Beautifying Nature with Photoshop: How to Add a Rainbow to Your Image

Nature is always beautiful, and that is why we are so interested in capturing images of all the natural beauty outdoors surrounding us- but hey, there’s no harm in wanting to portray nature at it’s greatest in your images even when that’s not the case at the moment you are clicking photos away outdoors.

In this tutorial I will show you how to add a reasonably realistic rainbow to a photo of a landscape. Here is a photo of Downtown Pittsburgh that I have both taken and edited, before the addition of the rainbow and after:


Downtown Pittsburgh

After the addition of a rainbow:

This transformation can be done in just a couple steps!

First of all, you must add a new blank layer in photoshop above the background layer as shown in picture below. Click on the New Layer icon that is at the bottom of the layers pannel:

Next, you have to use the gradient tool and manually load the rainbow gradient that Photoshop already provides you.

Click on the Gradient Tool from the Tools Panel:

Then, click on the Gradients Picker bar at the top of the screen and click on the arrow at the top right corner and choose the menu option that says special effects.

A message will pop up asking you if you want to replace the original gradients with or just append them to the bottom of the list- click append.

Next, choose the gradient Russell’s Rainbow. We are now ready to use this gradient on our image.

Now, select the Radial tool in the Gradient Options bar and drag out the rainbow by drawing a horizontal line across the image- this is best done by simply playing around and seeing where you like the placement. Drag out right to left as shown.

Now we are going to make the rainbow look more realistic of course!

Gp to the blend mode options in the top left of the Layers Panel and change the mode to Screen as shown below and the rainbow should look more realistic already.

Now we will apply a blur effect called the Gaussian Blur. Click on the filter menu option, then blur, then Gaussian Blur.

Play around with the radius- I used 18 px here.

Lastly, to get rid of the rainbow in the foreground you will have to play around with the black and white gradient and create a layer mask. Create a layer mask by clicking a button on the same bar you used to create a new layer as shown below.

Choose the black and white gradient and the linear gradient from the options bar.

Drag this gradient vertically up as shown below until you are satisfied with where the rainbow starts and ends.

I hope you have a lot of fun with this tutorial and with using this effect on your images with photoshop- I know it’s one of my favorite ones to use!

-Surabhi Menon

~ by surbss on November 6, 2011.

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