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Make Your Photos More Intense in 12 Easy Steps

Final Image

This is the final image that we’ll be creating. This tutorial aims to show how a few simple steps can add real intensity to your image.

Images Used

Lime Photo

Step 1

Open up a photo of a lime:

Step 2

Start by cutting out the lime. To do this, select it using the lasso tool or pen tool, and then paste your selection onto a new layer.

Then create a new layer beneath your lime cutout layer called ‘background’. Apply a radial gradient ranging from 292C2F to 0F1010. This is the first step to making your photo more intense, by positioning your photo in front of a dark background you’re giving it more contrast, and making the bright colors of your photo stand out more.

Step 3

Now create a new layer below your lime layer and above your background layer called ‘background highlights’. Create a couple of radial gradients ranging from white to transparent behind each piece of lime. Then reduce the opacity of this layer to 40%.

Step 4

Now apply a color overlay to your background highlights layer (color: 83BFDE).

Step 5

Now create a new layer called ‘background shadows’ and apply a black to transparent radial gradient beneath each lime piece, and between the two pieces.

Step 6

Now duplicate your lime photo layer and change the duplicate’s blend mode to ‘hard light’. Reduce it’s layer opacity to 50%. Then duplicate your hard light layer and change the blend mode to ‘soft light’, keeping the opacity at 50%. Then merge down both of your duplicate layers with your original lime layer, by pressing option+e twice.

Step 7

Now go to image>adjustments>hue/saturation and apply the settings shown below:

Step 8

Now go to filter>sharpen>sharpen, to emphasize the details of your lime.

Step 9

Now go to image>adjustments>color balance. Make the adjustments shown below to reduce the green in your photo and give a more yellowy tint to compliment your gray background.

Step 10

Now create a new top layer called ‘burn layer’. Select a large, soft black paintbrush, blend mode: ‘color burn’, hardness: 0%, opacity 10%. Paint over the darker green areas of your limes to bring out the shadows. I reduced my burn layer’s opacity to 50% eventually in order to make the effect a little more subtle.

Step 11

Now create a new layer called ‘orange burn’. You want the edges of the yellow inner part of the lime to burn to a deep orange color. Change your brush color to orange (FF6C00) and use a medium size soft brush to brush around the edges of your yellow area. Then reduce your brush size, and brush even closer to the edge of the yellow, making this area more intense with color.

Finally, be sure to change the blend mode of this layer to ‘color burn’. This will really bring out the orange color of this layer, and won’t let your of your orange brush marks overlap into your dark background.

Step 12

Now create a new layer called ‘white highlights’. Use a white paintbrush to paint in the highlights in the yellow area. Use a very small brush to repeatedly brush over your white edge and thin white lines. Then enlarge your brush and paint over the light areas of your green lime skin. If any of your brush marks go over into your dark background, use your magic wand tool to select outside of your lime shapes, then return to your white highlights layer and hit delete.

Finally, I reduced this layer’s opacity to 40% to make the highlights more subtle and realistic.

And We’re Done.

And there you have it! Very simple photo manipulation, to create a truly intense end result. If you compare the before and after images below, you can see how these easy techniques make a real difference to your images.

Download Source File for this Tutorial

About the Author:

Tom is the founder of PSDFAN. He loves writing tutorials, learning more about design and interacting with the community. On a more interesting note he can also play guitar hero drunk with his teeth.

Leave a comment


  1. Seems like its an orange instead of a Lime, nice job though, seems to bring out the lime.

  2. Sneh says:

    This is an awesome tutorial … makes simple special right? Thnx for sharing :-)

    • Tom says:

      Yep that was the idea. Not everyone has hours to work on complex graphics, sometimes it’s simple, but applicable techniques that are most useful. I’m glad you enjoyed it :)

  3. Great tutorial as always.i like it:)

  4. Tom says:

    Thanks guys!

  5. EP = Easy and practical… good tutorial.. nice job

  6. Tom says:

    Thanks. I’ll try producing some more ‘practical’ tutorials like this one in the near future.

  7. aldrin says:

    great tutorial it’s really impressive

  8. Tom says:


    Eric: Thanks for the feature :)

  9. Css-Magazine says:

    Hmmm amazing colors.

  10. mark says:

    it was better at start

  11. the final image looks much more delicious than first one! :) nice!

  12. Nora Reed says:

    The finished product looks so nice. The yellow color brightens it up so much. The black background is great too.

  13. Tom says:

    Thanks guys! :) I’m glad that you enjoyed this tutorial.

  14. The original looks better – sorry man. Don’t fix it if it aint broke.

  15. Lindsey says:

    The original image is much better than the final. Sorry. But you can actually tell it’s a lime in the original; in the final, the colors are so manipulated to the point where it looks more like an orange than a lime. There are ways to make your photo pop using this method, but not to this intensity.

  16. I agree with the above comment but it is still a great effect for other photos

    especially fashion portraits, the soft and hard light layers really made a photo come to life!

  17. That’s pretty easy stuff but still useful.

  18. Quite nice. I find that modifying the levels of images makes a huge difference in making a distinction between light and dark colours, which in turn makes images seem more striking.

    Nice tutorial though.

  19. Fabian says:

    Have you tried making the original on the white background stand out more? This seems to cut and paste.

  20. What a great piece of photo retouching , it has achieved a 3d feel.

  21. Alex says:

    Bad. The Original looks nice, the final one is ugly. Never seen a lime with yellow inside. Also your technique of cutting out is bad. There should be no round corners. Don’t use the lasso, use the path tool and do it accurately.

  22. dip says:

    Now I like the steps and the tutorial is quite easy to follow, but what I absolutely dislike is that you changed the color of the fruits insides, that should remain green, you should have masked that or changed the color back to green in the last few steps.

  23. huwaw69 says:

    the original is really much better the color of the final image is really not like a lime…

  24. Linda says:

    Kind of looks like one of the new cross breed fruits, exotic and beautiful. Very useful. Thanks

  25. Jasper says:

    sorry, but I like the original shot better… The dark background and shadows are a good edit but I don’t like the color altering/level shifting you do here.

  26. Sarah says:

    hi there,
    i am doing a school project and like your original photo of the limes.
    i am doing a brochure for my mums business and limes are the symbol for teh compnay Citrus Green Gifts. would i have permission to use youtr original lime image in the brochure and on a t-shirt i am making? i will change it by adding a bit of light and enhancing the colour and i will also give reference to where i got the image from.

  27. Sarah says:

    great thanks!

  28. Cean says:

    Mmm! It looks beautiful :D The background makes it stand out~ love the green.

  29. jagdish says:

    Guys who did not like the final result can definitely think of toning down the colors. The ultimate choice, however, would depend on the job you have in hand. I would never think of using the original image in an advertisement job, for instance, since it has subdued colors. How much of color enhancement would be required would depend on your own choice, as also the end product that you are trying to design. But, definitely every raw image needs some improvements, if you want to make use of it in your end product. Good tutorial from the graphics designer point of view.

  30. Lyndsey says:

    I cannot figure out how to do step four! My two, small radial gradients are not showing up at all, or if they do it covers the whole screen. Any ideas on how to fix this? Awesome work though!

  31. Lyndsey says:

    Excuse me, I meant to say step three!

    • Tom says:

      Hey Lyndsey. First of all, are you sure you have you radial gradient tool selected, not your regular linear gradient tool selected? If you have your radial gradient tool, then try experimenting with how much your drag it outwards – too much and you may cover your whole screen, not enough and it may not be very large or show up at all.

      Give me a shout if you’re still struggling and I’d be happy to help.

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