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Design

How to Add Glorious Sparkles to a Photo (With a Photoshop Action)

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Difficulty:BeginnerLength:ShortLanguages:

Sparkles can be a fun thing to add to your images when you want to do something a little different. Whether it's personalizing 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.

What You Will Learn in This Photoshop Action Tutorial

  • How to add glitter to a photo in Photoshop
  • How to add sparkles to a photo in an easy way
  • How to add sparkles to a photo using more editing options
  • How to create your own effect to put glitter on photos

Tutorial Assets

In this tutorial, I'll be demonstrating Sparkle Photoshop Action by Sevenstyles, which you can find as part of Envato Elements' great collection of Photoshop actions. If you'd like to follow the tutorial using the same images, you can download them for free, here:

Getting Started With Photoshop Actions

Before we jump into how to add glitter to a photo in Photoshop, it's always wise to read the help document that comes with any action. 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.

Check this useful resources if you've got more questions:

How to Add Sparkles to a Photo: The Super Simple Way

First, we'll learn how to add sparkles to pictures the easiest way. Here's our first example starting image:

bird
Bird image I'll use as our first example

When you've created your brush layer, brush over where you’d like the sparkles to appear to put glitter on photos. The colors you choose will be the color of the glitter (plus white), so I’ve chosen colors from the hummingbird’s plumage to complement it.

brush over
Brush on your image in the colors you want the glitter to be

I’ve included a couple of low-opacity patches behind the bird, so the glitter doesn’t just end with the hummingbird’s tail. Now we run the glitter action and see the result:

after action
After the action has finished running, you'll see glitter where your brush marks were

How to Add Sparkles to a Photo: The "Give it More Effort" Way

Next up, we'll learn how to add sparkles to pictures following more editing options in Photoshop. We want to put glitter on photos and make something a bit more sophisticated. Here's our starter:

dancers
This image of three dancers in black and white is an interesting one to try

This time, I’m going to try it on a black and white image because I think the colors 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.

To put glitter on photos, select colors that are darker than you want the glitter to be—pastels may look nice, but they’ll turn out mostly white.

brush on
I've brushed on three colors which should look nice together

Run the Glitter Action

action layers
The action is made up of many layers

You can see that the glitter action is made up of many layers, now grouped together appropriately. By changing these, we can better control the effect of the action.

Make Adjustments

Reduce the smaller white speckles by reducing the opacity of Sparkles_Set 2. This will make it a little softer.

Reduce the glitter
Reduce some of the particle options

Next, reduce the opacity of the Wide Glow layer. This will tone down the colors so that they’re not quite so garish.

wide glow
Tone down the glow

You can reduce the Blur Base too—it’ll take some of the white glow out of the sparkles.

Finish Up

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.

black tint
Increase Black Tint to darken edges

Make some contrast and brightness adjustments across your whole image, and you're done! Now you know how to add glitter to a photo in Photoshop!

finished image
Finished Image

Try Making Your Own Sparkles

Have you heard of the KiraKira effect in Photoshop? This addictive effect started as an app to add sparkle and glitter to pictures and took Instagram by storm. Now you can also learn how to create your own KiraKira effect in Photoshop!

If you liked the tutorial on how to add sparkles to pictures, then I think you'll like the idea of making your own glitter/sparkle effect. You can do it by following this great tutorial:

You can also see how to do your own sparkle effect in our video tutorial below. And don't forget to check out our Envato Tuts+ YouTube channel to watch even more fantastic videos! 

Discover More Awesome Sparkling Tutorials

Would you like more tutorials on how to add sparkles to pictures? Then you might like these, too:

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