Neon Portrait Color Effect In Photoshop! [CYBERPUNK Color Grade]


In this new tutorial, you will learn how to make any lighting work and transform it into a futuristic neon portrait color effect in Photoshop!

To follow along with this tutorial, you can use any photo that you have that has intense lighting. You can also download the photo used in this tutorial.

Convert The Photo Into a Smart Object

Right-click on the layer and select Convert to Smart Object.

Note: A Smart Object is a container that can hold one or more layers. It allows you to apply editable adjustments, distortions, filters, and transformations.

Adjust the Brightness of the Portrait

In this tutorial, you will be dealing mostly with Camera Raw Filter under the Filter menu. 

Initially, the Camera Raw was built as a Photoshop plug-in for raw image processing.

In 2013, Photoshop CC officially added Camera Raw as a filter, and a powerful editing tool for file types such as PNG, TIFF, JPEG, and more.

On the Basic tab is where you can adjust the lighting, warmth, and tint. Start with the Contrast where you can drag the slider to the right to make the shadows darker and the highlights brighter.

In Highlights, you can bring in more details on the lighter parts of the image by dragging the slider to the right.

Drag the Shadow slider to the right to also bring back details of the image in the darker areas.

Adjust the Details and Texture of the Portrait

The year 2019 marked the release of the Texture slider as a tool to make the textures on your image stand out.

With this tool, you can accentuate fine details of the skin, fur, hair, and bark of a tree without affecting less-detailed areas. 

For this photo, drag the Texture slider to the right to retain the beautiful texture of the hair.

The Clarity slider adds contrast to edge pixels, and this slider proves that a little goes a long way, so a quick slide to the right is all that you need.

Dehaze is where you can increase or decrease the appearance of haze for atmospheric images where there is a fog, mist, or smoke.

If you find this tool to be helpful for your image, then feel free to adjust it.

Adjust the Saturation of the Portrait

Vibrance is a smart way of adding saturation. It add less saturation to already saturated pixels and skin tone.

In the image, you can see that the red light on the ceiling is already saturated.

When you drag the Vibrance slider to the right it increases the rest of the image without doubling the saturation of the red light.

By dragging the Saturation slider to the right, it will allow you to increase the saturation of all the pixels in your image.

Adjusting the Colors to Your Image

The Split Toning tab is where you can add colors to your shadows and highlights.

To achieve that neon portrait color effect in Photoshop, add colors to the shadows by dragging the Hue slider up to the teal area, and adjust the Saturation slider to the right to give strength to the color.

The Balance slider allows you to decide which you want to be the dominant color: the Highlights or the Shadows.

For this image, increase the range of the teal-tinted shadows by dragging the slider to the left.

Adjust the Neon Portrait Color Effect In Photoshop

Next, proceed to the HSL Adjustments, where you can control the Hue, Saturation, and Luminance(HSL) of an image.

In the HSL Adjustments, you will see sliders for all dominant color ranges from reds to greens, to blues, and magentas.

Under each tab, you can adjust the hue, saturation, and luminosity of each color range just by changing the slider to your preference.

On the Luminance tab, adjust the Reds slider to the right to make the red lights brighter.

If you want to brighten or darken the skin tone, adjust the Oranges slider.

Next, go to the Saturation tab and increase the Oranges, Yellows, Reds, and Blues.

If there are blotchy areas when dramatically increasing the adjustments of the colors, that is mainly due to the JPEG compression of the image.

Since you are working with a JPEG image, you can combat this by going to the Calibration tab. 

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Under the Red Primary, increase the Saturation to the maximum.

Unlike in the HSL Adjustments, bringing the Saturation to the maximum does not create unwanted blotchy areas that can ruin your image.

Then, adjust the Hue and the Saturation under the Blue Primary to achieve an exact teal color.

FX Tab

Under the Post Crop Vignetting, adjusting the Amount slider to the left will darken the edges of the image.

Increase the Highlights to make the white areas pop out through the vignette.

Changing Your Preview Option

If want to keep track of the changes that you have applied onto your image, hold and click the Y icon at the bottom of your Document window to reveal a list of viewing options.

Select Before/After Left/Right to see your original image and the latest image side by side. 

PRO TIP: If you do a quick click on the same icon, you can toggle different viewing options without having to refer to the list.

Just keep on clicking until you end up with a more comfortable preview preference.

To customize your list of preview options, click-and-hold the icon again, and select Preview Preferences to bring out its window.

In the Cycle Preview Modes list, check and uncheck the ones you find unnecessary, or you might never use.

Then, press OK to exit the window and apply the changes.

Now, when you click the same icon, you only cycle through the preview options you checked on the list.

Fine-Tuning the Neon Portrait Color Effect

Working with a Smart Object means you can always come back and tweak the adjustments to improve the image.

Now, it’s time to add the Radial Filter.

Click-and-drag the shape on her face area.

If you hold the Spacebar key, you can move the tool as you create it.

Click on the flyout menu and select Reset Local Correction Settings and increase the Exposure. 

If the Exposure is being applied outside of the circle, invert the filter by going to Effect and select Inside.

Then, you can go back to adjusting the Highlights, Shadows, Contrast, etc.

Next, create another Radial Filter that covers her whole body. Again, click-and-drag the tool from on top of head till you reach her thigh area to create a larger circle.

Scroll down back to Effect, but this time, select Outside

Next, adjust the Sharpness slider by dragging it to the left. By doing this, the edges outside of the larger circle become blurrier compared to the original image.

However, blurring that part of the image may cause it to look too edited or too “Photoshopped”. Bring back the authentic look by going to the Basic adjustments, and under the Effects tab, increase the amount of Grain.

When you’re happy with the overall result, press OK to apply all the changes in the Camera Raw filter.


This lomographic, neon effect, was possible with only ONE tool—the Camera Raw filter.

With this filter, you can experiment and apply dramatic adjustments to your photos that range from a vintage look to a futuristic neon portrait color effect in Photoshop. 

I hope that with this tutorial, you have been acquainted well with what you can do with the Camera Raw filter and you can add it to your Photoshop workflow!

Final Image

Drag The Slider To See Before & After

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