How to add a quick sun-flare or lighting effect onto your image using Photoshop Mix

Shooting into the sun can create a beautiful and artistic flare effect but it can be difficult to control. Alternatively you can add in the same effect to your image after you’ve taken it right from your smartphone in a couple simple steps.

There are lots of different apps and tools to add overlays onto your image but you are limited to whatever image files they supply or you may need to spend money buying add on packs. If you want to let your creativity run wild, our app of choice for enhancing your image is Photoshop Mix. This is a fantastic free tool that has great blending modes which allow you to easily add lighting effects onto your image in a natural way. Combined with the ample free png files you can find online the possibilities are endless.

In this tutorial we will be focusing on simple lighting effects, these could be a sun or lens flare, a light leak or any type of lighting effect you would like to experiment with. The key here is finding the right combination of images and selecting a blending mode to melt the effect onto your image in a realistic manner.

Ready to add some sunshine? Let’s go!

Step 1 - Choose your image and think about what type of lighting you would like to add. Is it a sunny day and could use a sun-flare? Do you want a coloured gradient or light leak?

Select your image making sure that the scene suits the type of lighting effect you’d like to add.

Select your image making sure that the scene suits the type of lighting effect you’d like to add.

Step 2 - Source or create your added sunshine or lighting effect. For this tutorial I searched ‘lens flare’ on pngtree.com and found this image which I downloaded onto my phone. A png file is an image that usually has a transparent background suitable for layering onto another image.

Step 3 - Open your original photo in Photoshop mix and tap the ‘+’ symbol to add a new layer

Step 4 - Select your chosen png file to add it onto the new layer and use your fingertips to adjust the size and position of it on your photo.

A free sun flare png file

A free sun flare png file

Add your chosen lighting effect onto a new layer

Add your chosen lighting effect onto a new layer

Select your blending mode to melt your lighting effect onto your photo.

Select your blending mode to melt your lighting effect onto your photo.

Step 5 -  Once it is in position, select ‘Blend’ to select which mode will help your lighting effect integrate with your original photo. I chose ‘Screen’ but Lighten and Overlay also would have worked well in this instance. You can tap each option to see what looks best on your image and adjust the Opacity slider to make the effect more gentle or intense.

Step 6 - Once you are happy with the result you can layer additional effects or export your image.

Ta da! The finished image with added sun flare.

Ta da! The finished image with added sun flare.

For the most natural looking effects It is important to ensure that your added layer compliments the existing lighting in your image and comes from the same direction as the sun. The best results come from enhancing the original light source rather than creating a new one.

Will you be trying this tutorial out? We’d love to see the results if you do.

Want to try some other tools to add fun lighting effects to your image? Check out our blog post Let’s get lit! 9 awesome tools to add glitter, sparkle and shine to your photos