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Adding Rim Light with Photoshop

When you’re compositing with Photoshop you’ll often be adding a light source or two, sometimes the light will come from behind. To ‘sell’ the effect you may want to add a rim light.

In this image, that I licensed from my friends at Fotolia, I’ll add some flames behind the model. What I need then is for the flame’s light to reflect on her;

Rim Lighting_b

Rim Lighting_a

Masking in the Flames

I’m not going to go into masking here, but if you’d like to know more about it there’s some great tutorials on TipSquirrel;

What you’ll notice here is that the model looks very sharp against the background now;


Photoshop Layer Styles

There’s two Layer Styles that can help me here, Inner Shadow and Inner glow.

Here’s the difference.


Inner shadow is applied in relation to the Angle of light while Inner glow is applied around the shape.

By exploiting this I can add different rim light to different areas;



Extra Credit : Photoshop CC now allows for multiple instances of many of the Layer Styles, this includes Inner Shadow and Inner Glow.

Finishing Touches

For this example I’ve added some more flames into the foreground, set to Screen Blending Mode to drop out the background.

Then I used the quick colour match technique here;

And I was done.


About Eric Renno (434 Articles)
Eric’s background in video editing with Adobe Premier led to his interest, and then obsession, with Photoshop. Starting TipSquirrel.com as a hobby he is proud to have gathered together and be a part of The Photoshop Nuts. Known as only “TipSquirrel” for two years, Eric ‘went public’ when he was a finalist in The Next Adobe Photoshop Evangelist competition. He’s also been a finalist in Deke’s Techniques Photoshop Challenge. While still taking on some freelance work, Eric has recently become a Lecturer at Peterborough’s Media and Journalism Centre where he enjoys sharing his knowledge as well as learning new skills. This realisation that he loves to teach has made Eric look at altering his career path.

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