STEP BY STEP / Alter the atmosphere
1 Customise a gradient
Go to the Layers panel, click Create Adjustment Layer and choose Gradient Map. Click the gradient strip, then double-click the ‘colour stop’ icon at the bottom left. Choose a purple (#472084) and click OK. Now open the colour stop icon opposite and choose a yellow (#FFD200).
2 Adjust the colours
Reduce the opacity of the layer to 25%. Click Create Adjustment Layer and choose Solid Color. Select a purple tone (#320227) and click OK. Set the layer’s Blending Mode to Exclusion. Add a Color Balance Adjustment Layer with extra red and yellow in the midtones and highlights.
3 Paint a flare
Click Create New Layer and set the Blending Mode to Linear Dodge (Add). Next, grab the Brush tool, rightclick, and set Hardness to 0. Set the foreground colour to a greenish tone (#696310 here) then, using a fairly large brush size, click once to add the flare.
4 Darken the edges
Add a new layer, set Blending Mode to Linear Dodge (Add), choose a brown (#695310), paint a couple of spots to add to the flare effect. Click Create Adjustment Layer, choose Curves and drag down to darken. Paint over the flare with the Brush tool to hide the darkening effect.
5 Add a burst
Add a Threshold adjustment layer set to 120, merge all layers (Ctrl/Cmd+Shift+Alt+E), delete the Threshold layer and highlight the new layer. Go Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur, Amount 10. Go Filter>Blur>Radial Blur, Amount 100, Method: Zoom, position the blur on the flare.
6 Blend the effect
Change the Blending Mode to Screen, then lower the opacity to tone the effect down. Click the Add Layer Mask icon then grab the Brush tool. Set the colour to black and hit 4 for 40% opacity then paint to gradually tone down the blur effect so that it stays subtle.