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How to Create a Dreamy Glow Effect Photoshop Action

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Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

If you know how to create Photoshop actions, you can add various Photoshop effects to your photos with a single click, saving yourself a lot of time. In this tutorial, I will show you how to create a Photoshop dreamy glow effect, with soft blur and bokeh in the background.

Follow along with us via our Envato Tuts+ YouTube Channel:

How to Create a Dreamy Glow Effect Photoshop Action

Step 1

Open your image in Photoshop. Make sure it's a background layer, and then create a New Layer and paint white glow around the subject. The painted area will be blurred later. Name this layer blur.

white glow photoshop

Step 2

Create a New Layer and paint over the area that you want to keep relatively sharp, for example the face. Name this layer sharp.

sharpness mask

Step 3

Create a New File with these dimensions. Fill the canvas with black using the Paint Bucket Tool (G), and then create a New Layer. Take a hard, round brush, lower its Opacity, and paint three white circles with various levels of opacity. To make the circle more opaque, click a few times instead of once.

new document
brush settings
bokeh pattern photoshop

Step 4

Hide the background and go to Edit > Define Pattern. Give it a name and click OK.

define pattern photoshop

Step 5

Go back to the previous image. Open the Actions panel and create a new action. Give it a name. Now everything you do will be recorded.

create new action

Step 6

Create a New Layer under the blur layer. Go to Edit > Fill and fill it with black.

fill layer with black
layer mask

Step 7

Go to the Channels tab and duplicate the Red channel. Change its name to blur, switch back to the RGB channel, and go back to the Layers tab.

duplicate channe

Step 8

Hide the mask layers. Duplicate the background layer with Control-J and go to Filter > Blur > Lens Blur. Select blur channel as the Source and adjust the settings. Lower the Opacity if the blur appears too strong.

lens blur
blur background photoshop

Step 9

Duplicate the background layer again and drag it over the previous copy. Go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur. Add a very strong blur, and then lower the Opacity of this layer to mix it with the layer below.

gaussian blur
dreamy glow effect

Step 10

Duplicate the background layer once more and drag it to the top. Hold Control and click the thumbnail of the sharp layer to take a selection from it. Then add a Layer Mask to hide everything that is not selected. Adjust the Opacity for the desired level of sharpness.

create layer mask
sharpness mask photoshop

Step 11

Time to add the bokeh effect. Create a New Layer and go to Edit > Fill. Use Pattern, select the pattern you created earlier,  and select Random Fill as a Script. Go to Image > Adjustments > Desaturate.

random bokeh photoshop

Step 12

Change the Blend Mode to Overlay. Go to Filter > Blur > Lens Blur. Here you can adjust the settings to create the kind of bokeh you need. After the filter is applied, lower the Opacity to control the intensity of the effect. Put this layer into a group (Control-G).

add bokeh photoshop

Step 13

Add a Layer Mask with the selection from the blur layer to the group. Duplicate the background and drag it under the bokeh layer. Add Gaussian Blur to it. Take a selection from the bokeh, and add it as a Layer Mask.

bokeh masks
bokeh effect photoshop

Step 14

Let's add a subtle color adjustment as a finishing touch. Add a Selective Color adjustment. Make the Whites brighter, and the Blacks slightly brighter and bluer.

selective color
change colors in photo
blue shadows

Step 15

Stop recording.

stop recording action

The best thing about Photoshop actions is that they can be used multiple times on various images, creating a different effect every time. Just click "play" to add this glow effect to other photos. Then you can experiment with the adjustments and opacity of the layers to customize the effect.

photoshop dreamy glow effect
glow effect
photoshop effects

Glow Effect Photoshop Actions

You can get similar photo effects much faster by using these professional actions from Envato Elements:

Fearless Photoshop Action

This action will add fiery, lightning-like effects to your photos. Just paint a mask over your subject and press play!

Fearless Photoshop Action

Sparkle Photoshop Action

Paint some glow on the image, and this action will turn it into sparkles in the color you used. Very simple to use, but very effective!

Sparkle Photoshop Action

Glow in the Dark Photoshop Actions

This action will allow you to add a unique, glow-in-the-dark effect to your photos with a single click.

Glow in the dark Photoshop Actions

Shimmer Photoshop Action

Create an amazing professional effect filled with glow, shimmer, and bokeh elements. The final result is outstanding, with fully editable layers, colors, and elements.

Shimmer Photoshop Action

Clouds Exposure Photoshop Action

This final action lets you create a Photoshop effect filled with clouds, glowing stars, and particles. Again, it comes with fully editable layers, colors, and elements.

Clouds Exposure Photoshop Action

Good Job!

Now you know how to create a glow effect in Photoshop. If you want to learn how to create other cool Photoshop actions, try these tutorials as well:

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