Fantasy Lighting Tutorial

If you want to get a little more creative with your portrait photography then stick with us. We’ve developed a simple 4 step tutorial to create amazing fantasy lighting in your photos.

Check out the video tutorial below or read the step-by-step guide further down.

Step 1

To create our fantasy lighting portrait let’s start off in Photoshop, start off by duplicating your image as a new layer.

You can do that by choosing LAYER>DUPLICATE LAYER from the top toolbar.

From there head to FILTER and look for RENDER>LENS FLARE.

You can choose any of the presets you like but just position it correctly, so it chimes with any lighting in your original photo.

fantasy lighting Step 1
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Step 2

The second step of our fantasy lighting is to choose a suitable LUT.

Start by adding an adjustment layer at the bottom of the Layers panel and pick COLOUR LOOKUP.

Here you can use any of the 3DLUT options in the dropdown.

Have a look through all the available options to see what you like the most.

fantasy lighting step 2

Step 3

Next, we need to add some colour to our fantasy lighting.

This colour can be as bold as you want as it’s meant to be conceptual and not based in nature. Be as creative as you want.

Using a GRADIENT adjustment layer pick from the presets (or create your own) and place it over the top of the current layers.

Then you need to blend the gradient with the rest of the design using a layer blend mode.

LIGHTEN or SCREEN tends to work well with lighter colours but choose what you prefer.

fantasy lighting step 3

Step 4

Finally, our last step is optional, but we think adds a great effect to the fantasy lighting. You can add effect brushes over the gradient to sprinkle the photo with snow, butterflies, leaves, light orbs – whatever you want!

You can download brushes for Photoshop online. Brusheezy one of our favourite places to try.

Pick out colours that appear in the design already to colour your brush and dab it around the design on a new layer. Choose to blur effect and erase it in places so it gives the fantasy portrait a little more shape and dynamics.

fantasy lighting step 4


This tutorial is so straight forward only requires a little imagination (and Photoshop) as to what you can add to your fantasy portrait. Get inspiration by using places such as Pinterest and the iPhotography gallery.

We hope that you’ve enjoyed this guide to fantasy lighting. If you’ve given it a try then please share your efforts with us on our social media, tag #iphotography.

If you want to learn more about Photoshop or Portrait Photography, then be sure to check out our two excellent courses: iPhotography PS and iPhotography Portrait Course.

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