Into the Light

In this tutorial we will be creating a boy walking into a glowing doorway. This is a really simple way to get a great looking light effect. Enjoy!

Step 1

First we are going to do some prep work. We are going to create a cloud brush in Photoshop that we are going to use to help enhance our fog that we are going to create. Lets get our clouds image from the free texture pack here. Once you download that, open up clouds_297.jpg in Photoshop.

Step 2

Lets go into image>mode and change it to grayscale. Now do an apple + I to get the inverse, and then do apple + L to pull up the layers and make the background (that used to be blue) white.

Step 3

Now we want to go in and just take the section that we want. First double click on the background layer and push ok. This will unlock the background layer. Use the lasso tool to go in and grab a section. Select the inverse of the selection with apple + shift + I, and delete. You can move your selection to the middle of your document so it will be easier to work with.

Step 4

We are going to make a mask so we can fade out the right side of the cloud that has the sharp edge. So click on the mask tool on your layers palette. Grab your brush tool, I’m using a 250px brush with the hardness at 0% and the opacity at 100% to start with.

Step 5

Follow the right edge with your brush so you have the edge faded. Now go in with the same brush at 20% and give it more of a cloud look by making out random spots on the left side until you get something you like.

Step 6

Now we are going to turn it into a brush. Using the marquee tool, make a box around the cloud image we have. Make sure you are clicked on the layer, not the mask, then go into edit>define brush preset and call it clouds. Now you have a cloud brush.

Step 7

The next thing we want to do is grab our person that we are going to put into the scene. You can close out of your clouds image and lets go get a person. Open up the image in Photoshop and start cutting away using the pen tool. Make sure you are using the the square with the arrow on it in the settings like I have.

Step 8

Now we are ready to create our document. Open up a document 1680×1050. Go back to the document with our boy on it and click on the paths tool on the layers palette and apple click on the work path to load the layer. Now go back to the layers and click and drag the boy to our new document.

Step 9

Lets go ahead and hide our boy layer, we aren’t going to need him for a little while. Fill the background with black. Now we want to make our doorway so we are going to do that with the square marquee tool, and make a door shaped square.

Step 10

Using the polygonal lasso tool we are going to make the glow coming from the doorway. I made points at each corner of the bottom of the door to the corners of the bottom of the document. Once you’ve made your shape, we are going to get our gradient tool and fill with a white gradient.

Step 11

Lets bring our boy back in so we can size him up to the door and get the angle of the glow right. Remember we want him walking into the doorway so his feet should be below it, and also it is a boy so he shouldn’t fill out the door.

Step 12

Now we want to make a shadow behind him, because he is blocking the glow, so we want to show that. We are going to make a shape similar to the glow but just behind him.

Step 13

We are going to blur all the glowing parts as well as the shadows, so go into filter>Gaussian blur and give it a blur of 4.7. There was a little black space on my glow between the doorway and the glow on the ground so I moved up the glow on the ground to fill the gap.

Step 14

We are going to use the lasso tool to make a random curvy shape like I have. Make sure your shape covers the whole door. Go to filter>Radial Blur and set it to the way I have it below. After, do a Gaussian blur of 3.0. This is going to become another glow around the door. Drop the opacity to 35%.

Step 15

Now lets grab a brick wall image (, so our doorway looks like it is on something. Open it up in Photoshop and do an apple + L to open up the levels and change it to something like what I have. Now bring it into our document.

Step 16

Resize the brick wall like I have done. Also it is a little tilted, so I am going to bring it back counter-clockwise a little bit. I am going to make the bottom straight, so by using the square marquee tool drag a square at the bottom of the wall, and then delete the selected area. Bring the layer above the doorway and below the boy’s shadow layer, and set the blend mode to overlay.

Step 17

So that we can see the bricks a little better, we are going to copy the doorway layer with apple + J and add a Gaussian blur of 100px. Drop the opacity to 40%.

Step 18

Now we need to add something for the ground. Cut out the cement part of the road and bring it into our document. Adjust the size so it fits in with the whole scene. Make sure you line up the top of the cement with the bottom of the door. You can use the square marquee tool to cut the extra. Change the blend mode to overlay.

Step 19

Create a new layer above the brick wall and the ground and fill it with blue. Change the opacity to 50% and the blend mode to multiply.

Step 20

Lets grab a brush. I’m using 150px at 0% hardness. Now go into your color palette and grab a random blue, paint a few strokes on a new layer, then grab a different blue and paint a few more strokes. Repeat this a few more times. We are doing this so we can get a more interesting glow. Change the blend mode to soft light.

Step 21

Now since the doorway is the brightest glow we are going to make it whitest in the middle of it. Create a new layer and get your square marquee tool, change the feather to 30px and fill it with white.

Step 22

I am going to add more glow and give a softer edge to the doorway glow on the ground, so get that layer and give it a Gaussian blur of 18px.

Step 23

That bright area of the doorway is going to reflect on the ground, so take that layer we just blurred and duplicate it with apple + J and hold down control and bring the edges in. Drag that layer over our blue layer and drop the opacity down to 80%.

Step 24

Make a copy of our doorway layer with apple + J and go in to filter>blur>radial blur and make your settings like how I have it below. This will give our doorway a little more glow on the brick wall.

Step 25

Create a new layer and make this the first layer. Now lets go in and add our fog. First get a blue around the same colors we have been using, grab a 100px paintbrush at 0% hardness and paint a little blotch like I have next the boy’s right leg.

Step 26

Go to filter>blur>motion blur and set it to 400px with an angle of 0. Now do an apple + J to duplicate that layer and place a few of the around his feet.

Step 27

Lets get our brush again and get a new layer. This time we are going to use the cloud brush that we created. Drop the size down to around 250px. Press F5 to get into the brush settings and change them to what I have. Now start putting some clouds in.

Step 28

Since they still look like they are clouds and not so much fog we are going to use are mask on the clouds layer. Your outcome should be something like I have below.

Step 29

Repeat steps 27 and 28, except use white to give it a little more texture. Drop the opacity to 60%.

Step 30

Now we are going to give the boy a contrast. So first we want to create a new layer above the boy layer. Now apple + click the boy layer and fill that selection with blue on the layer we just created. Give it a blend mode of soft light. Now apple J to duplicate it.

Step 31

Create a new layer above the boy and load the boy layer. Fill the new layer with the selected layer with black.

Step 32

Go into filter>blur>Gaussian blur and give the layer blur of 4.5px.

Step 33

Move the layer we just blurred down and to the left. Load the boy layer, do apple + shift + I to get the inverse and then delete that area.

Step 34

I want to go into the feet area and fill in some spots that shouldn’t have any light showing and also anywhere else that should still be shadowed. I am going to do this by using a regular brush with black.

Step 35

Finally I want to adjust the color a little, so I am going to go into hue/saturation.


On something like this, there is so much room to play around, so your won’t look exactly like mine and there are a lot of places to get creative. If you created your own version I’d love to see it by putting a link below.

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Only comments in English will be approved!


  1. This is absolutely stunning tutorial. Thanks.

  2. 25/02/2009


  3. david

    great idea!!!, thanks

  4. shimi israel

    amazing tutorial i will try it…thank you very much ^_^

  5. 27/02/2009
  6. wonderful work useful tut. thanks..

  7. 11/03/2009

    I like to walk in Light!
    can I GOD? :)

  8. 27/03/2009

    I can’t wait to try this out. Excellent tutorial, keep up the good work! Thanks for posting this.

  9. […] Into the Light […]

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  11. 09/05/2009

    A truly inspirational piece of photo retouching work. Thanks for this.

  12. […] Into the Light. This one looks really cool and I can’t wait to try this one. […]

  13. Saigee

    wow..this is really cool tut!!

  14. 05/08/2009

    Great tutorial…. mine turned out differently but i still liked the results

  15. […] 17. Entrada a la puerta iluminada […]

  16. msjay

    i can’t see the images from his site only the text.please help

  17. 30/06/2010

    The images should be back up now

  18. 03/09/2010

    thanks a lot, fantastic article, excellent site

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    Bonito blogue, apenas não estou de acordo com algumas coisas que aqui disseste embora no global até tens um bom ponto de vista!

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