to take this levels the levels that I had directly over the figure I'm now going to paint on with this selection active and highlight only the areas that are currently selected now I'm using a soft edge brush here and I'm using an opacity of about 10% and that's just so I can get a little more subtle look here so there's nuance to it and it's not just bright bright white because I want to build up this lighting effect so I'm just painting it little by little altering the size of my brush as I go along and I'm just bringing up some.
Highlights only in the areas where the selection is active so all the other areas are going to be ignored what this does I found is it adds some contrast to the image but it also makes it the lighting that I'm trying to paint on look a little more natural because it's following what the actual contours of the original shot were and even though the original shot was shot and lit much differently at least it still looks a little more it looks a little more true to the form of the model I'm gonna continue to build up these lighting effects I'm gonna try to get them just the way I want them but I really want to take some time to make them authentic I want to think about where is this neon behind her and how can I make it look like it's actually affecting her in the image oftentimes I'll experiment with this I'll tweak it back and forth I may decide I want more or less just paint to your taste using your black and white foreign background colors interchangeably until you get about the consistency that you want on your model now I'm going to create an entirely new layer above my model I'm going to call it highlights I'm going to select that mask again just like we did when we were masking out the neon behind the model and I'm going to mask out this highlights layer so that everything I paint will be only on the figure and with a white foreground brush I'm gonna start brushing in with a pretty low opacity about 10% right now I'm gonna start brushing in some white highlights what I want here is to create the illusion that there are some parts of her body that are closer to the neon than others therefore they should be lit a little more brightly and also where we're giving the appearance that she's being lit from behind so we really should have some some side lighting and some rim lighting here and we just have to create that because that wasn't there in the original image but we can create that illusion now that we've darkened her down enough just by adding back in highlights in the appropriate places I'm gonna find these little areas by the hip and leg that are close to the neon and just give this appearance that there's light hitting it I suggest you do this with a low opacity brush if you overdo this it looks cheesy and it doesn't look very realistic so better to go over it a couple of times and low opacity than to just hit it hard with a high opacity brush and it look unbelievable so I'm building this up stroke by stroke going back over it little by little you can really spend as much time as you want doing this I'm going to go ahead and skip through this a bit because it gets too but take your time and make it look as convincing as you feel like you need to okay now continuing with our highlighting I'm gonna add a curves level above my figure I'm going to create a clipping mask with ctrl alt or command option G and now I'm gonna pull that curves up very very high higher. Than I think it actually looks good I'm gonna tweak the blue a little bit too to see if I can add some blue color into this curves adjustment layer and I'll show you why in just a minute so I'm just playing with the color here to see what I like probably going to end up only changing the blue and the red but I want the blue to at least mostly match the neon blue we have behind so this is.
Looking good alright so now this curves adjustment level is a lot brighter than we want we're just going to knock this down by completely masking it out you do that by filling the mask with black in this case since black is already by background color I can just use command backspace or command delete and fill it with black now we're gonna paint it back in using a white brush same way that we were doing the highlights we're just gonna use this white brush on a 10% opacity sort of paint up and down and around the figure this is adding not only a bit of lightening but it's also adding some color to the highlights because neon is.
Kind of a finicky light I don't want all the coloration to be too perfect I want it to look like it has a bit of color shift and I just I wanted to have some imperfections so it looks a bit more organic now let's create a layer above all of that in this one we're gonna create some cool ambient effects so we're going to get our same blue we're gonna set our opacity down low to about 4% and we're just going to paint with a very very low opacity over the entire scene and what's that's doing is it's creating a sort of haze effect I'm even gonna concentrate it in around the neon so that it looks like there's there's almost a haze or a smoke in the room if I turn it on and off you can see the difference and I really like the effect this is creating I am gonna mask some of it out especially around the face because I really want to highlight the face in the eyes and I want to draw attention there when the viewers looking at it so I'm gonna mask out some of that haze just where the face is I'm also.
Going to paint on to our original bottom levels adjustment layer what I want to do is create the illusion that there are certain areas of the image that are lighter due to the light shining on it so I'm gonna create a glow down behind her just to solidify this illusion that the floating sphere of neon is behind our model I'm gonna blur that out using the gauzy and blur tool to just make it look a little more clean and and less painted and then I'm going to continue to give some highlights to the background as well as if it's also receiving some of the light from this neon I think this gives the image more.
Character and even though these are subtle touches that you may feel like you don't really need to go through I feel like it adds an extra level of realism that even if the viewer doesn't notice it I think overall the effect of the image is benefited by it so let's continue to add some highlights to the body I feel like if the floor is getting some of the lighting then the model should also be catching a little bit of rim light down there so I'm gonna go ahead and add some lighting to the legs just slight lighting that's gonna decrease the further down the body we go but I really want this illusion that there's a bright light right behind her that's affecting the contour of the body this also helps with shape so when you look at the image it helps the model pop out from the overall image and from the dark background and you can paint this with white or you can get a blue painted personally I like doing a variety of it so I'm just resampling the colors over and over again and then continuing to layer it up with a low opacity this just makes the effect a little more varied I like detail again.
Some of this you may choose to do it a lot more simply your first time through but I want to show you what's possible if you really want to make it look very authentic now we're going to create an another curves adjustment I still want to add a little more contrast and brighten the model up a bit so I'm going to add a curves adjustment on top of just the figure I consistently turn my.
Layers on and off to see what I like and what I don't sometimes I'll find that I've spent a lot of time applying an effect and then when I remove it I actually like it better without so I continually deactivate my layers visibility and just see what I can change to make it look better so here I'm continuing to lighten up the face by masking out the levels adjustments and I'm going to target the eyes and I especially want those bright the eyes and the lips those are focal points when you're looking at a face so I'm taking a black brush with a low opacity right now and painting out those dark levels adjustments we put on it earlier and just making the face even brighter I also want to do that with the jewelry on the chest and a little bit of the hair just bring up some of the light really directing the viewers eye towards the models face at this point we've done. A good job we've gotten the light to a really good place we're gonna do a few finishing touches that are going to I think tighten up the overall composition and make the lighting even better but you could probably stop here and have a good image let's add another curves adjustment level over the top of all this and on this curves adjustment layer what I really want to do is clip the blacks just slightly now I like clipping the blacks a little bit because I feel like it brings focus to the face it also gives it an almost film ish appearance and especially for this where we want the illusion of haze in the image I like that the clipping of the blacks is giving a sort of hazy appearance if you still want to mess with it I mean I could stop here I like this the blue neon looks pretty cool but there's something really simple you can do to play with this overtop and I found this kind of fun and that is to just adjust the colors of your neon so we've worked with one color this entire time which is this blue tint but let's say we wanted to have a different color or even more than one color an easy way to adjust this and give kind of an interesting look I think overall to your image add a hue/saturation layer above all of your other layers once you do that just grab your hue and drag it around you'll get some really interesting effects and once you do stop on an effect you like turn it on and off see what you think of it and then mask it out so what I'm gonna do is I'm just going to click option delete or alt backspace I'm gonna fill it with black and then I'm gonna paint in with an opacity of 50% and a soft edge brush and you'll see what I'm doing here is I'm changing the hue but only in certain areas of the image so what I want really is so it looks like that half of this neon is pink and half of it is blue and I just find this kind of intriguing it's fun and this little color shift is super easy to do I am gonna mask it out on the face though because the face was actually natural colors and if that hue/saturation adjustment gets on the face make it look a little weird you can take these same neon effects and experiment with them in endless ways and I'd be really interested to see what you come up with using this neon effect because you could do the same thing using text for example just apply these same effects to text and put that over an image you can make all kinds of shapes with this you really have a lot of fun with this neon effect so I would love to see what you've created comment down below go and follow me on instagram at joseph brewster and hashtag me or tag me in your creations I'd really love to see what you come up with enjoy this go create and have fun and I'll see you back here next time