Transform a daytime image with a bright, intense sunset effect in this free Photoshop tutorial
Step 1 – Gradient Fill
Open up a landscape image and add the Gradient fill layer (found inside the circular icon in the Layers palette). In the fly-out menu click on the Gradient option and choose the Foreground to Transparent thumbnail in the Presets.
Step 2 – Colourise the sky
Click on the bottom two of the four colour boxes, setting the left swatch to orange (#ffa422) and the right swatch to white. Hit OK in this window and then tick Reverse in the Gradient Fill menu followed by OK.
Step 3 – Lower brightness
Set the gradient layer’s blend mode to Color and this time add the Curves adjustment from the same icon. Pull the curve’s line downwards to lower the brightness. This will vary on how bright your image is to begin with.
Step 4 – Set Foreground colour
Create a new blank layer between the Curves adjustment and the gradient fill, changing its blend mode to Overlay. Click on your Foreground swatch in the Toolbar and set its colour to a bright yellow (#ffdf4b).
Step 5 – Paint on yellow
Select the Brush tool (B) and, in the Options bar under Brush, set Hardness to 0%. Set Opacity to 30% and paint over the sky starting from where the sun is (or will be). Keep this effect subtle.
Step 6 – Glowing sunlight
Change the Foreground colour to white and paint over the patch of sky where you want the sun to be placed. At 30% Opacity, this will take a couple of stamps of the Brush to reveal a bright white glow.
Step 7 – Final colour
To finish off the effect, add a blank layer to the top of the stack. Set your Foreground colour to a light orange (#ffae00) and press Alt/Opt+Backspace to fill this layer. Change its blend mode to Soft Light and lower its Opacity to 20% to complete the sunset look.