Create A Golden Sunrise With Photoshop Solid Colors – Part 1

I’m going to turn a rather colorless city skyline into a bright orange morning sunrise scene by adding effects to show the sun gleaming off the buildings.

One of the most effective tricks in this tutorial is that of adjusting the Exposure to create a bright baseline on the horizon, as if the sunrise were just beginning.

Before and After

Here are the ‘before and after’ photos of the tutorial we are about to go through.



Tools Used

The primary tools used in this tutorial are:

  • Solid Color Adjustment Layer
  • Exposure Adjustment Layer
  • Layer Masks
  • Gradient Tool


The photo I will be using is this tutorial is located HERE. If you have a photo of your own you would like to use, that’s fine too. For best results, try to choose a photo where the skyline starts (more or less) at the center of the photo.

Tutorial Tip – Introduction to Adjustment Layers

In the majority of my tutorials, I use Adjustment Layers to apply an effect to the image. Applying an Adjustment Layer is like adding another sheet of paper over the top of your image, which you can work with whilst keeping the original image beneath it.

When you create an Adjustment Layer, a Layer Mask is automatically created for your Adjustment Layer. The Layer Mask allows you to SUBTRACT or REMOVE the effect you apply on the Adjustment Layer and show the original image behind your Adjustment Layer.

For example, if I created an Adjustment Layer with a black and white image effect, I could paint on the Layer Mask using a solid Brush and the color image behind that Layer would show in the places where I paint. 

I will discuss Layer Masks further in another tutorial, however if you would like to read more about them now, you can find information HERE.

OK, let’s get started!

Applying the Golden Sunrise – Solid Color

The first step in this tutorial is to create that ‘golden sunrise’ look by adjusting the overall color of the photo. To do this, we’re going to use an Adjustment Layer as mentioned previously.

Firstly, click on “New Adjustment Layer” (Below your “layers” panel): 

Now click on “Solid Color”

Now you will be asked to select the color for your Solid Color. Select a light, bright orange color as shown below.

In your Layers Pallet (which should be toward the right-hand side of your screen) you should now see two layers. One of the layers is for your original layer and the other is for the Adjustment Layer that you have just created.

Your Image will be completely orange at the moment because you have basically slapped a big sheet of orange paper on top of it, so next we’ll need to change the way the color is applied. To do this, we’re going to change the Blending Mode and the Opacity of the layer.

Change the Blending Mode to Multiply and the Opacity to about 30%, as shown below.

Your image should now look something like this:

That’s it for the Solid Color step: we’ve added a nice orange/golden tinge to the photo for us to work with.

Save your file as a PSD file so we can resume to this image in the next tutorial.

In the next tutorial we will be adjusting the exposure settings of the image to create a nice sunrise effect and to add reflections on the side of the buildings.

Thanks for following.

– Sam


One thought on “Create A Golden Sunrise With Photoshop Solid Colors – Part 1

  1. Can’t find Part 2. The newsletter I got today had part of it and said that I should go to Worldstart for the rest of it. I did, but couldn’t find it. Please make it available, as I’m very interested in it. Thanks.

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