How To Create Light Wraps In Photoshop – Light Spills For Better Composites

Welcome back to another very exciting tutorial
here at the My name is Jesus Ramirez and you can find
me on Twitter @JRfromPTC. In this tutorial, I’m going to show you how
to create light wraps in Photoshop. Light wraps or light spills, as they’re sometimes
called, are a technique that video compositors use to help them create better blends between
the background and the foreground. Usually, you would use a program like Adobe After Effects
to create a light wrap for a video footage. But in this tutorial, we’ll, of course, use
Photoshop to apply this technique to photographs. You can think of a light wrap as a way to
simulate the ambient light in a scene that will be cast on the subject by the background.
This effect is meant to be very subtle. You may not even notice it, but that’s the whole
point. It’s all those little details that make the biggest difference in the end. The
way that we’ll create the light wrap is by creating an outline of the foreground but
use the background pixels, and then, apply it to the subject in our scene. This graphic
shows how the layers are going to be laid out. It’s all very straightforward. In my second example, I’ll show you how to
apply the light wrap to a scene where the subject is indoors and in a dark area. I’ll
also show you how to add ambient color to the foreground, so that it blends better with
the background. Remember that this tutorial is showing you a technique that could be created
and applied in many different ways, and that you may find different blending modes or adjustments
that work better for your images. It’s more important for you to understand why this effect
can help your composites rather than the specific values that I’m going to use. Also, keep in
mind that this tutorial is all about light wraps, and we’ll disregard other issues that
these composites may have, but I do think that these examples will help illustrate the
benefits of light wraps. Okay, let’s get started with the tutorial.
The first thing that you need to do when creating a light wrap is to make a selection out of
your subject, in this case, this woman here. Usually, you may have a layer mask. In this
case I don’t, so I’m simply going to press Ctrl, that’s Command on the Mac, and click
on the Layer thumbnail, but you would click on the Layer Mask if you had one. So the selection
is made around the woman and the area that she is sitting on. In this case, it’s not
going to make a difference, but you may want to only select the subject of your image. Anyway, so now that we have the woman selected,
I’m going to disable the layer by clicking on the Eye icon, here, and clicking on the
Venice layer. So, we’re only looking at the background layer. Then I’m going to go into
Select, Modify, Expand. This is going to expand the selection and I’m going to only expand
it by a few pixels. Two pixels will be okay. You may want to do a few more pixels if you
have a larger image. So, once I press OK, notice that the selection gets a little bit
larger, and then, I can press Ctrl J, Command J on the Mac, to make a duplicate of that
layer, and if I disable the Venice layer, you’ll see the result. And what I’m going to do now is, once again,
press Ctrl, Command, and click on the woman thumbnail. Make a selection out of the same
shape. Again, you may want to click on the Layer Mask, if that’s how your subject is
being isolated. So, now that I have my selection active, I can click on the Duplicate Layer
on this layer 1 then go into Select, Modify, and this time, we’re going to select Contract,
and we’re going to contract the selection for about 5 pixels. Again, this could be a
little more if you have a larger image. I’m going to press OK. And notice, now, my selection
is a little bit smaller and this time I’m just going to press Delete or the Backspace
key on the keyboard to get rid of those pixels, and I have an outline of my subject. I’m going
to press Ctrl D, Command D on the Mac, to Deselect, and I’m going to click and drag
this duplicate layer above my subject, in this case, the woman, and I’m going to double
click on it to rename it, and I’ll call it “light wrap.” Then, I’m going to enable the
woman layer, and you’ll see the result there. I’m going to set the Blend Mode to Screen,
or you can also use Linear Dodge. Experiment with both and see how they work. First, try
Screen, then I’m going to enable the Venice layer—the background—and you’ll see the
result there. Now, obviously, it’s too bright, and it’s not looking very good. The first step is to convert that into a Clipping
Mask, meaning, having the light wrap layer only affect the woman layer. The easiest way
to convert a layer into a Clipping Mask is by selecting it, then pressing Ctrl Alt G,
Command Option G on the Mac, or you can also hover between two layers and hold the Alt
key, that’s option on the Mac, and click, and it does the same thing. So, now, you see
that the light wrap layer only affects the woman layer. Now, this light wrap is a little
too sharp. I want it to be a little softer, so I’m going to have to blur this layer. With
that layer is selected—the light wrap layer, I’m then going to go into Filter, Blur, Gaussian
Blur, and 48 pixels is way too much. I’m going to bring that down to .1, just increase it
until I find something that I like. So, in this case, about 4 pixels is good. I’m just
looking at the edges here. I know it’s a little too bright in some areas. We’re going to fix
that in a moment, and I’m going to press OK. Then, I can use the Opacity Slider to bring
down the Opacity of this layer. I’m going to click and drag that to bright, and right
at about, maybe, 40% in this case is a good number, so this is before and this is after. If your image requires it, you can create
a layer mask and paint with black in areas that you don’t want to have affected, for
example, maybe, the railing here that she is sitting on; maybe we don’t want to add
a light wrap to that. That’s before and that’s after. If you have some dark areas like the
hair, that the effect is too strong, then we can just mask that out, and then, go into
the Fade Menu by going into Edit, Fade. You can bring the Opacity on that down, and then,
increase that accordingly until you find something that you are happy with, maybe, something
like that, and press OK. So, this is the before and this is the after. So, this light wrap
layer helps the composition come together a little more by using light and color that
are found in the image, so that the subject and the background interact with each other
just a little bit better, and helps create a more realistic composition, so, again, before
and after. Now we’re going to work on a composition that’s
very similar. The difference is that we’re now in a dark room, and having the light wrap
set to Screen, which will be too bright, or Linear Dodge. Both will be way too bright
for that, and, by the way, I’ve already created the light wrap. I used the same technique
as I used in the previous example. I just created it in advance so that we could save
a little bit of time. So, I have my light wrap here. I’m going to put that into a Clipping
Mask, Ctrl Alt G, Command Option G on the Mac, and the light wrap only affects the dancer
now. And as I said, Linear Dodge and Screen are not just going to work. It’s going to
make the image too bright. We’re in a dark environment here. So, in this case, I can
use Soft Light, and, again, bring the Opacity down accordingly, and you’ll see the difference;
before, and that’s after. Another thing that I want you to take a look
at is in this example, if I zoom in, you’ll see that the light that’s coming down hitting
on the shirt, is bouncing up, and you can see some of that pink here on the gray sweater.
That will also be true for some of the environment here. You notice the blue green wall here,
where you would expect to see some of that on her shirt, maybe even on her face, and
the rest of her body, actually. So, one of the things that you can do to, sort of, mimic
that effect, the similar effect you see here on the sweater is by taking the background
and duplicating it, Ctrl J, Command J on the Mac, and move that up to the very, very top.
And I’m actually going to Zoom Out just so you can see what’s going on. Then, I’m going
to go into Filter, Blur, Gaussian Blur, and I’m just going to blur this, up until I lose
all detail, but the color is still there. So, maybe, about 47 pixels, in this case and
I’m going to press OK. Then, I can create another Clipping Mask, Ctrl Alt G, Command
Option G on the Mac, then I can switch the Blend Mode of this to Color, and bring the
Opacity way down, maybe, all the way to zero, and then, you can increase it accordingly
until you see something that you’re happy with. In my case, we’re going to go to about
25%. I’m going to Zoom In just so you could see some of that detail, and if I disable
the layer, see the before, and the after. Do you see where she gets some of those blue
grays on the sweater? We’re just trying to apply some of that color that’s found in the
environment on to the subject so that it fits better within that environment. If at this point you think that applying this
color layer made you sort of desaturate the image, that’s okay. If you want to saturate
the image a bit more, then you can create a new adjustment layer and go into the Vibrance
Adjustment Layer, make it into a Clipping Mask. In this case, you can just click on
this icon here if you like. It does the same thing as pressing Ctrl Alt G, Command Option
G, and you can increase the Vibrance. So, you get a little bit of a stronger color.
It’s that same blue green color that’s sort of makes the environment. Of course, there’s
a whole lot more that you can do to create more realistic compositions. But in this tutorial
I just wanted to show you these two quick examples that you can use to create better
compositions in Photoshop. And that’s it for this tutorial. I hope that
you enjoyed it and that you learned something new. If you have any comments or questions,
leave them down below. If you enjoyed the tutorial, don’t forget to click that Like
button and share this video with a friend. If you haven’t already, subscribe to the Photoshop
Training Channel now. Thank you for watching and I’ll talk to you again soon.


  1. Steve LeMaster February 10, 2016 at 7:57 pm

    Clever. Works like outer glow, but using the background instead

  2. Eric February 10, 2016 at 7:59 pm


  3. Camilo Güell February 10, 2016 at 8:26 pm

    Nice! very advanced, hope to see more.

  4. Raymond St Paul February 10, 2016 at 8:55 pm

    I didn't know of this technique of your tutorial thank you for making it easy to understand. I'm glad you make it for us that don't have CC which means I can still learn something new with my Photoshop CS6 Extended. I hope more are coming soon!

  5. slimmccoy February 10, 2016 at 11:19 pm

    Fantastic, best composite tutorials on youtube. Love the technical side you bring to all of your tutorials

  6. ryut February 11, 2016 at 1:30 am

    Thank you Jesus, this is exactly I needed to know!

  7. Joseph raj February 11, 2016 at 2:48 am

    Again a great tutorial, The tutorials you providing are very advanced and simple to understand. Thank you very much…..

  8. Remo Fiore February 11, 2016 at 11:14 am

    Top class, just what I needed, perfect timing hahaha.
    Thanks for sharing your expertise.

  9. Jason Patz February 11, 2016 at 1:16 pm

    Using a blurred copy of the background to add the color instead of an averaged color is a great idea. It seems like it would be more realistic. Thanks!

  10. Jens Bondarenko February 11, 2016 at 1:28 pm

    Your tutorial is very helpful, thanks 🙂 But the sound of your voice is often very compressed when not so loud and sometimes hard to understand for not native english speakers. Maybe your audio codec compresses to harsh or your mic is not the best for speech.

  11. Виктор Д February 11, 2016 at 2:49 pm

    Cool and very helpful, thank you!

  12. Ameet Pawar February 11, 2016 at 2:57 pm

    thank you sir….!

  13. Mark Feliciano February 11, 2016 at 7:59 pm

    another great tut Jesus!

  14. dragon34672 February 11, 2016 at 9:43 pm

    awesomeness as always☺

  15. Lisa Maier February 13, 2016 at 5:50 pm

    Thanks for the effect tutorial. Like!

  16. AMetalPenguin February 16, 2016 at 2:10 am

    Jesus… It's been like a decade since I was able to find a video out there that taught me something about Photoshop I didn't know.

    You blew my mind the entire video.

    Liked and subbed. Gonna share with my team.

  17. Meira Vich February 17, 2016 at 9:39 pm

    The second part, when you made clipping mask from the background to subject and put it in a different blending mode, so simple yet GENIUS

  18. Jaime Lacayo C. February 18, 2016 at 2:15 am

    Your photoshop skills are incredible, but you teaching skills are even better.

  19. Debbie Ash February 21, 2016 at 5:02 pm

    Excellent instruction… thank you!

  20. Oscar Campos March 3, 2016 at 12:51 am

    thanks for the great tutorial!!

  21. 刘二哥 March 13, 2016 at 2:17 am


  22. Stefano April 23, 2016 at 7:40 pm


  23. Luis Valderrama April 24, 2016 at 3:02 am

    Thanks for sharing.

  24. Rob Capilli May 3, 2016 at 12:27 pm

    Wouldn't a new layer with a white brush and blendIf work the same?

  25. 김대길 May 21, 2016 at 12:00 am

    your tutorial is like thirty quancher !!!. i always  wonder how can i compose different object look cohesive.especially , the last one which use blur and blending "color" was amazing!many thanks!!

  26. Rob Odekerken May 25, 2016 at 11:36 am

    I like your Tut's Tanks

  27. Hisyam Sulthony June 29, 2016 at 4:39 pm

    LOVE IT!

  28. Tia DeGiobbi August 25, 2017 at 8:13 pm

    This is so amazing and you make it so easy! Love

  29. 饿了大熊 November 12, 2017 at 4:52 am

    Hi Jesus! Is wrap light = rim light.?Under What light condition do we add wrap light ? Can wrap light be creat by using inner glow?

  30. R Garlin July 17, 2018 at 5:59 am

    You're the best compositor on YouTube. No contest!

  31. murali narayanan July 17, 2018 at 6:46 am

    Awesome. I was wondering how some images had this special effect. You just blew the secret out. Inspirational technique for me to apply in my PP.Thank you so much.

  32. mangesh mahore July 18, 2018 at 10:51 am

    Thanks for uploading…..It's very fantastic..

  33. Lee Đỗ July 24, 2018 at 2:44 am

    thanks you!

  34. Mark Davies November 14, 2018 at 10:34 am

    it might be a great tutorial but that second image, just puts me off from watching anymore… that is not blended into the back ground that just looks like a copy paste the lighting on the dancing girl is totally wrong.

  35. I.R. Azzam January 19, 2019 at 1:38 am

    My questions has been answered Thank you!

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