Although Photoshop filters can be very powerful, if you want to create a truly original picture, you need to use various Photoshop effects. In this tutorial, I'll show you how to add a dreamy glow effect to a photo manipulation by using a few different photos and various color adjustments.
What You Will Need
You will need the following resources in order to complete this project:
- Sleeping kitten
- Sleeping girl
- Sunset meadow
- Spring meadow
- Grass isolated
- Fluffy cat
- Tabby cat
1. How to Create a Background for a Glow Effect Photo Manipulation
Open the spring meadow image in Photoshop and then drag sunset meadow into the file. Drag the latter up to cover the original background, leaving only the grass visible in the foreground.
Add a Layer Mask to the top layer and paint on it with a soft, black brush to blend the edge of the image with the one below
Click the lower layer. Add a Hue/Saturation adjustment to make the grass darker.
Add a Color Balance adjustment to make the grass more bluish.
Add a Brightness/Contrast adjustment to make the grass even darker.
That should be good enough for now!
2. How to Add a Cat to a Photo
Open the sleeping kitten photo in Photoshop. Use the Eyedropper Tool (I) to pick a sample of the background, and then go to Select > Color Range. Select Sampled Colors and adjust the Fuzziness until the cat is mostly black inside. Click OK.
Because the kitten has some bright areas on its fur, they might have been selected as well. Enter Quick Mask Mode (Q) and paint with black to cover these areas with red. When you go out of the mode (Q), the selection will appear again.
Go to Select > Inverse, then Select > Refine Edge. Here you can use a couple of options to select the fur more precisely. Use the Refine Radius Tool (E) to paint on the fur to make the spaces between the hairs transparent. Set Output to New Layer and press OK.
Copy and paste the kitten to the previous image. Place it on the grass.
We're going to need to shade the kitten manually, but this kind of shading usually softens the object and makes it look airbrushed. To avoid it, we can use an alpha layer containing the texture of the fur.
Create a New Layer and fill it with white using the Paint Bucket Tool (G). Duplicate the kitten (Control-J) and drag it to the top. Go to Image > Adjustments > Desaturate. Merge both layers (Control-E) and go to Filter > Filter Gallery > Sketch > Photocopy. Adjust the settings to turn the photo into mostly a texture of fur. Click OK.
Copy the layer and go to the Channels tab. Create a New Channel and paste your selection here. Then select the RGB channel again, go back to the Layers tab, and remove or hide the grayscale kitten.
Add a Color Balance adjustment to the kitten. Clip the adjustment (Control-Alt-G) to affect only the layer below, not the whole background. Make the kitten reddish-blue.
Add a Hue/Saturation adjustment, clip it, and darken the kitten.
There's a layer mask attached to the adjustment. Paint on it with black to reveal the rim light.
Do you see how soft the rim light looks? Let's add some texture to it. Go to the Channels tab again, hold Control, and click the thumbnail of the alpha channel. This will make a selection.
Go back to the Layers tab and hide the selection (Control-H). Then paint on the layer mask. Now you'll only be able to paint on the white parts of the fur texture, and the dark between them will stay unaffected. When you're done, don't forget to deselect the hidden selection (Control-D).
We're going to use the same method to add more shading adjustments. Add a Hue/Saturation adjustment and make the kitten darker and more bluish. Then paint on the mask, first without and then with the texture, to keep the shadow out of the upper area. Pay attention to the 3D form of the kitten's body.
Add a Brightness/Contrast adjustment to darken the very bottom of the kitten.
Add one more Hue/Saturation adjustment to make the rim light warmer.
3. How to Add Grass to a Photo
For now, the kitten seems to be floating on the grass. Let's make the illusion more convincing. Open the grass isolated image in Photoshop and remove its white background, just as we did earlier. Paste it into the photo manipulation and add a Photo Filter adjustment to it.
Resize the grass (Control-T) and place it behind the kitten, between the two backgrounds. Duplicate it (Control-J) to make more.
Add a Hue/Saturation adjustment to the grass to paint a shadow under the kitten.
Add bigger grass in the front, above the kitten layer, to create some depth.
Darken the grass and add Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur to it to simulate the depth of field.
Add more grass in the front, with a stronger blur.
4. How to Add a Girl to the Photo
Open the sleeping girl photo in Photoshop. Use the Pen Tool (P) to select the outline of the girl. Then use the Refine Edge option to select the hair precisely.
The foot has been cropped out of the picture, so let's retrieve it. Draw an outline of the missing part with your chosen selection tool, and then go to Edit > Fill > Content Aware.
Select the hair on the right, copy and paste it, and place it on the left, to replace the hair that's missing. Merge the layers.
There's some over-exposure in the hair, so let's fix it. Add a Levels adjustment and increase the contrast by dragging the dark marker towards the center.
Use a Layer Mask to erase the adjustment from most of the body, leaving it only in the over-exposed area.
Copy the girl (along with the adjustment: Control-Shift-C) and paste her into the main file. Resize and rotate her (Control-T) so that she fits snugly in the kitten's fur.
Add a Layer Mask to hide the areas of her body that should be covered.
Let's adjust her colors now. Add a Color Balance adjustment and make her bluish.
Add a Brightness/Contrast adjustment and make the girl darker. Use the Layer Mask to reveal the light in the upper part of the body, closer to the illuminated part of the kitten.
Right-click the adjustment layer and select Blending Options. Hold Alt and drag the lower white marker to the left. This will reveal the bright parts of the layer below, making the shadow more realistic.
Add another Brightness/Contrast adjustment and use it on the lower part of the body, deeper in the shadow.
Add a Photo Filter adjustment and make the girl more bluish—but only in the lower part.
Add a Brightness/Contrast adjustment to add another level of shadows.
Add a Hue/Saturation adjustment and use it to desaturate/darken the hair. It can't stay this red, because it would look confusing in this composition.
The girl still looks a little too warm for this environment, so let's lower her saturation slightly. Add a Vibrance adjustment and decrease it.
5. How to Make the Kitten Fluffier
The composition looks mostly right, but there are certain details that can be made better yet. Hide the girl layer for a moment and select a part of the fur on the kitten. Copy it merged (Control-Shift-C) and paste it below the girl.
Use the Blending Options to remove the layer's contents from the shadows. Use the Free Transform Tool (Control-T) and Control-drag the corners to change the perspective of the layer.
Use a Layer Mask if necessary to make it cleaner.
Open the fluffy cat photo in Photoshop. Remove its background and copy a part of its fluffy fur into the main file. Make it reddish-orange with a Hue/Saturation adjustment, and then merge it with the adjustment.
Duplicate this part of the fur all behind the kitten's back, creating a row of illuminated fur.
You can brighten it slightly by adding an adjustment to a group containing the fur.
Drag the tabby kitten into the main file. Lower its Opacity and resize it to place it right over the kitten's back.
Reset the Opacity and change the Blending Options to remove the shadows from this photo. Then use a Layer Mask to keep only the illuminated fur on the back.
Duplicate this layer and place it in other areas that need some illuminated fur. Adjust the Layer Mask accordingly.
Drag the fluffy kitten photo into the main file. Use it in a similar way to add its fluff to the chin (above the girl) and behind the girl.
6. How to Add a Photoshop Dreamy Glow Effect
We're almost done, but let's add some glow effects to our image. Create a New Layer over the background, and use a round hard brush to paint circles of the same size, but different opacity.
Go to Filter > Blur > Lens Blur. Use high Brightness and Threshold to make the bokeh blurry and glowing.
Change the Blend Mode to Overlay, and lower the Opacity to make the effect subtle.
Do a similar thing, this time painting very small circles.
Add Outer Glow to them.
Right-click the layer and Rasterize Layer Style, adding a blur to it.
The back of the kitten is glowing, but the grass behind is more subdued. Let's fix it. Duplicate the background layer (the one with the sky) and Image > Adjustments > Desaturate. Then go to Filter > Filter Gallery > Brush Strokes > Accented Edges. Adjust the settings to create a black edge around the blades of grass. Click OK.
Add a Levels adjustment to this layer. Drag both markers to the opposite side to create very strong contrast—with black around the edges of the blades and a white background.
Copy this layer and paste it as a new alpha channel. Control-click it to take the selection, and then hide the layer, create a new one, and fill it with white. Drag it above the background, but behind the grass.
Use Gaussian Blur to make the edges more glowing.
Add a Layer Mask to limit the glow to the upper parts of the blades. Lower its Opacity and maybe add a Hue/Saturation layer to make the glow more saturated.
To make the rest of the grass glow, add a Hue/Saturation adjustment in Overlay mode. Use Blending Options to remove the effect from the darker areas.
Add a Hue/Saturation adjustment to desaturate the grass in the background slightly.
Add a Selective Color adjustment on top. With it, you can control all colors in the image. Use it to make the blues brighter and the blacks brighter and warmer. This will unify the shadows in the picture nicely.
Finally, let's add some blur. Copy the whole picture and paste it on top. Go to Filter > Blur > Iris Blur. Drag the ellipse to create a blur around it.
To create a stronger blur, Duplicate the layer and add a Gaussian Blur to it. Then paint on its Layer Mask in the center to reveal most of the image, leaving some blur on the edges.
Now you know how to create a glow effect in Photoshop! if you enjoyed this tutorial and want to learn more about Photoshop effects, try these tutorials as well:
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- Photo ManipulationHow to Create a Dramatic Mermaid Photo Manipulation in PhotoshopAbbey Esparza
- Adobe PhotoshopHow to Create a Lady and the Tramp Photo Manipulation in Adobe PhotoshopMelody Nieves
- Adobe PhotoshopA Beginners Guide to Photo Manipulations in Adobe PhotoshopMelody Nieves
- Photo ManipulationHow to Create a Fun Giant Dog Photo Manipulation in PhotoshopMonika Zagrobelna