How to create a realistic sunflare in Photoshop

How to create a realistic sun in Photoshop

Have you ever seen those shots to where the car is positioned almost perfectly to where the sun looks as if it’s pointing directly at the car, or maybe you have a great photo but it seems like there’s something missing? Well if so, I have something that may just shine a little more light to the photo.

Why don’t we just jump right into it?

How to create a realistic sun in adobe photoshop

Here we have our edited image of this stunning McLaren Orange P1 sitting in race-mode on a golf course.

The first thing we want to do is get the image into Photoshop. Next we want to immediately click the New Layer button right under the Layers Toolbar.

How to create a realistic sun in adobe photoshop

After creating a new layer, go into your Tool Panel on the left and select the Brush Tool.

How to create a realistic sun in adobe photoshop

Once we select our brush, we want to right click on the image to bring up the brush properties.

How to create a realistic sun in adobe photoshop

Once we have this open, we want to bring the brush slider to around 1000 px and the Hardness to 0%. After completing this, make sure your brush color is set to white and then click once in the center of the image.

How to create a realistic sun in adobe photoshop

You should get something like this. Once we have created our base, we want to then hit CTRL + J (Windows) or CMD + J (Mac) to duplicate this layer.

How to create a realistic sun in adobe photoshop

Once the layer is duplicated, we want to double click the new layer’s name and change it to flare. This is not a necessary step but does help in order to keep everything organized.

How to create a realistic sun in adobe photoshop

Now, we want to hit CTRL + T (Windows) or CMD + T (Mac) to open up the transform box. (Make sure you have the flare layer selected before this step) We then want to hold ALT + SHIFT and drag the transform box out to create a nice fade.

How to create a realistic sun in adobe photoshop

After you’ve stretched out the fade layer, we want to go into the layers box and change the layer type from Normal to Linear Dodge (Add) for both of our sun layers. Doing this will allow us to control the strength of the glow using the fill sliders instead of the opacity later on.

How to create a realistic sun in adobe photoshop

After switching both layer types to Linear Dodge, we want to go into the adjustments box right above the layers panel and select Hue/Saturation.

How to create a realistic sun in adobe photoshop

Once you select the Hue/Saturation box, we want to check the colorize box and drag the hue somewhere in the oranges. I’m going to change the hue to around 27 for the sake of this image. After you select your hue, you want to then crank the saturation slider all the way to 100 and exit out of it. The image will look out of whack but we’ll fix that later.

How to create a realistic sun in adobe photoshop

Now once we have done this, we want to hold down the alt key and hover the mouse between the 2 layers (Hue Saturation Layer and Flare layer) and click. This basically applies the hue color to only the white fade we have created, but in order to see the color applied we need to drag the Lightness slider to the left. For the sake of this image, I will bring the Lightness slider to -19.

How to create a realistic sun in adobe photoshop

You should now have something similar to the result above. We want to the repeat the process again by creating a Hue/Saturation layer and attach it to the center glow. For the sake of the image I’m working on, I’ll make the Hue 34, Saturation 100, and Lightness -11. Remember to click the colorize box!

How to create a realistic sun in adobe photoshop

You can now see how we have created an inner glow halo right around the outside, and now notice how the center is still bright white but has a slight orange tint. This will give a more realistic effect.

Now that we have created our sun layer, you can click on the bottom center layer and scroll to the top hue/saturation layer above the flare. Hold down shift and click on the top layer, this will highlight all of the layers we used to create this sun. We want to then right click and select Group from Layers.

How to create a realistic sun in adobe photoshop

Grouping these layers will essentially make the sun a single object, while also allowing us to still have access to all the layers involved.

Once we have grouped the layers I would suggest that you hide the photo’s layer and make the sun it’s own PSD for future use by clicking File > Save as. You want to leave it in the default PSD format and click Zave.

After you’ve done this, unhide the image layer and position the sun where you want it in the image by clicking on only the group we have created. For the sake of this image, I’m going to drag it up near the trees in the top left corner.

How to create a realistic sun in adobe photoshop

The sun effect is a little too intense for me, so I’m going to open up the sun group we created and change the fill settings of both the flare layer and the center layer.

How to create a realistic sun in adobe photoshop

When adjusting the sun intensity with the fill slider, I’d suggest that you start with the flare layer before adjusting the center layers intensity. For this image, I’m going to change the flare’s fill to 58% and the center layer (Layer 2) to 55%.

Here is the finished product with the sun:

How to create a realistic sun in adobe photoshop

Now, this is not something you want to necessarily do to all your images, but it does really enhance the photo where you have some blank space, or when you shoot a car at sunset or sunrise and the sun wasn’t in the image. Now go have fun with this new tool we created, and just play around with it to see what you can do with it!

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