Sparkles can be a fun thing to add to your images when you want to do something a little different. Whether it’s personalising your own greetings cards, making images of your kids more magical, or whether you just like sparkles, we’ll show you a fun and quick way to put the shimmer in your snapshots.
How to Add Glorious Sparkles to a Photo (With a Photoshop Action)
If you’d like to follow the tutorial using the same images, you can download them for free, here:
It’s always wise to read the help document that comes with any action, but the key points you’ll need to remember in order for the action to work properly are:
- Make sure your image is in 8-bit RGB mode
- Create a layer named ‘brush’ in lowercase, to brush over
If you’re new to actions, you’ll first need to load the actions into Photoshop. Go to the Actions Panel in Photoshop. If it’s not visible, select Window > Actions to display it. To install an action, download the .ATN file, open the Actions Panel in Photoshop and select Load Actions from the dropdown. Navigate to the .ATN file and select Load. The actions will then be available for you to use.
The Super Simple Way
Let’s take it easy to start. Here’s our first example starting image:
When you’ve created your brush layer, brush over where you’d like the sparkles to appear. The colours you choose will be the colour of the glitter (plus white) so I’ve chosen colours from the bird’s plumage to compliment it.
I’ve included a couple of low opacity patches behind the bird, so the glitter doesn’t just end with the bird’s tail. Now we run the action.
The ‘Give it More Effort’ Way
Now let’s make something a bit more sophisticated. Here’s our starter:
This time I’m going to try it on a black and white image because I think the colours will pop better. If you use a black and white photograph, you still need to make sure the image mode is set to RGB and not Greyscale
Select colours that are darker than you want the glitter to be—pastels may look nice but they’ll turn out mostly white.
Run the Action
You can see that the action is made up of many layers, those then grouped together appropriately. By changing these, we can better control the effect of the action.
Reduce the smaller white speckles by reducing the opacity of Sparkles_Set 2, this will make it a little softer.
Next, reduce the opacity of the Wide Glow layer. This will tone down the colours so that they’re not quite so garish.
You can reduce Blur Base ’too, it’ll take some of the white glow out of the sparkles.
Finally, you’ll notice there’s a Black Tint layer. It’s set to 0% opacity but you can increase that to take some of the white glow from around the edges. It’ll depend on the image you’re using as to whether you want to do that.
Make some contrast and brightness adjustments across your whole image, and you’re done!
Try Making Your Own Sparkles
If you like the idea of making your own glitter/sparkle effect, then check out this great tutorial from Marko Kožokar: How to Create a Sparkling Action in Adobe Photoshop.
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