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Digital Film Tools Light! 1.0

Lighting effects plugin for Adobe Photoshop By Dave Nagel
The compositing and effects possibilities in Adobe Photoshop are virtually limitless. However, your time is not, and some techniques in Photoshop can take up quite a bit of it. We've looked at several tools recently that try to consolidate and automate functions in Photoshop to save you time--an underrated virtue for any piece of professional-level software. Today we take a look at one that simplifies the process of lighting effects and light compositing into one easy to use interface--Light! from Digital Film Tools.

Light! is a plugin for Photoshop that allows you to create a variety of lighting effects, from mists and fogs to glows and rays to simple, everyday light cast through windows and doors.


Light! is, above all, a practical plugin. It's not designed to produce spacey explosions or illuminated apparitions with ghostly wisps of ether snaking off into the darkness. But it can be used to generate photographic or near-photographic lighting effects to fill in lighting that might be missing or to create the effect of natural phenomena.

The plugin works like any other Photoshop filter. Just choose your layer, and select it from the Filter menu. It calls up an interface that then provides you with a variety of options for enhancing lighting.



Most of the interface elements are too self-explanatory for me to get into. But there are some goodies that I want to talk about. The first is the software's sophisticated matte extraction technology. An automatically generated matte is used as the basis for the distribution of light on the image. But you can also go in a tweak the matte significantly, using luminosity, color (R, G, B, C, M, Y), hue or saturation. And then you can go in and adjust the position of the matte source, the range (to include neighboring values) and the blur.



The benefit of this matte extraction, aside from providing flexibility for light placement, is that the matte can also be used as a displacement map for the lighting effects, which I'll get to momentarily.

The second feature that stands out is the program's ability to use grayscale images as objects for casting light on a scene. So rather than just enhancing existing light, you can also add cast light--say from a window or skylight. The images below show before and after using the Light! filter with a vertical blind shape.





Or perhaps rays of light beaming down below the surface of the water.




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