Photoshop Effects: how to mimic studio lighting for stylish portraits

Photoshop Effects: how to mimic studio lighting for stylish portraits

Shooting in an actual studio isn’t a possibility for many of us. Thankfully, you can harness the power of different Photoshop effects to recreate the look of studio lighting to make your portraits more striking. Below we show you how it’s done in our latest Photoshop tutorial.

Photoshop Effects: how to mimic studio lighting for stylish portraits

By shooting your subject in a studio, you can control lighting with great precision and produce shots with a variety of dramatically different looks.

Key lights can add striking high-contrast shadows that bring out the details in the subject’s face, or these dramatic shadows can be made less extreme using a reflector or a fill light.

By adding coloured gels to the lights you can change the shot’s mood, and complement the lighting with a variety of textured backdrops.

However, studio photo shoots don’t come cheap, and if you return from the shoot and decide that the lighting wasn’t perfect after all, you may find the most convenient (and least expensive) solution is to explore what Photoshop effects you can use to recreate this look.

Our original image

Thanks to Photoshop’s extensive tools and commands, you don’t need access to studio set-ups to create or fix a studio-style portrait. Our start image has been lit from the side using an external off-camera flash.

In this Photoshop tutorial we’ll show you how to use Photoshop’s Lighting filter to mimic the effect of adding a reflector to the other side of our subject’s face to create more balanced lighting. You’ll discover how to use Adjustment Layers to add a wash of mood-changing colour to the model, similar to using a gel in the studio.

You’ll also learn how to use Layer Masks to turn a texture layer into a grungy backdrop. Plus you’ll recreate lens effects such as vignettes to darken the edges of the image, creating a mysterious-looking and stylish portrait.

Click here to get started


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  • Musei Constantin

    when i create background copy 2 and choose filters>render>lighting effects it just creates a new layer called light effects. why? -_-

  • Good work. I learned a lot from this.