Glowing Lights in Photoshop

There are always complex ways to do things, but I tend to favor simple, effective techniques. What if you are doing a dusk or night rendering in Photoshop, and you want to add some lights, shining in the darkness? Select a simple feathered brush, sample the color of the light, and make one quick dab at the location of the light bulb. That is it!

In this architectural illustration, I added a string of festive lighting by tapping the brush at even intervals at the eave line. The color is a very pale yellow, which gives the appearance of clear bulbs, but it could just as easily have been brightly colored lights. The same technique will work on a more complex light fixture such as a carriage light. Paint the carriage light, then tap in the glowing bulb. Place the glow on it’s own layer in case you want to turn the light on and off!

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Creating Seamless Textures

I use textures very frequently in my work, and a very simple trick can make them a lot more useful. It is often advantageous to have the texture tile seamlessly. To put it simply, have the pattern repeat, but in a way that is not apparent to the viewer. Usually signs of a repetition appear at the pattern edges. By using the “Offset” filter, which is found in Photoshop under Filter | Other | Offset, you can shift the pattern so the edges are visible. Set the horizontal and vertical distances as appropriate for your image, and check the Wrap Around radio button. The pattern will shift revealing the edges.

Once the edges are visible, rub them out with a sampling of the pattern. Run the Offset filter again, and look for any edges you might have missed. Repeat this exercise until edge lines are no longer visible. While rubbing out the edges, pay close attention to any distinguishing features in the pattern that might jump out as the pattern repeats. These should be rubbed out as well.

The final step is to fill a large area in a test file with your new pattern. If you cannot see any obvious repetition, your new pattern is a success!

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On Painting Glass

One of the most difficult things, for me, is to get realistic looking glass when painting in Photoshop. As a great deal of my art is architectural, it is a very important part of each painting. Just as the eyes are important in painting portraits, I believe that the windows are what bring life to the building in architectural rendering. They are the “eyes” into the the building.

Unfortunately, each window seems to be done in a different way. I have never really come up with a set pattern, but here are some tips that I use. A window may be as simple as a solid color or a gradient. On a more complex level, the glass will consist of a multitude of layers. I will start with the interior, or what is on the other side of the glass. Then I will add the glass material itself, color, texture (if there is a texture to the glass), and try to arrive at the proper transparency level. Next comes the effect of the environment on the glass, a specular gradient, and then whatever is being reflected on the glass. Each of these will be put in place with different opacities and different blending modes. Again, none of the methods seem to be the same for each window, but by experimenting you can get it right.

There a number of factors to take into consideration when painting glass. Here are a few:

  • Transparency level of the glass
  • What is inside the window
  • What is outside the window
  • How the light is hitting the glass
  • The angle of the glass to the viewer
  • The specular light
  • The shadows
  • What is being reflected
  • Window treatments, such as drapes or blinds inside
  • The light inside
  • The light outside
  • The time of day

Sometimes, none of the above apply. If you notice in the rendering, I simply put a brighter light inside the only visible door to one of the condo units to make it a focal point of the image. Long live artistic license!

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Artwork at Dusk

I have been quite busy lately, producing various kinds of artwork, and even some website work. One project involved a concept and rendering of this small condominium unit.

Here are a couple of larger shots, details in architecture are very important. The additions of light fixtures and other stylized items add a little more realism to the concept.

I set the time of day at dusk just to add a little atmosphere. Used effectively, unusual weather or time of day can create additional mood in an architectural rendering. If you would like to see more of my work, check out my portfolio at

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