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Design

How to Create a Color Dust Action in Adobe Photoshop

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Difficulty:IntermediateLength:LongLanguages:
Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

In this tutorial, I'll show you how to create a color dust explosion effect on any photo. At the end of the tutorial, you'll have an action which will automate the entire process with a single click.

I'll try to explain everything in much detail so that everyone can follow along, even if this is your first time with Photoshop.

The action we'll be creating is part of the Color Dust Photoshop Action. Feel free to gather more inspiration from the amazing Photoshop Actions on GraphicRiver. You can also check out the Animated Color Dust Photoshop Action which will create an animated GIF from your image.

Animated Color Dust Photoshop Action

The complete action has the following additional features: 

  • Greater control over dust elements.
  • Three predefined background options.
  • Ten preset color looks and additional color adjustments.
  • Additional dust elements are also included.
  • Animated version contains options to generate animated GIF images with variable frame rates and sizes.

Here, we'll only create the static color dust effect and apply the default color look.

Tutorial Assets

The following resources are needed for the tutorial:

1. How to Set Up Your Document

Step 1

First, open the photo on which you want to work. To open your photo, go to File > Open, choose your photo, and click Open. Now, before we get started, we need to check a few things:

  1. Your photo should be in RGB Color mode and 8 Bits/Channel. To check this, go to Image > Mode.
  2. Your photo should be the Background layer. If it is not, go to Layer > New > Background from Layer.
  3. Click the fly-out list of the Layers panel and click Panel Options.... Make sure that both Use Default Masks on Fill Layers and Add "copy" to Copied Layers and Groups are checked.
Color Dust photoshop action document pre-requirements

Step 2

The effect works best with images of size 2500–4000 px width. If your image is smaller, increase it by going to Image > Image Size. You can always reduce it to your original size after the effect has been applied.

Current image is set to a width of 3500 px

2. How to Load the Brushes

Step 1

Go to Edit > Presets > Preset Manager... In the Preset Manager window, select Preset Type: Brushes and click Load...

Browse and select the Color Dust Brushes.atn file that came with the downloadable attachment. Then, click Done.

Load Color Dust Brushes

Step 2

Press B on the keyboard to select the Brush Tool. Make sure both Opacity and Flow are set to 100%.

Set both brush opacity and flow to 100 percent

3. How to Make the Effect Area Layers

Add a New Layer above the Background layer. Name the new layer subject.

Now, make a Selection around your main subject. You can also choose the Brush Tool (B) and brush over your photo using a Hard Round Brush.

Select your subject area and fill it with color

4. How to Start Recording the Action

Step 1

Now, let's start preparing the base for our action. We'll put it in a separate set for easier management. 

Go to Window > Actions or press F9 on the keyboard to open up the Actions panel. Then, click the Create new set icon, name the set Color Dust Photoshop Action, and click OK. We'll place the action inside this set.

Create a new set called Color Dust Photoshop Action

Step 2

Click the Create new action icon and name it Color Dust.

Click Record to start recording all the subsequent steps in Photoshop.

Create a new action called Color Dust and start recording

From this point onwards, everything you do will be recorded, so please be careful and keep an eye on the Actions panel. If you make a mistake, click the Stop playing/recording icon, and Delete the unnecessary step from the Color Dust action. Then click the Begin recording icon again to continue. The last thing you'd want is to have a messy action filled with unwanted steps.

5. How to Create the Background

Step 1

Select the Background layer, and hide the subject layer by toggling the eyeball icon off. Then, press D on the keyboard to reset swatches.

Select the Background layer and hide the subject layer

Step 2

Go to Layer > New Fill Layer > Solid Color... Name it BG Color, enter the hex color code #ffffff, and click OK.

Create a Solid Color Fill layer with hex color code ffffff

Step 3

Press Control-G to add the BG Color layer in a new Group. Then, go to Layer > Rename Group... and rename the group Color Dust. We'll add all our further layers into this group to keep everything organized.

Add layers into the Color Dust group

Step 4

Select the subject layer, right-click on the layer thumbnail, and select Select Pixels. Then select the Background layer and press Control-J to Copy the selection into a New Layer.

Create a New Layer, rename it Base Image, and drag it above the BG Color layer (inside the Color Dust group).

Create the Base Image layer and re-position it

Step 5

Create a New Layer and name it temp-sub.

Again, select the subject layer, right-click on the layer thumbnail, and select Select Pixels. Go to Select > Modify > Smooth..., enter Sample Radius: 50 pixels and click OK.

Then, select the temp-sub layer and press Alt-Delete or to Fill the selection with the Foreground Color.

Press Control-D to deselect the current selection.

Hide the temp-sub layer by toggling the eyeball icon off.

Select pixels from the subject layer and smooth by 50 pixels

6. How to Create the Emitter Guide Layers

Step 1

Select the Base Image layer. Create a New Layer and name it emitter-1

Select the temp-sub layer, right-click on the layer thumbnail, and select Select Pixels.

Select the emitter-1 layer. Press M on the keyboard to select the Rectangular Marquee Tool. Then, right-click on the image and select Make Work Path.... Enter Tolerance: 3.0 pixels and click OK.

Make work path from selection with tolerance 3 pixels

Step 2

Press B on the keyboard to select the Brush Tool. Expand the brush selector drop-down menu and select the br-color-dust-emitter-1 brush. Make sure both the Opacity and Flow are set to 100%.

Select the br-color-dust-emitter-1 brush

Step 3

Press P on the keyboard to select the Pen Tool.

Then, right-click on the image and select Stroke Path... Make sure Simulate Pressure is not checked. Click OK.

Again, right-click on the image with the Pen Tool and select Delete Path.

Stroke path without Simulate Pressure

Step 4

Now, your image should look like below.

Image with emitter-1

Hide the emitter-1 layer by toggling the eyeball icon off.

Step 5

Create a New Layer and name it emitter-2.

Select the temp-sub layer, right-click on the layer thumbnail, and select Select Pixels.

Select the emitter-2 layer and go to Select > Transform Selection.

Keep Reference point location at Center, enter Width: 50%Height: 1%, and click the Tick button on the top toolbar or press Enter to confirm.

Scale the selection with width 50 percent and height 1 percent

Step 6

Press M on the keyboard to select the Rectangular Marquee Tool. Then, right-click on the image and select Make Work Path.... Enter Tolerance: 3.0 pixels and click OK.

Press B on the keyboard to select the Brush Tool. Expand the brush selector drop-down menu and select the br-color-dust-emitter-2 brush. Make sure both the Opacity and Flow are set to 100%.

Select the br-color-dust-emitter-2 brush

Step 7

Now Stroke the path with the selected brush. Your image should look like below.

Image with emitter-2

Hide the emitter-2 layer by toggling the eyeball icon off.

Step 8

Create a New Layer and name it emitter-3.

Select the temp-sub layer, right-click on the layer thumbnail, and select Select Pixels.

Select the emitter-3 layer and go to Select > Transform Selection. Keep Reference point location at Top-Right, enter Width: 40%Height: 40%, and click the Tick button on the top toolbar or press Enter to confirm.

Scale the selection

Again, go to Select > Transform Selection.

Keep Reference point location at Bottom-Left, enter Width: 1%Height: 1%, and click the Tick button on the top toolbar or press Enter to confirm.

Scale the selection again

Step 9

Make a path from the selection and Stroke it with the selected brush. Your image should look like below.

Image with emitter-3

Hide the emitter-3 layer by toggling the eyeball icon off.

Step 10

Create a New Layer and name it emitter-4.

Select the temp-sub layer, right-click on the layer thumbnail, and select Select Pixels.

Select the emitter-4 layer and go to Select > Transform Selection.

Keep Reference point location at Bottom-Left, enter Width: 30%Height: 30%, and click the Tick button on the top toolbar or press Enter to confirm.

Scale the selection with width 30 percent height 30 percent

Again, go to Select > Transform Selection.

Keep Reference point location at Top-Right, enter Width: 1%Height: 1%, and click the Tick button on the top toolbar or press Enter to confirm.

Scale the selection with width 1 percent height 1 percent

Step 11

Make a path from the selection and Stroke it with the selected brush. Your image should look like below.

Image with emitter-4

Hide the emitter-4 layer by toggling the eyeball icon off.

Step 12

Create a New Layer and name it emitter-5.

Select the temp-sub layer, right-click on the layer thumbnail, and select Select Pixels.

Select the emitter-5 layer and go to Select > Transform Selection.

Keep Reference point location at Bottom-Right, enter Width: 30%Height: 30%, and click the Tick button on the top toolbar or press Enter to confirm.

Scale the selection with width 30 percent height 30 percent

Again, go to Select > Transform Selection.

Keep Reference point location at Top-Left, enter Width: 1%Height: 1%, and click the Tick button on the top toolbar or press Enter to confirm.

Scale the selection with width 1 percent height 1 percent

Step 13

Make a path from the selection and Stroke it with the selected brush. Your image should look like below.

Image with emitter-5

Hide the emitter-5 layer by toggling the eyeball icon off.

Step 14

Create a New Layer and name it emitter-6.

Select the temp-sub layer, right-click on the layer thumbnail, and select Select Pixels.

Select the emitter-6 layer and go to Select > Transform Selection.

Keep Reference point location at Top-Left, enter Width: 40%Height: 40%, and click the Tick button on the top toolbar or press Enter to confirm.

Scale the selection with width 40 percent height 40 percent

Again, go to Select > Transform Selection.

Keep Reference point location at Bottom-Right, enter Width: 1%Height: 1%, and click the Tick button on the top toolbar or press Enter to confirm.

Scale the selection with width 1 percent height 1 percent

Step 15

Again, make a path from the selection and Stroke it with the selected brush. Your image should look like below.

Image with emitter-6

Hide the emitter-6 layer by toggling the eyeball icon off.

Step 16

Select the emitter-1 layer. Hold Shift and select the emitter-6 layer. Press Control-J to Duplicate all selected layers.

Show the emitter-1 copyemitter-2 copyemitter-3 copyemitter-4 copyemitter-5 copy and emitter-6 copy by toggling the eyeball icons on.

Show the copies of the emitter layers

Step 17

Press Control-E to Merge the selected layers. Go to Layer > Rename Layer... and rename it emitter-7.

Now, your image should look like below.

Image with emitter-7

Hide the emitter-7 layer by toggling the eyeball icon off.

Copy of the emitter layers merged into the emitter-7 layer

7. How to Create the Background Color Dust

Step 1

Select the BG Color layer.

Go to Layer > New Fill Layer > Solid Color.... Name it BG Fill Dust 1, enter the hex color code #000000, and click OK.

Create a Solid Color Fill layer with hex color code 000000

Step 2

Go to Layer > Layer Mask > Delete.

Again, go to Layer > Layer Mask > Hide All.

Now, go to Layer > Layer Mask > Unlink.

Hide the BG Fill Dust 1 layer with a black layer mask

Step 3

Press B on the keyboard to select the Brush Tool. Expand the brush selector drop-down menu and select the br-color-dust-4c brush. Make sure both the Opacity and Flow are set to 100%.

Select the br-color-dust-4c brush

Step 4

Select the emitter-7 layer, right-click on the layer thumbnail, and select Select Pixels.

Select pixels of the emitter-7 layer

Step 5

Select the BG Fill Dust 1 layer icon. Then, select the layer mask (this is to make sure that the layer mask is always selected at this step).

Press D on the keyboard to reset swatches. Make sure your Foreground Color is white while the layer mask is selected.

Select the layer mask of the BG Fill Dust 1 layer

Step 6

Press M on the keyboard to select the Rectangular Marquee Tool. Then, right-click on the image and select Make Work Path.... Enter Tolerance: 3.0 pixels and click OK.

Make path from the selection with tolerance of 3 pixels

Step 7

Press P on the keyboard to select the Pen Tool.

Then, right-click on the image and select Stroke Path.... Make sure Simulate Pressure is not checked. Click OK.

Again, right-click on the image with the Pen Tool and select Delete Path.

Stroke path without Simulate Pressure

Step 8

Now, your image should look like below.

Effect with the BG Fill Dust 1 layer

Step 9

Go to Layer > New Fill Layer > Solid Color.... Name it BG Fill Dust 2, enter the hex color code #000000, and click OK.

Create a Solid Color Fill layer with hex color code 000000

Step 10

Repeat Step 2 for the BG Fill Dust 2 layer.

Press B on the keyboard to select the Brush Tool. Expand the brush selector drop-down menu and select the br-color-dust-3d brush. Make sure both the Opacity and Flow are set to 100%.

Select the br-color-dust-3d brush

Step 11

Select the emitter-7 layer, right-click on the layer thumbnail, and select Select Pixels.

Select the BG Fill Dust 2 layer icon. Then, select the layer mask (this is to make sure that the layer mask is always selected at this step).

Select the layer mask of the BG Fill Dust 2 layer

Step 12

Then make a path from the selection and Stroke the path with the selected brush.

Now, your image should look like below.

Effect with the BG Fill Dust 2 layer

Step 13

Go to Layer > New Fill Layer > Solid Color.... Name it BG Dust 1, enter the hex colour code #00ce7e, and click OK.

Create a Solid Color Fill layer with hex color code 00ce7e

Step 14

Repeat Step 2 for the BG Dust 1 layer.

Press B on the keyboard to select the Brush Tool. Expand the brush selector drop-down menu and select the br-color-dust-1 brush. Make sure both the Opacity and Flow are set to 100%.

Select the br-color-dust-1 brush

Step 15

Select the emitter-1 layer, right-click on the layer thumbnail, and select Select Pixels.

Select the BG Dust 1 layer icon. Then, select the layer mask (this is to make sure that the layer mask is always selected at this step).

Select the layer mask of the BG Dust 1 layer

Step 16

Then make a path from the selection and Stroke the path with the selected brush.

Now, your image should look like below.

Effect with the BG Dust 1 layer

Step 17

Go to Layer > New Fill Layer > Solid Color.... Name it BG Dust 1 Col 2, enter the hex colour code #0db9ea, and click OK.

Create a Solid Color Fill layer with hex color code 0db9ea

Step 18

Repeat Step 2 for the BG Dust 1 Col 2 layer.

Go to Layer > Create Clipping Mask to add the BG Dust 1 Col 2 layer as a Clipping Mask to the BG Dust 1 layer.

Layer structure after adding clipping mask

Step 19

Press B on the keyboard to select the Brush Tool. Expand the brush selector drop-down menu and select the br-color-dust-4c brush. Make sure both the Opacity and Flow are set to 100%.

Select the emitter-7 layer, right-click on the layer thumbnail, and select Select Pixels.

Select the BG Dust 1 Col 2 layer icon. Then, select the layer mask (this is to make sure that the layer mask is always selected at this step).

Just like before, make a path from the selection and Stroke the path with the selected brush.

Press Control-I to Invert the layer mask color.

Now, your image should look like below.

Image after applying effect on the BG Dust 1 Col 2 layer

Step 20

Go to Layer > New Fill Layer > Solid Color.... Name it BG Dust 2, enter the hex color code #ef16a5, and click OK.

Create a Solid Color Fill layer with hex color code ef16a5

Step 21

Repeat Step 2 for the BG Dust 2 layer.

Press B on the keyboard to select the Brush Tool. Expand the brush selector drop-down menu and select the br-color-dust-2 brush. Make sure both the Opacity and Flow are set to 100%.

Select the br-color-dust-2 brush

Step 22

Select the emitter-3 layer, right-click on the layer thumbnail, and select Select Pixels.

Select the BG Dust 2 layer icon. Then, select the layer mask (this is to make sure that the layer mask is always selected at this step).

Then make a path from the selection and Stroke the path with the selected brush.

Now, your image should look like below.

Image after applying effect on the BG Dust 2 layer

Step 23

Go to Layer > New Fill Layer > Solid Color.... Name it BG Dust 3, enter the hex color code #ffea5a, and click OK.

Create a Solid Color Fill layer with hex color code ffea5a

Step 24

Repeat Step 2 for the BG Dust 3 layer.

Press B on the keyboard to select the Brush Tool. Expand the brush selector drop-down menu and select the br-color-dust-4a brush. Make sure both the Opacity and Flow are set to 100%.

Select the br-color-dust-4a brush

Step 25

Select the emitter-3 layer, right-click on the layer thumbnail, and select Select Pixels.

Select the BG Dust 3 layer icon. Then, select the layer mask (this is to make sure that the layer mask is always selected at this step).

Then, make a path from the current selection. Press P on the keyboard to select the Pen Tool.

Then, right-click on the image and select Stroke Path.... Make sure Simulate Pressure is not checked. Click OK.

Again, right-click on the image and select Stroke Path.... Make sure Simulate Pressure is not checked. Click OK.

Now, your image should look like below.

Image after applying effect on the BG Dust 3 layer

Step 26

Press B on the keyboard to select the Brush Tool. Expand the brush selector drop-down menu and select the br-color-dust-3d brush. Make sure both the Opacity and Flow are set to 100%.

Press P on the keyboard to select the Pen Tool.

Then, right-click on the image and select Stroke Path.... Make sure Simulate Pressure is not checked. Click OK.

Again, right-click on the image and select Stroke Path.... Make sure Simulate Pressure is not checked. Click OK.

Again, right-click on the image and select Stroke Path.... Make sure Simulate Pressure is not checked. Click OK.

Now, right-click on the image with the Pen Tool and select Delete Path.

Now, your image should look like below.

Image after applying effect on the BG Dust 3 layer

Step 27

Select the emitter-4 layer, right-click on the layer thumbnail, and select Select Pixels.

Select the BG Dust 3 layer icon. Then, select the layer mask (this is to make sure that the layer mask is always selected at this step).

Then make a path from the current selection. Press P on the keyboard to select the Pen Tool.

Then, right-click on the image and select Stroke Path.... Make sure Simulate Pressure is not checked. Click OK.

Again, right-click on the image and select Stroke Path.... Make sure Simulate Pressure is not checked. Click OK.

Now, your image should look like below.

Image after applying effect on the BG Dust 3 layer

Step 28

Press B on the keyboard to select the Brush Tool. Expand the brush selector drop-down menu and select the br-color-dust-4a brush. Make sure both the Opacity and Flow are set to 100%.

Press P on the keyboard to select the Pen Tool.

Then, right-click on the image and select Stroke Path.... Make sure Simulate Pressure is not checked. Click OK.

Again, right-click on the image and select Stroke Path.... Make sure Simulate Pressure is not checked. Click OK.

Again, right-click on the image and select Stroke Path.... Make sure Simulate Pressure is not checked. Click OK.

Now, right-click on the image with the Pen Tool and select Delete Path.

Now, your image should look like below.

Image after applying effect on the BG Dust 3 layer

Step 29

Go to Layer > New Fill Layer > Solid Color.... Name it BG Dust 4, enter the hex color code #0df0ed, and click OK.

Create a Solid Color Fill layer with hex color code 0df0ed

Step 30

Repeat Step 2 for the BG Dust 4 layer.

Press B on the keyboard to select the Brush Tool. Expand the brush selector drop-down menu and select the br-color-dust-3c brush. Make sure both the Opacity and Flow are set to 100%.

Select the br-color-dust-3c brush

Step 31

Select the emitter-5 layer, right-click on the layer thumbnail, and select Select Pixels.

Select the BG Dust 4 layer icon. Then, select the layer mask (this is to make sure that the layer mask is always selected at this step).

Then make a path from the selection and Stroke the path with the selected brush.

Now, your image should look like below.

Image after applying effect on the BG Dust 4 layer

Step 32

Go to Layer > New Fill Layer > Solid Color.... Name it BG Dust 5, enter the hex colour code #eb18a8, and click OK.

Create a Solid Color Fill layer with hex color code eb18a8

Step 33

Repeat Step 2 for the BG Dust 5 layer.

Press B on the keyboard to select the Brush Tool. Expand the brush selector drop-down menu and select the br-color-dust-4a brush. Make sure both the Opacity and Flow are set to 100%.

Select the emitter-2 layer, right-click on the layer thumbnail, and select Select Pixels.

Select the BG Dust 5 layer icon. Then, select the layer mask (this is to make sure that the layer mask is always selected at this step).

Then make a path from the selection and Stroke the path with the selected brush.

Change the Blending Mode of the layer to Darken.

Now, your image should look like below.

Image after applying effect on the BG Dust 5 layer

Step 34

Go to Layer > New Fill Layer > Solid Color.... Name it BG Dust 6, enter the hex color code #0db9ea, and click OK.

Create a Solid Color Fill layer with hex color code 0db9ea

Step 35

Repeat Step 2 for the BG Dust 6 layer.

Press B on the keyboard to select the Brush Tool. Expand the brush selector drop-down menu and select the br-color-dust-3a brush. Make sure both the Opacity and Flow are set to 100%.

Select the emitter-4 layer, right-click on the layer thumbnail, and select Select Pixels.

Select the BG Dust 6 layer icon. Then, select the layer mask (this is to make sure that the layer mask is always selected at this step).

Then make a path from the selection and Stroke the path with the selected brush.

Now, your image should look like below.

Image after applying effect on the BG Dust 6 layer

Step 36

Press B on the keyboard to select the Brush Tool. Expand the brush selector drop-down menu and select the br-color-dust-3b brush. Make sure both the Opacity and Flow are set to 100%.

Select the emitter-6 layer, right-click on the layer thumbnail, and select Select Pixels.

Select the BG Dust 6 layer icon. Then, select the layer mask (this is to make sure that the layer mask is always selected at this step).

Then make a path from the selection and Stroke the path with the selected brush.

Now, your image should look like below.

Image after applying effect on the BG Dust 6 layer

Your BG Dust layers should look like below.

BG Dust layers

8. How to Create the Overlay Color Dust

Step 1

Select the Base Image layer.

Go to Layer > New Fill Layer > Solid Color.... Name it OL Dust 1, enter the hex color code #00ce7e, and click OK.

Create a Solid Color Fill layer with hex color code 00ce7e

Step 2

Go to Layer > Layer Mask > Delete.

Again, go to Layer > Layer Mask > Hide All.

Now, go to Layer > Layer Mask > Unlink.

Hide the OL Dust 1 layer with a black layer mask

Step 3

Press B on the keyboard to select the Brush Tool. Expand the brush selector drop-down menu and select the br-color-dust-4b brush. Make sure both the Opacity and Flow are set to 100%.

Select the br-color-dust-4b brush

Step 4

Select the temp-sub layer, right-click on the layer thumbnail, and select Select Pixels.

Right-click on the layer thumbnail of the temp-sub layer and select Select Pixels

Step 5

Select the OL Dust 1 layer icon. Then, select the layer mask (this is to make sure that the layer mask is always selected at this step).

Press D on the keyboard to reset swatches. Make sure your Foreground Color is white while the layer mask is selected.

Select the layer mask of the OL Dust 1 layer and reset swatches

Step 6

Press M on the keyboard to select the Rectangular Marquee Tool. Then, right-click on the image and select Make Work Path.... Enter Tolerance: 3.0 pixels and click OK.

Make work path

Step 7

Press P on the keyboard to select the Pen Tool.

Then, right-click on the image and select Stroke Path.... Make sure Simulate Pressure is not checked. Click OK.

Again, right-click on the image with the Pen Tool and select Delete Path.

Stroke path without Simulate Pressure

Step 8

Now, your image should look like below.

Image after applying effect on the OL Dust 1 layer

Step 9

Go to Layer > New Fill Layer > Solid Color.... Name it OL Dust 2, enter the hex color code #eb18a8, and click OK.

Create a Solid Color Fill layer with hex color code eb18a8

Step 10

Repeat Step 2 for the OL Dust 2 layer.

Select the emitter-5 layer, right-click on the layer thumbnail, and select Select Pixels.

Select the OL Dust 2 layer icon. Then, select the layer mask (this is to make sure that the layer mask is always selected at this step).

Then make a path from the selection and Stroke the path with the selected brush.

Now, your image should look like below.

Image after applying effect on the OL Dust 2 layer

Step 11

Go to Layer > New Fill Layer > Solid Color.... Name it OL Dust 3, enter the hex color code #0db9ea, and click OK.

Create a Solid Color Fill layer with hex color code 0db9ea

Step 12

Repeat Step 2 for the OL Dust 3 layer.

Select the emitter-4 layer, right-click on the layer thumbnail, and select Select Pixels.

Select the OL Dust 3 layer icon. Then, select the layer mask (this is to make sure that the layer mask is always selected at this step).

Then make a path from the selection and Stroke the path with the selected brush.

Now, your image should look like below.

Image after applying effect on the OL Dust 2 layer

Step 13

Go to Layer > New Fill Layer > Solid Color.... Name it OL Dust 4, enter the hex colour code #ffea5a, and click OK.

Create a Solid Color Fill layer with hex color code ffea5a

Step 14

Repeat Step 2 for the OL Dust 4 layer.

Press B on the keyboard to select the Brush Tool. Expand the brush selector drop-down menu and select the br-color-dust-5 brush. Make sure both the Opacity and Flow are set to 100%.

Select the br-color-dust-5 brush

Step 15

Select the emitter-7 layer, right-click on the layer thumbnail, and select Select Pixels.

Select the OL Dust 4 layer icon. Then, select the layer mask (this is to make sure that the layer mask is always selected at this step).

Then make a path from the current selection.

Press P on the keyboard to select the Pen Tool.

Then, right-click on the image and select Stroke Path.... Make sure Simulate Pressure is not checked. Click OK.

Again, right-click on the image and select Stroke Path.... Make sure Simulate Pressure is not checked. Click OK.

Now, right-click on the image with the Pen Tool and select Delete Path.

Now, your image should look like below.

Image after applying effect on the OL Dust 4 layer

Your layers structure should look like below.

Layers structure after adding the OL Dust layers

9. How to Make Image Adjustments

Step 1

Select the Base Image layer and press Control-J to Duplicate it.

Go to Layer > Rename Layer... and rename it Overlay Image. Change the Blending Mode of the Overlay Image layer to Luminosity.

Go to Layer > Layer Mask > Hide All. Select the Base Image layer and go to Layer > Layer Mask > Reveal All.

Base Image and Overlay Image layers

Step 2

Select the emitter-7 layer, right-click on the layer thumbnail, and select Select Pixels.

Press B on the keyboard to select the Brush Tool. Expand the brush selector drop-down menu and select the br-color-dust-3e brush. Make sure both the Opacity and Flow are set to 100%.

Select the br-color-dust-3e brush

Step 3

Press M on the keyboard to select the Rectangular Marquee Tool. Then, right-click on the image and select Make Work Path.... Enter Tolerance: 3.0 pixels and click OK.

Select the layer thumbnail of the Base Image layer and then select its Layer Mask. This is to make sure that the layer mask always gets selected at this point.

Press D on the keyboard to reset swatches. Then, press X on the keyboard to switch swatches and set your Foreground Color as Black.

Press P on the keyboard to select the Pen Tool.

Then, right-click on the image and select Stroke Path.... Make sure Simulate Pressure is not checked. Click OK.

Again, right-click on the image and select Stroke Path.... Make sure Simulate Pressure is not checked. Click OK.

Again, right-click on the image and select Stroke Path.... Make sure Simulate Pressure is not checked. Click OK.

Now, your image should look like below.

Image after applying effect on the Base Image layer

Step 4

Select the layer thumbnail of the Overlay Image layer and then select its layer mask. This is to make sure that the layer mask always gets selected at this point.

Press D on the keyboard to reset swatches and set your Foreground Color as White.

Press P on the keyboard to select the Pen Tool.

Then, right-click on the image and select Stroke Path.... Make sure Simulate Pressure is not checked. Click OK.

Again, right-click on the image and select Stroke Path.... Make sure Simulate Pressure is not checked. Click OK.

Now, right-click on the image and select Delete Path.

Your image and layers structure should look like below.

Image after applying effect on the Overlay Image layer
Layers structure image adjustment layers

10. How to Make Additional Adjustments

Step 1

Select the OL Dust 4 layer.

Go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Levels... and name it Overall Levels.

Enter the following input levels - Shadow input level: 20 and Highlight input level: 245.

Levels adjustment layer

Step 2

Go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Curves... and name it Overall Curves.

Select the Blue channel and enter the following values.

Curves adjustment layer

Now, your image and layers structure should look like below.

Image after applying the Overall Adjustment layers
Layers structure

11. How to Tidy Up Your Groups

In the next steps, we'll organize the layers into logical groups and color code them for ease of use.

Step 1

Select the temp-sub layer. Hold Shift and select the emitter-1 layer.

Press Delete on the keyboard to delete all eight selected layers.

Layers structure after clean-up

Step 2

Select the Overall Levels layer, hold Shift and select the Overall Curves layer.

Press Control-G to Group the layers. Go to Layer > Rename Group... and rename it as Overall Adjustments.

Right-click on the Overall Adjustments group and select Slot Color: Gray.

Overall Adjustments group

Step 3

Select the OL Dust 4 layer, hold Shift and select the OL Dust 1 layer.

Press Control-G to Group the layers. Go to Layer > Rename Group... and rename it as Overlay Dust Elements.

Right-click on the Overlay Dust Elements group and select Slot Color: Yellow.

Overlay Dust Elements group

Step 4

Select the Overlay Image layer, hold Shift and select the Base Image layer.

Press Control-G to Group the layers. Go to Layer > Rename Group... and rename it as Image Elements.

Right-click on the Image Elements group and select Slot Color: Blue.

Image Elements group

Step 5

Select the BG Dust 6 layer, hold Shift and select the BG Dust 1 layer.

Press Control-G to Group the layers. Go to Layer > Rename Group... and rename it BG Dust Elements.

Right-click on the BG Dust Elements group and select Slot Color: Red.

BG Dust Elements group

Step 6

Select the BG Fill Dust 2 layer, hold Shift and select the BG Color layer.

Press Control-G to Group the layers. Go to Layer > Rename Group... and rename it BG Elements.

Right-click on the BG Elements group and select Slot Color: Green.

BG Elements group

12. How to Finish Recording the Action

Stop recording by clicking the Stop button.

Click the Stop button to stop action recording

13. How to Customize Your Result

Now, I'll show you how to change the color of the dust elements.

Step 1

Double-click on the BG Color layer thumbnail and enter the hex color code #000000. Click OK.

Double-click on the BG Fill Dust 1 layer thumbnail and enter the hex color code #ffffff. Click OK.

Double-click on the BG Fill Dust 2 layer thumbnail and enter the hex color code #ffffff. Click OK.

Modify background color

Step 2

Double-click on the BG Dust 1 layer thumbnail and enter the hex color code #000000. Click OK.

Double-click on the BG Dust 1 Col 2 layer thumbnail and enter the hex color code #436c78. Click OK.

Double-click on the BG Dust 2 layer thumbnail and enter the hex color code #38b2ff. Click OK.

Double-click on the BG Dust 3 layer thumbnail and enter the hex color code #ffea5a. Click OK.

Double-click on the BG Dust 4 layer thumbnail and enter the hex color code #49b0ff. Click OK.

Double-click on the BG Dust 5 layer thumbnail and enter the hex color code #eb18a8. Click OK.

Double-click on the BG Dust 6 layer thumbnail and enter the hex color code #ffffff. Click OK.

Modify background dust element color

Step 3

Double-click on the OL Dust 1 layer thumbnail and enter the hex color code #ffffff. Click OK.

Double-click on the OL Dust 2 layer thumbnail and enter the hex color code #eb18a8. Click OK.

Double-click on the OL Dust 3 layer thumbnail and enter the hex color code #ffffff. Click OK.

Double-click on the OL Dust 4 layer thumbnail and enter the hex color code #ffea5a. Click OK.

Modify overlay dust element color

This is what we'll get.

Modified dust color

Feel free to experiment with different colors. You can also select the Layer mask of any color dust layer and press Control-T to bring up the Free Transform tool. Then, you can resize and rotate the elements.

Awesome, You've Done It!

Here is your final result!

You can now apply the effect onto any other image. Open the image, select Color Dust Photoshop Action, and click Play from the Actions panel.

Things to remember before playing the action:

  • Make sure that you have installed the Brush.
  • Make sure that the Brush Opacity and Flow are set to 100%, like step 2 - How to Load the Brushes.
  • Make sure you have created the subject layer, made a selection of your main subject and filled it with any color, just like Step 1 of 3 - How to Make the Effect Area Layers.
  • Make sure the width of the image is set between 2500-4000 pixels, like Step 2 of 1 - How to Set Up Your Document.
  • Make sure Use Default Masks on Fill Layers and Add "copy" to Copied Layers and Groups are checked under Panel Options..., like Step 1 of 1 - How to Set Up Your Document.

We have reached the end of the tutorial. Here you've learned how to add a color dust explosion effect on any photo and also automate it in a one-click Photoshop action.

I hope you've enjoyed this tutorial and found it helpful. Feel free to leave your comments below, and thanks for reading.

Color Dust Photoshop Action Tutorial
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