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Dramatic lights SFX in postwork

Author: SaraC

Tools Needed

  • Paint Shop Pro
  • Photoshop


Create simple and dramatic postworked lighting effects using basic tools in Paint Shop Pro.


Step 1 - Duplicate the layer

The final image we're aiming for is shown above. It's titled ONE SHOT and uses Steph Petite, SanctumArt's RDL7 set from DAZ, and an image of the Horsehead nebula for the background. For a comparison of the original and final image, see Step 8.

This tutorial adds the visible spotlight to the girl, as well as the lights shining up from the holes in the floor.

I'm using Paint Shop Pro7. Other versions of Paint Shop Pro and Photoshop have similar capabilities.

Before you start, duplicate the layer (Layers / Duplicate) and work on the top layer only. This is important because later we'll need to re-use part of the original image underneath.

Step 2 - Set darkness level


Go to Effects / Illumination effects / Lights.

This dialog box enables you to set up to five lights on your scene. If you have any previous settings, get rid of them by moving all the white dots over to one side and turn them off by unchecking the 'On' box. Use the zoom buttons between the image boxes to zoom out if you can't find the dots. Sometimes they wander!

First we need to set the Darkness level. I'm using a mid value of 35 since the image is already quite dark.

Step 3 - Set the first light


Now for the lights. You work in the image on the left, while the image on the right gives an instant preview. Each time you click the eye, your main image also updates. If you click the down-arrow beside the eye, it locks it so that the main image will automatically update each time you make a change.

To set the first light over the girl, drag one of the lights onto the image in the left box and zoom in. Check the 'On' box. Watch the preview on the right as you adjust the position of the light and the following parameters:

- Drag the crosshairs on either side to make the cone size narrower or wider.

- Drag the circled crosshair (longer or shorter) to change the focus of the light. Although I've positioned the white dot on the image, the focus is long enough that the origin of the light is off the picture, which is what I want.

- Click on the color to bring up the color palette. I want a dramatic light so I've used a pale colour.

- Adjust the intensity of the light by typing a number into the Intensity box or using the up/down arrows for fine-tuning. Again I've used a high number for a dramatic light.

Step 4 - Set a floor light


If you click OK now, you won't be able to set more lights. You have to set them all in one go.

Drag a second white dot over the floor at the lower right and adjust its shape and colour. For this light I'm using a narrower cone and longer focus.

Step 5 - Zoom of floor light


Note that the narrow cone I've chosen has given a pointed base to the light cone, which is narrower than the hole it's emerging from. I've positioned the light below the level it should be. The light below the red arrow is going to be removed later.

Step 6 - Set the other lights


Here I've set the other two lights. As with the first light, I've placed the pointed base of the second light cone lower than it should be so it looks like it's emerging from the full width of the hole.

The third light is slightly further back in the image and overlaps the second one, so I've used a lower intensity of 10. Otherwise the lights add together where they overlap, and are too strong.

Once you have all the lights set, click OK.

Step 7 - Fix the light cone bases


Time to fix the bases of the cones. Make sure your top layer is selected.

Using the freehand selection tool with a feather of 2, select an area that includes the parts you want removed.


Hit delete. The top layer is removed and the orignal layer now shows through in the selected area. Right-click to deselect. Merge the layers (Layers / Merge / Merge All).

Step 8 - Final image


Here are the original and final image side by side.

Step 9 - Another example


Here's another example of using dramatic lights as special effects on your image. This image is called SO FAR AWAY.