Glitter is a beautiful creation. It adds sparkle and shine to otherwise dull surfaces and is fairly synonymous with holiday cheer. Can you picture a Christmas-themed item that doesn’t have at least a little glitter?
No, you cannot.
Working with glitter can be an absolute nightmare, though. Eventually, you’ll just find glitter everywhere, making it’s sparkly appearance even weeks after using it in some minor project. So, just in time for the holidays, I took one for the team and busted out my extensive glitter collection to create a rainbow of glitter photographs. Abstract, shiny, and mess-free, these images are the perfect solution for sparkly Christmas cards, elegant name plates for holiday meals, or anything else you can think of in need of a little holiday polish.
The magic doesn’t stop there, though! These glitter photos can make an interesting addition to any other photograph to add a little whimsy & wonderment. In this tutorial, I’ll teach you how to use my stock pack and Photoshop’s layers function to add some enchanting textures to otherwise normal images.
To start the tutorial, download the glitter pack colour of your choice at my Etsy Shop. Each stock pack comes with a sharp & a soft version. For the purposes of this tutorial, the soft version will work best.
The colour won’t actually have much impact on the final image, so just choose based on whichever has the most appealing look to you. Keep in mind future projects, as these images are reusable!
Next, open an image of something that needs a little pop of sparkle. I’m using a photo of my dog, Mouse, who is the cutest and fluffiest dog. Let’s make her look as magical as she is in real life!
Step 1: Open the soft glitter image and select the entire canvas (Select → All).
Step 2: Copy the image (Edit → Copy).
Step 3: Open your photo and paste the glitter photo into the canvas (Edit → Paste).
Step 4: Depending on the size of your photo, you may need to adjust the size of the glitter layer. Using the Free Transform function (Edit → Free Transform) drag the corners of the layer while holding down the shift key to keep the aspect ratio natural. Press the “Enter” key when you’re done.
Step 5: In order to make the glitter layer see-through, we need to change the blending mode. On the Layers palette, highlight the glitter layer and look in the top left corner for a drop-down menu. Click on it and select “Overlay.” You can also use “Soft Light,” so play around with the various blending modes until you like the result.
Step 6: The colour of the glitter causes a colour-cast on the base image. This can be interesting in some photos, but for most, you’ll want to get rid of that. The best way to do so is to desaturate the glitter layer. With the glitter layer highlighted in the Layers palette, open the Hue & Saturation editor (Image → Adjustments → Hue/Saturation).
Step 7: Enter a value of -100 for the Saturation line. Press “OK.”
Step 8: Now it’s time to start putting some finishing touches on the photo. We’ll start by adjusting the contrast of the glitter layer. To do so, use the Levels editor (Image → Adjust → Levels).
Step 9: Here you’ll see a histogram of the layer. If you drag the small arrows under the graph, you’ll see how it changes the layer. Play around with the sliders until you achieve a look you like. Press “OK.”
Step 10: The bokeh effect from the glitter layer has created some high-contrast areas in Mouse’s face, which takes away from the photo. Select the glitter layer and select the Eraser tool. Click on the arrow next to the brush and change the Hardness to 0% and select an appropriate Master Diameter for your photo size. Erase the spots you find distracting. Hiding the background layer, you can see where I erased the spots on my image:
Step 11: Flatten the image (Layer → Flatten Image) and Save (File → Save).
And there you have it! My little fluff-butt looks as magical as she acts, surrounded by glitter and happiness. This technique could easily be applied to add a fairy tale mood to almost any photo, from landscapes to portraits, macros to abstracts.