How to Give Your Photos the Cyberpunk Look in Photoshop

Hello everyone this is Chris from Spoon Graphics back with another video tutorial for Adobe Photoshop Today I'm going to show you some image processing techniques to achieve a cool Cyberpunk style visual effect within your photos

This popular art style takes inspiration from 80s nostalgia, and the neon-noir genre of movies such as Bladerunner, which feature densely populated, futuristic cities illuminated by bright neon signs and advertisements We'll process the original photo to give it a hyper-realistic HDR appearance, then apply heavy colour grading with hot pinks and bright blues, which are a popular aesthetic of this style Enhancements to the neon signs, plus some subtle mist and smoke effects will then finish off the image with the stylised atmosphere of those neon-noir movies This effect works best with photographs of busy streets in far-eastern cities, such as Toyko, Hong Kong or Seoul Tall buildings and bright lights are key features, but you could also try out images of dark back-alleys to tap into the sinister mood of neon-noir films

Unless you have your own photos from travelling to those parts of the world, it can be quite difficult to find unprocessed images to make use of In this tutorial I'll be using this photo of Seoul, Korea by Steven Roe on Unsplashcom It does already have some bright colour adjustments, but it's a great scene to enhance with a cyberpunk vibe Open your chosen photograph in Adobe Photoshop

Begin by duplicating the background layer to save a copy of the original for reference Right click on the duplicate layer and choose Convert to Smart Object, so the subsequent adjustments will be applied non-destructively, allowing you to go back and alter the settings if necessary Head to Filter > Camera Raw Filter in the top menu Here we'll use a bunch of adjustments to give the image a pseudo-HDR look to increase the dynamic range and achieve the dream-like appearance The Temperature and Tint sliders are a great place to start to begin introducing the pink and blue colour casts

The exact values will depend on your specific image, but eyeball the result in the preview panel Dramatically decreasing the Highlights and Increasing the Shadows really helps bring out all the details of the image for that flat HDR look Reducing the highlights does take the luminance out of the lights, so bumping up the Whites slightly helps brighten them back up It might be tempting to increase the Clarity on such a detailed image, but decreasing it to between minus 8 and 10 actually works better to bring out the ambience of all the lights Increasing the Dehaze slider to around plus 30 can help bring back some of the contrast lost by adjusting the highlights and shadows

In the menu at the top, choose the icon that represents Split Toning Here we can further enhance the pink-blue theme Send the Saturation slider to max to find the right hue, then bring the saturation back down to fine tune the result I went with a pink-purple in the highlights at 30%, and a deep blue for the shadows with 20% saturation Finally, in the FX panel, add a Vignette with an amount of around -50 and a touch of feathering so it gradually fades out

These Camera Raw adjustments alone have really helped achieve the main visual traits of retrowave or Cyberpunk style art, but there's a few more tweaks that will enhance it further Add a Levels adjustment layer to fine tune the tone of the image Move the shadows end of the slider to around 18-20, then drag the midtones to darken the overall scene to around 065 In the output levels underneath, move in the shadows slider to bring up the black point, giving it more of a slightly washed out look

Click the New layer icon at the bottom of the layer stack, then go to Select > Color Range Choose highlights from the menu, then set the Fuzziness to 0 Bring up the Range to around 220 Fill this selection with white, using either the CMD or CTRL on Windows and Backspace key, or via the Edit > Fill menu Go to Select > Deselect to deactivate the selection

Set the Fill amount to zero by adjusting the slider at the top of the Layers panel, then double click the layer to add an Outer Glow layer style Set the blending mode to Linear Dodge, which will provide a nice vivid glow effect Bump up the opacity to 100% for now to fully see the result Play with the Size and Spread values to achieve a subtle glow around all the lights, without blowing out the luminance too much You can go back and bring down the opacity value to fine tune the result

I ended up with a 25px size, 2% spread and 34% opacity Since bright lights are such an important part of this art style, adding this outer glow illuminates parts of the image with an even brighter glow Set up the Brush tool with a large soft tip, then bring down the Flow value to between 30-40% Sample a vibrant colour from the image and add dabs of colour on a new layer that correspond to the colour of the lights in that part of the image Set the blending mode to Screen and bring the opacity down to around 30%

These colour overlays help add to the ambient glow of the lights, and produce a kind of subtle mist effect Select the Pen tool and begin tracing one of the signs within the scene Click and drag the points to form curves, then ALT+click the end point to remove the bezier handle ready for the next line Hold the CMD or CTRL key on Windows and click on the canvas to reset the Pen for the next path, then continue tracing the rest of the words Temporarily switch back to the Brush tool in order to set it up with a white tip, max hardness and 100% Flow, then in the Brush Settings, decrease the Spacing to zero

Alter the size of the tip in relation to the sign in the photo to roughly the size a neon tube would be, before switching back to the Pen tool With the Pen tool active, hold the CMD key to toggle to the selection tool and draw across all the paths that form the sign outlines Add a new layer, then right click and choose Stroke Choose Brush in the Tool option with Simulate Pressure deselected Now the paths have been stroked, they can be deleted with the backspace key

Double click the layer to add some layer styles to make these white lines look like illuminated neons Begin with a Color Overlay to select the colour of your sign Add an Inner Glow next, with a blend mode of Linear Dodge and white as the fill colour Bump up the opacity while setting up the options Set the Source to Center, then alter the size so the blue colour overlay fades in at the edges

Play with the opacity to balance the overall brightness Add an Outer Glow next, the Linear Dodge setting will already be established, but change the colour to a blue to match the colour of the neon, then alter the size to illuminate the sign 45px worked for the the scale of this image The Outer Glow effect isn't one that can be duplicated, but we can configure the Drop Shadow effect to work in the same way Set it up with a blue hue with Linear Dodge, then reduce the Distance to zero

Bump up the Size of this effect to over 100px to add more ambience to the neon glow The same process can be used to illuminate other signs within the scene that weren't illuminated in real life An easy way to add the same neon effects is to right click on the existing layer and choose Copy Layer Style, then paste the effects onto the new layers With this particular sign, the overhead cables pass in front of it Add a layer mask and use the Line tool with the appropriate width to trace the cables so the neon sits properly in the scene

Neon lights of other colours can also be created by altering the colours of the layer style settings Group all the neon layers by selecting them in the Layers panel with the Shift key, then press CMD+G Add a new layer to create more visual effects Download and install a set of Smoke brushes The ones I use are linked in the description area

Using white, with a low Flow value, paint around the canvas to add mist and fog Add a layer mask and paint within the mask with black using the same brush, to erase parts of the smoke effect so it's not so thick Set the blending mode to Color Dodge, which will interact with all the vibrant colours of the signs Reduce the Fill amount to reduce the vividness, then bring down the opacity to leave a subtle addition of mist to the scene The final result is a really cool cyberpunk inspired photo effect that transforms a street shot into a scene from a dystopian neon-noir story

The blue and pink colour casts help bring in the retrowave theme, while the Camera Raw adjustments give the photograph more of a hyper-realistic appearance Additional neon signs help enhance the cyberpunk vibe, then subtle colour casts and layers of mist give the overall shot a dreary mood If you enjoyed this tutorial a thumbs up would be greatly appreciated to help recommend the video to others Subscribe to my channel to stick around for more, and head over to my Spoon Graphics website to bag yourself loads of free design resources As always thank you very much for watching, and I'll see you in the next one

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