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Cool and Easy Photoshop Effects

Updated on January 23, 2015

Lighting Effects

In this day and age of ever improving technology, editing your photos can be just as easy and fun as taking them in the first place. Even the "photographically challenged" can end up with some great results by using Adobe Photoshop Elements, an affordable and (relatively) simple to use photo editing software. Here are some of my favorite, cool, and easy Photoshop effects.

In this photo, I wanted to brighten up the shadow crossing the subject's face. I also thought that the rather ugly t-shirt graphics were too eyecatching, so I wanted to de-emphasize that a bit. I used Photoshop Lighting Effects to accomplish both. To use the Lighting Effects feature, simply open your photo in the "Full-Edit" mode.

  1. Click on the "effects" or "fx" button, usually on the right side of the screen.
  2. Select "Show All." This will list your effect options in alphabetical order. You may have to hover over the pictured choices to see the names.
  3. Scroll down to the "L" s to find "Lighting Effects" then double-click to select.
  4. Now you will see a pop-up box with "style" as one of the first choices. Click to see your choices in the drop-down box.
  5. I chose "Crossing Down" in this photo, but there are at least 15 choices available. You can just play with the different options to see what you like. Remember that you can always undo anything, so don't be afraid to experiment.
  6. The pop-up box also has options for light types, properties and texture. You can change these to your liking or let Photoshop make suggestions. You can also drag and drop the location of the light source and see it all it the preview screen.
  7. Make sure to save a copy of your final project in addition to your original photo. It is a good idea to title them accurately so that you can remember which is which.

Photoshop Lighting Effects

Natural Light
Natural Light | Source
"Crossing Down" Light
"Crossing Down" Light

Using Artistic Effects

To use the Artistic Effects feature, open your photo in the Full-Edit mode of Photoshop.

  1. Select "Filters," usually on the right side of the screen
  2. Now you will see a drop-down box with many choices. Click on the "Artistic" button.
  3. Now there will be several more choices with self explanatory names like: pastel, colored pencil, brush strokes, etc. Again, don't be afraid to experiment.
  4. Once you have chosen the style you want, you will be able to choose things like the size of the brush strokes, or brightness of the colored pencils...get creative and have fun here!


Stylize with Artistic Effects

Unedited photo
Unedited photo | Source
Photo stylized with "Brush Strokes"
Photo stylized with "Brush Strokes"

Photo Aging Effects

For a nostalgic feel to your image (which I especially like for pictures of children,) there are several photo effects to make the picture look old, tattered, sunbleached, etc. To use the Photo Effects, first open you picture in the "Full-Edit" mode.

  1. Click on the "Photo Effects" button on the right side of the screen.
  2. Click on the drop-down panel to see the choices.
  3. Click on "Vintage Photo" which will then lead you to a few sub-categories such as "old paper" and "cracked glass."
  4. There are also options to change your photo to black and white, sepia or to make edges look tattered.

Photo Effects

Unedited photo with natural lighting
Unedited photo with natural lighting
Photo changed to look old by using Photo Effects "Old Photo" and "Sun Aged" for filters.
Photo changed to look old by using Photo Effects "Old Photo" and "Sun Aged" for filters.

Healing Brush Tool

Here is a nice photo, but wouldn't it be even better if you could get rid of those feet on the right and/or that black object on the left? Using the Healing Brush tool is one of my favorite ways to touch up those little annoying details in an otherwise cool photo. Again, open your photo in the "Full-Edit" mode.


  1. On the left of your photo image is an icon that looks like a bandage called the "Healing Brush Tool". Double-click on the icon.
  2. Across the top of the screen, you will now see the word "brush" with a number next to it. This is how you choose your brush size. Click on it to control the size of the area you are editing.
  3. I usually use the zoom tool here as well so that I can get a close-up, detailed area to work with. You will have to adjust your brush size after you zoom in.
  4. Now choose an area of the photo that is the color, texture, pattern, etc., that you would like to use. In this case, I chose the tiles in the background. Alt+Click on that area.
  5. Now click and drag your brush to "paint" over the areas you are trying to remove.

Healing Brush Tool

Source
Use the "Healing Brush" tool to perfect your photo!
Use the "Healing Brush" tool to perfect your photo!

Brightness and Contrast

When it comes to brightness and contrast, Photoshop could not make it any easier. You do not even need to go into the "Full-Edit" mode for this one. Just open your photo in Photoshop, then:

  1. Choose the "Fix" tab in the upper right side of the screen.
  2. Under "fix," you will see the options "Quick-fix," "Full-Edit," and "Guided-Edit." Choose "Quick-fix."
  3. Now, you will see "Lighting," Color," and "Sharpen."
  4. Slide the bars to adjust to your liking.
  5. That's it...easy! Don't forget to save your changes.

Brightness and Contrast

Photo of a rescued eagle before using Brightness and Contrast...
Photo of a rescued eagle before using Brightness and Contrast... | Source
and after.
and after.

Quick Selection Tool

The "Quick Selection Tool" is a great tool for cutting out an object in a photo and then completely changing the background, without having to go, painstakingly, around the edges with the "Eraser" or "Healing Brush" tool.

  1. Click onto the "Quick Selection" tool found to the left of the photo. It looks like a wand. (Not to be confused with the "Magic Wand" tool.)
  2. Using the tool, select and highlight the area you want to cut out. You will get a glowing dotted line around the perimeter of the area that has been selected. You can keep adding more to the area.
  3. Now, right-click on the highlighted area and choose "select inverse" from the drop-down choices. Now the back ground is highlighted instead.
  4. Left click on the background (anywhere) and choose "fill selection" from the drop-down menu.
  5. Now you will get a pop-up box in which you can choose the color of your "fill" or new background. Also, you can change the blending and opacity with this tool.

Quick Selection Tool

Pretty wings but ugly background...
Pretty wings but ugly background... | Source
...with Photoshop, you can select the good and change the parts you don't like.
...with Photoshop, you can select the good and change the parts you don't like.

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    • profile image

      rubenpeters162 5 years ago

      I love using a photoshop to edit some images in my blog of [url="http://lifestyledesignyouneed.blogspot.com/#!/2012/07/lifestyle-design-how-to-achieve-life.html"]lifestyle design[/url] because adobe photoshop is the best image editor that I've ever used.

    • bmukherjii profile image

      bmukherjii 5 years ago

      amazing pictures..but you recreated them all

    • Mrs. Menagerie profile image
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      Mrs. Menagerie 5 years ago from The Zoo

      Thank you Michifus and Cloudexplorer!

    • CloudExplorer profile image

      Mike Pugh 5 years ago from New York City

      I haven't read this hub in it's entirety yet, but I will definitely be back for the fine details. I just love how you've displayed your experience using photoshop. Awesome stuff! Voted up for beautiful & Awesome.

      I'll be back later today for sure to finish reading it all.

    • michifus profile image

      michifus 5 years ago

      An excellent hub. I have so many photos where I have captured the moment, but messed up with the lighting. Others where there is something that is spoiling an otherwise great image. Thanks for the tips, these will really help to turn lifeless photos into something really special!

    • Mrs. Menagerie profile image
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      Mrs. Menagerie 5 years ago from The Zoo

      Hi RTalloni, MsLizzy and Alladream and thank you so much!

    • profile image

      desyrb 5 years ago

      Congrats on Hub of the day, your article was really informative....!!

    • profile image

      john 5 years ago

      i also do love doing things in photoshop, my only problem now is i found a new version of photoshop which is cs6, since its free and fully functional, i downloaded it since im a sort of a guy who loves to download what is latest, my problem now is its kind of a new look to me, most of tutorials are based on cs3 or cs5. i hope there is some site who have video tutorial on cs6, if you wanna ask where i find it, this link might help;

      http://sharepirate.com/freedownloads/adobe-photosh...

      thanks if there is someone who can point me on other site who shows some tutorial, i can easily learn, the hard part is the start up on how to work on stuff and tools around this new version of cs6

    • Mrs. Menagerie profile image
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      Mrs. Menagerie 5 years ago from The Zoo

      Thanks so much randomcreative.

      Practical Mommy...I think photoshop is a great mommy tool. We all know how hard it is to get that great photo of those busy, busy kiddos!

      Than you so much arusho!

      greatstuff, give it another try, I'd be happy to help if you just ask!

      loneyi--that is a great idea to go to youtube for help!

    • Mrs. Menagerie profile image
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      Mrs. Menagerie 5 years ago from The Zoo

      Thank you Thelma, Toni, pstraubie, chicagoguy, Admiral and softhard!!!!! I really appreciate your reading and I love, love, love comments!!!

    • prairieprincess profile image

      Sharilee Swaity 5 years ago from Canada

      Congratulations on your hub of the day nomination! We don't have Photoshop but I would like to learn how to do cool things with photos like this. It really helps to have these skills for doing online work, too. Fantastic hub with great photos and instructions!

    • CZCZCZ profile image

      CZCZCZ 5 years ago from Oregon

      Great Photoshop basics. The tips are excellent!

      I have Photoshop on the computer however sometimes I feel like it is overwhelming with all of the things that can be done. I will give some of these basics a try to see what I can do to some photos that I have wanted to alter, but have not taken the time to learn yet.

    • Apryl Schwarz profile image

      Apryl Schwarz 5 years ago from Nebraska

      Some beautiful photos. Love the one of the boys holding hands on the beach. And is the one at "The Bean" in Chicago?

    • oceansnsunsets profile image

      Paula 5 years ago from The Midwest, USA

      These are all things I hope to do with Photoshop one day. I am one of the few who have never used it, yet love to take photos and I do edit them, just not with photoshop. I don't do much editing unless I really need to. Happy to see your hub, thanks for sharing and showing before and after examples. The steps on how to get it done are great. No mystery, thank you!

    • Sarah Darling profile image

      Sarah Darling 5 years ago from Powder Springs

      Great Tips!! I have just started to learn about photoshop and how to use it this hub helps a lot thank you!!!

    • travel_man1971 profile image

      Ireno Alcala 5 years ago from Bicol, Philippines

      Awesome features regarding Photoshop. Thanks for sharing, Mrs. M!

    • xethonxq profile image

      xethonxq 5 years ago

      This is awesome. Thanks for the easy to follow steps! I loved it!

    • musicclout profile image

      musicclout 5 years ago

      A nice hub for anyone interested in making their pics looks 100% better.

    • Alladream74 profile image

      Victor Mavedzenge 5 years ago from Oakland, California

      Good article.Well explained procedures.

    • DzyMsLizzy profile image

      Liz Elias 5 years ago from Oakley, CA

      Very good article. I have the full-on PhotoShop program, and I've never had or worked with the "Elements" program. Many of the menu items you mention are different from the ones in the full version, but the end results seem the same or similar.

      I have a lot of fun fiddling with photos, but most of the time, I'm just doing basic contrast and background adjustments, and re-sizing for upload to the web..."work" related, in other words. ;-)

      I did enjoy the article. Voted up, interesting & useful.

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 5 years ago from the short journey

      Oh how I want to work more with photos. Thanks for encouragement to do so and congrats on Hub of the Day!

    • Mrs. Menagerie profile image
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      Mrs. Menagerie 5 years ago from The Zoo

      Thank you 101, Thelma and Toni--I hope you do give photoshop a try! It's fun!

    • profile image

      loanyi 5 years ago

      Excellent work. I love Photoshop I'm getting better and better each time. I usually go to youtube for tutorial, but this here has been of great use. Thanks

    • greatstuff profile image

      Mazlan 5 years ago from Malaysia

      Congrats on being nominated..I have been wanting to learn photoshop and but had problem in understanding the techniques, when I tried a few years back..maybe should give it a try again. love your 1st photo

    • Mrs. Menagerie profile image
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      Mrs. Menagerie 5 years ago from The Zoo

      Howdy Bushraismail, vasantha and mary and thank you! Mary--just FYI, I saw the latest Photoshop at Costco for a great price! Yes, you could definitely get rid of the wallet in the photo!

    • arusho profile image

      arusho 5 years ago from University Place, Wa.

      I love Photoshop it is a very powerful graphic tool. Good hub!

    • ThePracticalMommy profile image

      Marissa 5 years ago from United States

      Congrats on the Hub of the Day! I really like what you have done to your photos. It may be time to invest in Photoshop! Thanks for sharing! :)

    • randomcreative profile image

      Rose Clearfield 5 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Wow, awesome resource! Congrats on getting Hub of the Day!

    • softhard profile image

      softhard 5 years ago from Kathmandu

      These are the really useful tips. Photoshop is a indeed a great tool. Thanks for sharing this. The way you describe are really easy understanding so even the beginners can quietly apply them. Great.

    • Admiral_Joraxx profile image

      Admiral_Joraxx 5 years ago from Philippines

      Great tips! thanks for sharing this! =) i voted up and useful.

    • chicagoguy profile image

      Raj Lally Batala 5 years ago from Chicago ,USA

      cool tips!! thanks for sharing !!

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 5 years ago from sunny Florida

      Good morning...Mrs.Menagerie...

      This is just what I needed to find on HP. I am just learning to take pictures and have never 'photoshopped' although I have heard of it. Now I think i may be ready to take the plunge and try it. The little person in the photos looks like this was fun to shoot. Thanks again.

    • Toni Brit-Toni profile image

      Toni Brit-Toni 5 years ago from United Kingdom

      Great Hub and i found it amazing what you can do with photoshop, lol never was one for being in front of the camera..

      :)

    • Thelma Alberts profile image

      Thelma Alberts 5 years ago from Germany

      Congratulation for the hub of the day. Awesome article. Thanks for sharing.

    • pinoy101 profile image

      pinoy101 5 years ago from Philippines

      Awesome hub! I haven't really been interested in editing photos but maybe I should change that and catch up. Thanks for sharing this. Congratulations on Hub of the Day!

    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 5 years ago from Florida

      Congrats on Hub of the Day! Glad I read this. I really would like to improve my photos. Wish I had photoshop today. I'm doing a Hub where I took a photo of the object, and there is an unwanted wallet in the photo that I forgot to move. I could get rid of the wallet if I had photoshop, I'll bet.

      I've bookmarked this so I can come back.

      Thanks for sharing, Mary

    • vasantha  T k profile image

      vasantha T k 5 years ago from Bangalore

      Interesting photo effects. Thanks for sharing. With best wishes.

    • bushraismail profile image

      bushraismail 5 years ago from ASIA

      I did a diploma in Photoshop but forgot almost everything due to lack of touch...i prefer taking the pictures perfect than editing them...great reminder from you thanx and the first is the best wow..the sun light plays beautifully..

    • Mrs. Menagerie profile image
      Author

      Mrs. Menagerie 5 years ago from The Zoo

      Hi sofs, thank you for "stopping by," I hope you will find this hub to be useful!

    • sofs profile image

      sofs 5 years ago

      This is a great hub that needs to be bookmarked.. Amazing techniques and willingness to share knowledge. I will be back to read at leisure. Thank you :) God Bless!

    • Mrs. Menagerie profile image
      Author

      Mrs. Menagerie 5 years ago from The Zoo

      Hi Simone and thanks a million!!!

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 5 years ago from San Francisco

      Goodness gracious, this is a FABULOUS guide, and I love the photos you've used, too. It's amazing how big a difference some small photo editing tweaks can make, and you've showcased some of my favorite tools... plus reminded me of a couple that I should play with more.

      Thanks so much, Mrs. Menagerie!

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 5 years ago from San Francisco

      Goodness gracious, this is a FABULOUS guide, and I love the photos you've used, too. It's amazing how big a difference some small photo editing tweaks can make, and you've showcased some of my favorite tools... plus reminded me of a couple that I should play with more.

      Thanks so much, Mrs. Menagerie!

    • Mrs. Menagerie profile image
      Author

      Mrs. Menagerie 5 years ago from The Zoo

      Hi RedElf and thanks for the encouragement!

    • RedElf profile image

      RedElf 5 years ago from Canada

      Hope you write more of these - I love learning more fun effects and tricks in Photoshop.

    • Mrs. Menagerie profile image
      Author

      Mrs. Menagerie 5 years ago from The Zoo

      Sure is...thanks for commenting Geoff!

    • Geoff Morova profile image

      Geoff Morova 5 years ago from South Dakota

      I wish I had more time to work in Publisher. It's amazing the things you can do with pictures these days. Even my phone has a program to age photos. It's great!