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Add that sparkly effect to your photos!

Friday, September 03, 2010
Hello! (: I realised that the few times I did sparkly photos, I would get questions asking how I did them and every time all I can answer is: Photoshop!


The sparkly effects in this photo will look very familiar to the one below, because I reused the sparkly image!

Anyway this tutorial is fairly basic, meaning I'm assuming you have almost zero knowledge of Photoshop, such as the concept of layers and Free Transform (Ctrl-T/Command-T). So if you already know some stuff this might be boring.
Also there are alternative ways to doing this such as using the Magic Wand, duplicating/merging layers etc, but like I said this is for really basic Photoshop so bear with me!

Oh and do note that I am using a Macintosh and as such my shortcuts and etc may differ slightly from that on Windows.

Alright so first open the base image you want to add the sparkly effects to (left) and a sparkly image (Right).

For the sparkly image I know a website which has the BEST ones ever but I don't want to share hahaha, but basically you can just Google something like "galaxies" or "stars" or even "sparkly image". You can use almost anything, such as the image of sequins/lights on the bottom of the very first photo at the top of my post.

As for the photo I'm using, it's one of the photos from my selling post which I'm gonna do soon! :D And since I was gonna be staring at my face for the length of this tutorial, obviously I wanted one I liked hahaha. SO TOO BAD YOU HAVE TO STARE AT MY FACE TOO teehee.

#1. Drag the sparkly image over the desired base image. I don't know if Windows allows for dragging of images or not, but if they don't, you can copy-paste the whole photo over.

As you can see, my base image is a lot larger than the sparkly image (16.7% zoom vs 66.7%) so when dragged over the sparkly one is really small.

AT ANY TIME IF YOU SCREWED UP, CLICK CTRL-Z/COMMAND-Z. This is basically the Undo. You can Undo continuously by clicking Shift-Ctrl/Command-Z till desired action has been reversed.
If you click Ctrl-Z/Command Z (Undo) then Ctrl-Z/Command-Z again without the Shift, it will Undo your previous Undo a.k.a it will Redo the action.

#2. Use Free Transform to edit the sparkly image layer. For Windows, use Ctrl-T and for Macs, use Command-T. Alternatively you can click Edit -> Free Transform.

Here I will try to introduce the concept of layers in Photoshop:

On the right of the screenshot you can see the middle box titled "Layers", in which there are 2 layers.

One is my base image, which is by default called the Background, and the image I dragged over, which by default is called Layer 1.

The amazing thing about Photoshop is that whatever you do on one layer, will NOT affect any other layer. This is great because you can see how the whole thing will look like and edit each layer separately as and when you feel like it, simply by clicking on the layer you want to edit.

Hence currently I'm on Layer 1, and whatever I do to my sparkly image will not affect my base image (mah face).

Anyway, my sparkly image is too small and I want to change the orientation for a better fit. In Free Transform mode, the layer (in this case it consists only of the small sparkly image) will have the 8 points around it from which you can drag/push to resize the image.

#3. Right click the layer and select Rotate CW (Clockwise). Or CCW, it really won't matter. Alternatively, you can simply rotate the image by using the cursor (move it out of the boxed up part; a rounded arrow appears).

So here my sparkly image has been rotated and moved to the top left corner.
I'm now enlarging it. If you want to enlarge it while keeping the constraints (eg. a square shape to always remain a square, just larger/smaller), press Shift as you drag one corner.

For Photoshop it doesn't matter if you enlarge it beyond the boundaries of the frame (meaning it disappears/gets cut out at the sides). You can just drag the image left/right/up/down to frame only whatever part you want.

I mean for my image above, if I press Shift (to maintain the proportions it currently has), the sides will clearly be cut off.
I chose to stretch it without Shift. It won't matter if the image looks distorted since you just want the sparkly-ness.

Thus here the sparkly layer completely covers my base image, which can't be seen. You don't need the original sparkly image anymore so I closed the other window.

#4. Right-click on Layer 1 in the right middle box and select Blending Options.

#5. Alter the Opacity of the Layer 1 however you wish (Remember that the base image isn't affected! Awesome!). Here I lowered it to 56%.

Here I'm going to use the Eraser tool (little square in your tools palette) to erase some parts of Layer 1 so that my base image can be seen more clearly.

However I don't want to use a normal circular shape (found under Basic Brushes) for my Eraser because it might look very jarring if the sparkly-ness doesn't look sorta blended into the base image.

#6. To change the shape of the Eraser, click on the little arrow on the top right, which will open a drop down menu of brushes. I picked Natural Brushes because they look a bit like paintbrush strokes.

This is the brush I chose. Change the size of the brush according to however big you want it to be.
#7. Lower the Opacity of your eraser. Same reason; so that it will be less jarring.

Look at the right and left sides of my face -> jagged edges of parts that are light grey. Those are the parts I erased, which I purposely made more obvious so that it can be seen.

If you compare my face here and in the previous photo, it can be seen more clearly here because I erased some of the sparkly image that was over it.

For the sake of this tutorial I'm adding a 2nd sparkly image over it, which I've just opened on the right.

#8. Same as just now; drag/copy the layer over. It will by default be named Layer 2, and will be the top layer.
The order of layers on the right now will be Layer 2, Layer 1 and Background.

#9. Free Transform (Ctrl-T/Command-T) if needed/till desired size/orientation. For mine I only enlarged it slightly because I only want the parts beside my head to end up pinkish.

However I want it to be the layer below the first blue-ish sparkles (meaning the pink one will be less visible).

#10. In the middle box on the right, drag Layer 2 below Layer 1. The sequence will become Layer 1, Layer 2 and Background.

#11. Right-click Layer 2 and select Blending Options to edit it if desired. I did not bother because the colours are already muted since Layer 1 is over it. (Layer 1 is only 56% opaque remember?)

#12. Use the Eraser if desired. Here I also did not bother changing to the brushstroke type (found under Natural Brushes) because I'm following the shape of my arm which is a clear and defined line.

#13. I decided to extend the pink layer to the right side as well.

You can do this by Free Transform (Ctrl-T/Command T) + Erasing again.
You can right-click Layer 2 and select Duplicate Layer. By default it will be called Layer 2 Copy. The sequence of layers will now be Layer 1, Layer 2 Copy, Layer 2 and Background.
Move the pink part over to the right side (remember to be in Layer 2 Copy when you do this).

In the screenshot above you don't see it because I decided to merge the two Layer 2s (Ctrl-E/Command-E).

#14. Here I chose to use the Smudge Tool to even out some gaps between the pink part and my head. The Smudger will only be smudging Layer 2, but it will look even enough when overlapping my base image (Background).

This isn't a completed piece lah. As in, I don't think it looks very nice haha and you can edit/add more stuff as desired, but this is just to roughly teach HOW it can be done (:

I actually think this looks better. I did this by clicking the little eye on the left side of Layer 2, which will render it Invisible.
(Shown by the absence of the eye in the part I circled in red.)
This allows me to see how my overall image would look like by adding/omitting certain layers!

The other part I circled is to show how in Layer 1 my Eraser brush strokes are actually obvious, but it won't matter since Layer 2 will be under it (when I turn it back to Visible) and will sort of neutralise it.

Here's the final image! Haha it's quite obvious that I did not erase any of the sparkly-ness on the bottom part at all.

If you look carefully you can see some parts where the Erasing (e.g. just above my head there's a small gap lacking pink) or Overlapping of Layers (the edges of the flower in my hair) is obvious, but overall it won't really matter.

I hope this wasn't too wordy and boring to get through! It's actually quite simple really, but I tried to break it down as much as I could. I don't know if I made it seem more complex in the process, or if everyone thinks I'm a retard for trying to explain something simple haha.
16 comments on "Add that sparkly effect to your photos!"
  1. Very informative!

    Nang u :) Do chk out my latest post on Shopping & Italian Food In Bangkok & don't forget to nang me too!

    Have a good weekend!

  2. Anonymous11:51 AM

    hahaha i dont use photoshop but i do read your blog when i run out of things to do online [ in a good way ] and its pretty entertaining :) i like the way you blog. yes i know this is a pretty pointless comment but hey. ITS A GOOD ONE :D

  3. Christina3:48 PM

    wow how long did you take to write this post...

  4. Anonymous3:56 PM

    wow you are turning pro. as far as blogging is concerned.

  5. Blackswan: Haha glad it was useful! Thanks! (:

    Anonymous: Well yep still a good comment haha thanks!!!

    Christina: Hahahaha quite a while, but Alaric was just playing Starcraft2 the entire time and ignoring me so oh well!

    Anonymous: Lol doing a tutorial is pro blogging? Thanks anw!

  6. NOT BAD NOT BADDDD! i was wondering how you did it hahaha

  7. Anonymous3:14 AM

    can you do one with a pic of you wearing a bra or something? then the background is filled with stars.

  8. Anonymous9:52 PM

    WTF?? Who r u to ask Sophie to post in bra? Free porn issit? Pervert!!

  9. Anonymous10:26 PM

    was the photoshop program downloaded somewhere? able to share if yes?

  10. Potty: Haha I thought your Photoshop skills quite zai? Like the fayfey pictures/layout always very cute!

    Anonymous: -_-

    Anonymous: Haha yeah got tons of other blogs he can go see if that's what he's looking for.

    Anonymous: Photoshop can't be downloaded :/ Except maybe from forums where they've been hacked, illegally uploaded etc. It's a very expensive program but you can get it like for e.g. when you buy a Mac with NUS it comes with Free Microsoft Office & Photoshop. I got mine from a friend who bought from NUS as mentioned previously, and the cd can be uploaded for up to 3 coms.

  11. Anonymous10:19 PM

    hey when r u selling this top, on which site are you selling it?

  12. Anonymous4:56 AM

    where do you get those pictures that you put on top ?

  13. Anonymous10:56 PM

    Hi there! may i know how did you make the "1990" header thing at the top? did you use photoshop? thanks!

  14. Anonymous11:00 PM

    Hello!! I'd love it if you can give us a tutorial on the "1990" header thing at the top! Thank you!! :)

  15. Anonymous: Hey dear my friend already did a tutorial on it once before, here it is (:

  16. Anonymous11:55 PM

    oh! ok thank you very much! ^^