Top 10 Varied Uses of The Lens Flare Effect

Top 10 Varied Uses of The Lens Flare Effect
  • SumoMe

For anyone with an interest in graphic design, photography or the like, Photoshop offers a limitless treasure chest (or a Pandora’s Box, depending on your opinion) of tools and functions to make, well, literally anything. While that concept can be daunting, the superpower that makes Photoshop so amazing is its limitless scalability. By that, I mean that there are usually about 100 ways to pull off a certain effect within Photoshop. While some amazing effects require some practice and even mastery, a bevy of beautiful effects are only a click or two away. One of these primary effects is the Lens Flare.

While very easy to utilize (simply go to the top of the window and select Filters>Render>Lens Flare to insert one into an image), the Lens Flare tool is one of the most versatile features included in the Photoshop software. With a limitless range of uses, the Lens Flare has a range of variable features that invites designers to wave their creative flag.

Just to give an idea of the fun that can be had with the Lens Flare tool, we’ve put together the follow examples that show it in action. These are just scratching the surface of what can be done, so feel free to add your own suggestions in the comments!

The Evil Eye by MichaelPFerrari

The Evil Eye By

Part of the Lens Flares appeal is that, on the surface, it may appear to be just a simple circle of light; however, a closer look reveals layers of subtle refraction, making it perfect for adding a bit of life to any eye. Here, the artist took a little more of a direct approach, using the natural glow of the Lens Flare to create to evil, menacing eyes of a beast that’s hiding in the smoke of the ruins. The Lens Flare serves as a simple way to add life (and some menace) to those monstrous orbs.

Laser Bubbles by MichaelPFerrari

Laser Bubbles

The perfect, circular shape of the Lens Flare makes it great for adding a soft, subtle graphic to any background. Here, the artist used the Lens Flare as a sort of “laser bubble” but taking the Lens Flare and altering its hue to match the borders, giving the whole thing a futuristic look.

Motion Lasers by

Motion Lasers

Just because Lens Flares are naturally spherical doesn’t mean they need to stay that way. By accompanying the Lens Flare with the warp tool, and artist can make vibrant lasers in any shape, much like in these images that use the lasers to show and exaggerate the motions of the subject.

Perceived Depth by

Perceived Depth

Lens Flares are a staple in many advertisements these days. Again, thanks to their versatility, there’s a number of ways they can greatly enhance an image. For instance, in this movie poster, the Lens Flare is almost centered. Not only does it draw the viewers’ gaze inward, it also suggests a depth within the image, as if that glowing light is coming from thousands of miles within the poster. When used properly, tools like the Lens Flare can go a long way in forcing the viewer to see things a certain way.

Details by Leona’s Photoshop Blog


It is said that “The Devil is in the Details” and nowhere is that more true than in graphic design. The Lens Flare tool is just another way to enhance those details, adding life to any photograph. In this instance, notice how it add just that little extra bit of life to the wine glass, make the image seem less flat and more real.

Time Tunnel by

Time Tunnel

Now we’re getting into some of the more complex, fun ways to use the Lens Flare! Thanks to its “spacey” nature, the Lens Flare is a great tool to use for making abstract, futuristic designs and graphics, such as this elaborate time tunnel.

Worlds Collide! by Smashing

Worlds Collide!

The natural glow of the Lens Flare makes it great for explosions, as shown in the epic image of the an asteroid crashing into Earth. By using the Lens Flare at the point of collision, the artist is able to not only emphasize the massive impact, but he’s able to it in a very simple yet realistic way that doesn’t distract from the rest of the image.

Earth Explosion by

Earth Explosion

Moving right along with the Armageddon theme, let’s take a look at a different way to use the Lens Flare to show Earth’s demise (for those keeping track, this makes three pieces now, including the “Evil Eyes.” I may need to talk to someone about our Armageddon obsession). In this piece, the flare is being used as a way to show off the explosion of the Earth, giving it extra “pop” one would expect from such a thing.

Triangle by Tutorial9


After all that destruction, how about moving to a more tranquil note? This “Triforce”-like piece uses the Lens Flare in a very subtle, soothing way, giving the central image a smooth, easy glow that helps relax the viewer.

Making Fun of J.J. Abrams movies on

Making Fun of J.J. Abrams movies

Anybody who has seen Star Trek, Mission: Impossible III or Super 8 are already very familiar with the Lens Flare, as it’s a favorite trick of the films’ director, J.J. Abrams. As the Internet is wont to do, it’s created countless memes making fun of the filmmaker’s use of the tool. It may not be the most creative use for the tool, but still a lot of fun!

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James Adams

James Adams

This article has been written by James Adams on behalf of CartridgeSave, a British supplier of HP printer inks and other printing products. James spends most of his time maintaining the blog and surfing the net, where he’s interested in all things design and web related.
James Adams

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  • Volodymyr

    looks like 10 more reasons NOT to use The Lens Flare Effect (:


    Creative Director Reply:

    All are not bad there is some here I can use as a starting point and build on it.


    James Adams Reply:

    Haha, well the lens flare is quite a controversial design effect, isn’t it? You either love it or you hate it, it seems. Either way, it’s still a useful technique to know about.


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