Photoshop tutorials for professionals and beginners
Create colorful light orbs in Photoshop

How to Create Cool Light Effects in Photoshop

This tutorial is maybe another proof that I’m a light and color effects freak, I like them very much. So, In this tutorial I’ll show you more light and layer styles effects. You don’t need any special brushes for this tutorial. Everything is done using a few stock images and a few techniques already used on my previous tutorials.

This is an advanced tutorial and you should know how to create a custom brush and how to apply layer styles. Other than that, it’s not a very complicated tutorial.

What I wanted to create was a sort of wizard that throws colored energy balls so I created some stock images and started to work.


Create colorful light orbs and special effects in Photoshop

Materials needed



Step 1

Open your model stock in Photoshop. You will not need to subtract it from it’s background unless you want to add something that requires that. The first thing I did was to make some general adjustments to the image using Adjustment Layers. I added the default purple-orange Gradient Map, set its Blend Mode to Linear Dodge (Add) and Opacity 10%. Then I increased the Saturation to 25 on a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer.

Step 2

I started by making a light ball. For that I used a stock photo made by myself. So open powerball.jpg scale it down and increase the Saturation. Change the blend mode to Screen so that you hide the black background. Once you have the stock image ready, get a big soft brush and paint two big dots and change the blend mode to Overlay. I used yellow and blue to match the colors of the stock image.

Step 3

At this point this doesn’t really look very good so I added some more details. Create the glow of the ball using a big soft brush and an orange color. I changed the blend mode to Pin Light and reduced the Opacity to 50%. This is very important because if you don’t create this, the Outerglow of the little dots shown on the next image will not be visible or will not look right.

Keep in mind that depending on the colors of your stock image, you might have to use different blend modes. Blend modes work differently depending on the colors and illumination. The dots are made using a custom scattered brush and with the Noise option activated. The blend mode of the outer glow is Color Dodge.

As you see on the powerball dots layer, the nice outerglow around the small dots is visible because of the big orange glow light.

In order to give more consistence and shape to this ball, I made some lines using the Pen Tool (P). I took a 2 pixels hard brush then I traced some arc paths and stoke those paths with the brush using the Simulate Pressure option. After creating 5 or 6 curved lines, you can duplicate them and rotate them, nobody will notice they are duplicated.

After making the lines, merge them all in one layer if you made them on separate layers and apply Outerglow. Again keep in mind the size and colors of your image may affect the final result so you might need to use different settings than on this tutorial.

Step 5

After making the first power ball I started adding some colors on the body using brushes and stock images. Open color-waves.jpg and paste it over the model. Scale it if necessary and change the Blend Mode to Screen. Create a layer mask and mask the upper part. See image below.

Add more colors on a new layer using a big soft brush and Overlay or Screen Blend Mode.

Step 6

Now I will show you how I made those 3D glassy squares and circles. Get the square brush and in the preset editor activate Scatter but do not add too much, about half way and increase Angle Jitter. Also increase Size Jitter to maximum and set Control to Fade if you don’t have a tablet. The Fade amount depends on the distance at which you want your pixels to become small.

Start with the brush on the left foot and make a long stroke towards the right hand. Adjust the Fade amount until the squares get smaller as you get closer to the hand. If the squares are too close together, increase the Spacing not the Scattering.

Set layer Blend Mode of the squares layer to Overlay and add the following layer effects. Try different colors and blend modes to get different results.

The 3D circles  are made the same way. I created some random size circles and reduced the Fill to 16%. Actually I copied the same FX from the squares layer and I changed some blend modes and colors and the Outer Glow settings. I will hide these 3D circles on the next steps so that you can see the other effects better.

Step 7

Open color-lines.jpg and place it over the left foot and change Blend Mode to Screen. As you can see, I’m using a technique that I already used on previous tutorials. Change the Hue if you want and increase the Saturation.

I created some paths with the Pen Tool (p) and then I used a 2px hard brush to stroke the path. This is the layer style applied to the lines.

Still working on the left foot, get a soft brush set the Brush Opacity to 43%  and paint two spots using the colors: c2839f and bac93c and change the Blend Mode to Vivid Light.

Step 8

Create two or three 45º selections with the Polygonal Lasso Tool. Press the Shift key while you make the selection in order to create 45º angle selections. Then use a big soft brush and paint along the edge of the selection and create something like in the image below. After you did that change the Blend Mode of the layer to Overlay or Soft Light.

Step 9

Open fractals.jpg and place it over the model then go to Filter>Pixelate>Mosaic. I used 30 pixels as cell size because I’m working with a high resolution picture but you can use a size that’s suitable for your picture. Try to keep some detail.  After that, I increased the Saturation and changed the Blend Mode to Color Dodge. You can also try changing the Hue to see what color combinations you can get.

Step 10

I noticed that the right side of the picture is too empty so I added some colors too. I used the squares brushes and created a few random squares not to far away from each other and I applied a 45º Motion Blur. Then, in order to add the colors I used the layer styles. I used the following style. For a stronger effect duplicate the layer.

So, after duplicating the layer to obtain a stronger color, I also added some soft dots using a scattered brush. These dots have an Outer Glow with Color Dodge Blend Mode.

Using a big soft brush and blue color I added a big light on the right leg. The Blend Mode used is Linear Dodge (Add).

Step 11

I made a second light ball on the other hand and again I used several stock images made by myself. Open supernova.jpg, increase saturation, scale the image, place it over the hand and change the Blend Mode to Screen.

In order to recreate the light produced by the ball, I took a soft brush about 800 px (because I worked with a hi-res stock image) and I made a big reddish orange soft spotlight. I used Linear Dodge (Add).

Use a scattered brush to add some particles to this ball like you did a few steps ago on the right hand. Add some Outer Glow with default color and Blend Mode Color Dodge.

Lastly, I created a tail to this ball using another light stock image. Open trail.jpg place it over the light ball and change the Blend Mode to Screen.

One more stock image to enhance the ball shape. This time I used shatters.jpg

That’s all. You can add more things if you want but it would look too crowded. So as you’ve seen I used pretty much the same techniques as in other tutorials.

As I said keep in mind the stock image you are using as Blend Modes work differently depending on the colors and contrast. Also remember that I used a high resolution stock so the dimensions of brushes and layer style settings might not work the same if you use a low res image. That being said, I hope you liked this tutorial. Below you have the Preview image and PSD download link.

Final result


Andrei Oprinca

I've been creating Photoshop tutorials since 2009 for beginners and advanced users. I'm a self-taught Photoshop artist and like teaching other how to improve their skills. I love design and graphic communication.

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