Help me paint a shaft of light
Answer Belinda replies
There are few things that can evoke a sense of magic and wonder more simply than a glimmering stream of light piercing through darkness.
To make the lighting believable and effective, you’ll need to take account of a few factors, such as the mood you want to convey and the kind of atmosphere the light is shining through. For example, is it a dusty room or a crystalline cavern? The effect of the light can also create a range of feelings such as mystery, hope, sadness and nostalgia, depending on the effect of the light on its surroundings. If a character is side-lit by a sliver of light with their face remaining in shadow, they might look threatening or mysterious, whereas if their face is lit by the light, they could look hopeful and thoughtful.
Here I’ve painted a simple scene of a dusty old room to demonstrate some straightforward Photoshop techniques for how to approach painting a shaft of light. The technique uses layer blending modes and adjustment layers for maximum flexibility, and it can be used for other forms of lighting situations, too. Have a play around with this technique to create different lighting effects.
Adjustment layers can give you great control over the lighting in your image, from ambient lighting to directional shafts of light.