How to Create Rainbow Effect on Your Photos Using Photoshop

Screenshot image from the rainbow effect video by Jessica Kobeissi

One of today’s most popular photography trends is the rainbow effect on portraits. Some of us may feel it’s overused and gimmicky, but it’s most likely going to stick around for a bit longer. If you haven’t done this before and want to see what it can do for your portrait photography, this quick video tutorial by Jessica Kobeissi is worth a try.

You can actually add a rainbow effect or color cast as you shoot with a prism placed over your lens or even an old CD reflected on your subject. However, if you don’t have one or you just want to try it out first, this Photoshop trick is a quick fix. Watch Jessica do it in her video tutorial below.

So, basically, Jessica’s trick is to use a photo of a rainbow (against a dark and plain background) or a rainbow glare as a texture. The photo is used as a texture, applying it as a mask over the portrait. You can then experiment with different blending options over this layer to see what suits your portrait. For Jessica, her go-to blending mode is Screen, which creates a soft effect with the rainbow lights. Then, convert this layer into a mask so it blends better over your portrait. There will be some edges of the rainbow layer that needs cleaning up. For this, simply use the Brush Tool with a large enough Soft Round brush preset to sort of airbrush the dark edges away.

Now, that’s just one of Jessica’s tricks for this video tutorial. Another is to create the rainbow layer from scratch by using the Brush Tool. On a new layer over your portrait, make streaks of different colors side by side, much like airbrushing your own rainbow colors. You can also do this with the Gradient Fill, which you can adjust to your liking. Then, convert into a mask as with the first trick. To finish, experiment with opacities and delete the areas of the rainbow mask that you don’t want.

Check out Jessica Kobeissi’s YouTube channel for more of her photography tutorials.