Create a Sunny Glow in Photoshop Elements {and free action}

Over the on the Everyday Samples page I have several actions, some cleaning, some creative and a few finishing (wonder what the heck am I talking about, see my explanation of types of actions). One of the top favorites there used to be the Florida action, one that creates a bright, sunny effect for your picture.

Recently on the Facebook page for Everyday Elements, someone asked me how to create the “creamy glow” layer that is in Florida and if I could make an action that does just that one layer. I said “sure thing” to both questions. So, this tutorial shows how to create a sunny look plus I am giving away FREE action that does it. I named the action Palm Beach, since it’s a by product of the Florida action. Click HERE to download the action.

Step 1: When you have your image open in Photoshop Elements 9 or Photoshop CS5 (or older versions of either), click on the adjustment icon and choose Solid Color.

Step 2: Pick any light, bright, creamy color. I like to choose one that has a hint of pink or peach. You can move your slider to different color

Step 3: Change the blend mode to Overlay.

Your image will be very creamy and bright, too bright.


Step 4: Lower the layer opacity to between 10-20%, to suit your image.

That step may be all you want or need, but here is another way to get a similar effect, using Gradient Map instead.

Step 5: Click on the adjustment layers icon (half black/half white circle in the Layers palette) and choose Gradient Map.

Step 6: When the Gradient Map dialogue box comes up, click on the gradient, regardless of what type comes up, because we are going to change it. If your image looks like an X-ray, click on the Reverse option.

Step 7: Click on ‘More’ and choose Simple.

Step 8: If you want a cool glow, choose the Blue or Cyan options. If you want warm glow, choose red, orange, brown or salmon. If you want a different type of color, click on the little box below the color side of the gradient. The color picker box comes up and choose whatever color you want. Do the same on the other end if you do not want white. (I will elaborate more in the video tutorial below).


Step 9: Again, we have an overly bright, but intense image. Lower the layer opacity to suit.


You can use both layers or just one. I wanted to share both ways so that you can do them when you desire the change for your image, without using an action. However, I also created an action for this effect, should you choose to use it. Palm Beach is free for all and will be added to the Everyday Samples page soon. You can download from this post (click on the action name) or from the Everyday Samples page.

Below is the before/after of the image I used for the tutorial (shot of my oldest son, taken last fall). Notice that it isn’t a huge change, but there is definitely a slight, creamy glow about it. Lovely action/step to use if you want your image to have a nice, sunny look about it.

Something to know about the action…if you run it on an image and do not like the color for that image, click on the color adjustment and the color box will pop out and you can choose another color.

Frequently asked question – can the action work in CS5 also? Yes, 100% yes.


About Amanda

I am passionate about helping others learn how to use their DSLR cameras and editing programs. More information about me can be found at my About page, or by visiting my personal blog.


  1. Thank you for the video tutorial. It was very easy to understand. I will be using this in photo editing, for sure!

  2. I love this action! Thank you so much!

  3. Thank you for sharing this technique! I especially appreciate the written description and the video. I have tried the method on a non-portrait to good effect. Again, thanks for sharing.

  4. Shannon Marie says:

    Delightful, I’ve been working with photoshop for a while now and watched/read loads of tuts but you really made this simple. It was exactly what my photo needed.
    A smile and Thanks Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ

  5. Where is the Palm Beach free action?

  6. can you tell me a name of this photoshop?

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