Create sun rays in Photoshop
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Learn how to create sun rays in Photoshop using gradients and blend modes and make them look realistic with adjustments.


It’s quite easy to create sun rays in Photoshop and although there are many ways of doing it, in this tutorial I will show you how to create realistic rays of light using gradients.

Photo used in the tutorial

Create a new layer above your image and name it sun rays. With this new layer selected, add a Gradient layer because it will be easier later on when we have to spin the sun rays.

Create sun rays in Photoshop

Open the Gradient Editor and change the Gradient type  to Noise and increase the Roughness to 100%. With the LAB color mode you can get rid of the colors and only keep blacks and whites which is what we want.
Use the Random button to create random gradients and try to have more blacks than whites but as evenly distributed as possible.

Create sun rays in Photoshop

Change the gradient style to Angle and use the angle wheel to rotate the gradient and have the desired part of the rays where you want it. Change the layer’s blend mode to Screen to eliminate the black areas and keep the white ones. Place the sun rays where you want on your image.

Create light rays in photoshop

In order to create sun rays in photoshop non-destructively, we’ll convert this gradient layer into a smart object because we will apply some Gaussian Blur to soften the edges and we want to be able to change the amount of blur whenever we want.

Sun rays effect in Photoshop

For a more realistic effect use a Hue/Saturation adjustment and Curves or Levels clipped to the rays layer and give them a yellow tone and fade them using the curves/levels. Watch video bellow for more details.


How to create sun rays in Photoshop