In my last post, I wrote about how we can create a new layer in order to manipulate and gain greater control over using the Lens Flare filter in Adobe Photoshop. If you haven’t read that post, you really should. I shared some pretty awesome tips in it that you’ll surely want to tuck away for the next time you use this filter.
In today’s post, I want to take things a step further. I’d like to discuss how we can use an adjustment layer and a layer mask to change the color of parts of a lens flare using Adobe Photoshop. These two posts, combined, will give you enough ammo to go out there and apply lens flares to your photos with the best of them.
For today’s post, I’ll be using a photo of two elephants. I chose this photo because it’s in black and white. Any lens flare I add will have its color clearly visible, which is going to make my demonstration all that much easier to see and understand.
Applying the Lens Flare
In this section, I’ll follow the instructions I shared in my previous post. I’ll get the new layer set up, fill it with black, apply the lens flare and then change the blending option so we can see it over the actual image.
Okay, that’s done. As you can see, the reddish part of the flare is in the upper right corner and the greenish part of the flare is in the lower left corner.
Changing the Color of Part of the Lens Flare
I’m going to pretend that I want to modify this photo so it looks more cool than realistic. To do this, I need to change the color of the part of the flare in the upper corner from red to bluish glow with an orange ring at the center. The thing is, I don’t want to alter any other colors in the flare. I’d like to keep them the way they currently are.
To accomplish my task, I’m going to create a Color Balance adjustment layer. I’ll also remove the Screen blending option on the lens flare layer for the time being, so I can see the color change more accurately.
Before I go any further though, let’s take a quick look at the current lens flare colors.
It’s the large lower part of the flare that I’d like to keep just as it is.
Now, I’ll push the top slider in the Color Balance Properties tab all the way to the left.
Now, let’s take a look at the colors of the entire lens flare once again.
Uh oh. We’ve got problems. By me pushing that top slider, I not only changed the color of the top half of the flare, but I also changed the color of the bottom one. Well, I should say that I changed the color slightly and made it much brighter. Not cool. I need to change that. I want it to stay sort of subdued in the background and certainly not so bright.
Since adjustment layers come with built in masks, all I need to do is use the Brush Tool to paint whatever the area is I’d like to preserve, black. Painting an area of a mask black will hide that part of the layer. I’ll do that right now.
Ah, that’s better. Now, if you compare the previous image with the one directly above it, you should see that the lower circle is back to it’s dull self.
Okay, I made the necessary changes to the color of the flare. I wonder if that’s all I need to do. I’ll change the blending mode on the lens flare layer back to Screen so we can get a look at the entire image with the altered lens flare applied.
Oh wow. This is definitely not what I had envisioned at all. It appears that by using the Color Balance adjustment layer over both the lens flare layer and the original image, I colored everything blue, except for that one part I hid by painting it black. If we were in person, I’d be asking you what you think I should do. Since we’re not in person, I’ll just have to tell you. This is a great trick too, so write it down.
To have the adjustment layer mask only affect the layer that’s immediately below it, I’ll need to apply what’s referred to as a Layer Clipping Mask. These are handy tools that let you clearly define what you’d like altered in Photoshop. Luckily, they’re simple to apply and take advantage of. Now, don’t get too crazy about Layer Clipping Masks. I’ll be writing a lot more about them in the future because you can get very creative with their uses. For now, I’m going to simply activate the option.
Do do this, I’ll head back into the Color Balance Properties panel and click on the small clipping mask button at the bottom part of it.
If you look at the above screenshot, you’ll see that I circled the clipping mask button as well as the small arrow that indicates its identity in the Layers panel.
To be more clear, the button I clicked on in the Properties panel says This Adjustment Clips to the Layer (Click to Affect All Layers Below) when I hover over it.
Now, let’s see if my image looks the way I want it to.
Yes, that’s perfect. Now, instead of the top corner glowing red, it glows blue. That’s just what I wanted.
That’s pretty much all you need to know if you’d like to change the color of part of a lens flare in Adobe Photoshop. It’s really easy and the best part is, you can apply the same principles to different types of projects. You can use adjustment layers, masks and clipping masks for a variety of things. If you have any questions or concerns, please leave them in the comment section below. Thanks for reading!