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How to Make a Crystal Effect in Photoshop

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Final product imageFinal product imageFinal product image
What You'll Be Creating

Today we'll be looking at how to make a quick and easy crystal texture Photoshop effect using nothing but a handful of Smart Filters! We'll also be creating a dreamy pastel color grade to pair with a gold foil frame design.

Low Poly Photoshop ActionLow Poly Photoshop ActionLow Poly Photoshop Action

Want to create a crystal texture Photoshop even quicker? Try an action! You can make a crystallized effect with just a click of a button using the diamond texture Photoshop actions available on Envato Elements!

What You'll Learn in This Photoshop Tutorial

  • How to create a Photoshop crystal effect
  • How to make a diamond in Photoshop
  • How to make a sapphire stone shimmer Photoshop

Follow along with us over on our Envato Tuts+ YouTube channel:

What You'll Need

To complete this project, you will need the following resources:

1. How to Create a Quick Background in Photoshop

Step 1

First, let’s start with a new canvas filled with a pastel violet color #ddd9e8 using a Color fill layer. Turning that Color fill layer into a Smart Object by selecting the layer and Right-clicking > Convert to Smart Object.

pastel background pastel background pastel background

Step 2

Next, let’s go to Filter > Camera Raw > Effects and add a Grain of 40-50 and a Vignetting of -10.

add noise add noise add noise

Step 3

Now, we’re going to use Image > Adjustments > Brightness/Contrast to adjust the color. Set the Contrast to 100 and the Brightness to around 40.

darken background darken background darken background

2. How to Create a Pastel Gold Foil Design in Photoshop

Step 1

For our golden frame, we’re going to chop and combine four different assets from the Zodiac Graphic Elements Kit, the first being Element 1.

Drag, drop, and center Element 1 onto the canvas. If it’s not already a Smart Object, then Right-click > Convert to Smart Object.

Go to Layer > Adjustments > Brightness/Contrast, setting it to around -60 Brightness and 45 Contrast.

place gold design place gold design place gold design

Step 2

Now, using the Rectangular Marquee tool, select everything above the foreground mountains in the illustration.

Add a Layer Mask and then hit Control-I to Invert the Layer Mask!

We’ll be doing some final masking here soon, so don’t worry about masking too much or too little.

mask half of the gold mask half of the gold mask half of the gold

Step 3

Next, we’re going to drag and drop the Virgo asset directly over the first element.

Hold Alt, and drag and drop the Brightness/Contrast Smart Filter from Element 1 onto the Virgo asset. And then one more time hold Alt, and drag and drop the Layer Mask from Element 1 onto the Virgo asset.

Hit Control-I to Invert the Layer Mask so that the two frames look like one.

place upper halfplace upper halfplace upper half

Step 4

Now, let’s drag and drop Element 17 onto the canvas. Enlarge it so that the stars fill in the horizontal space surrounding the golden frame.

place gold foil stars place gold foil stars place gold foil stars

Step 5

Hold Control and click the layer’s icon to make a selection in the shape of the stars. And then Select > Modify > Contract by 15.

Add a Layer Mask, which will thin out the outline of the stars.

thin out stars thin out stars thin out stars

Step 6

Duplicate Element 17 to add even more stars, making sure to flip and rotate them so they don’t look too repetitive.

duplicate stars duplicate stars duplicate stars

Step 7

Let’s Group all of our current gold elements, name the group Gold Foil, and then clip a New Layer into the group. Set the layer to Overlay and 50% Opacity.

And then, using a large soft round Brush set to white, let’s paint some highlights on each corner of the frame. This will help sell the “gold foil” effect.

add lighting add lighting add lighting

Step 8

Now, we’re going to clean up our design by masking out any details we don’t need. This includes the woman’s legs, the inner stars, and parts of the mountains.

You can also always place your subject first, and then come back and mask if you are unsure what elements to mask or keep.

mask out design mask out design mask out design

Step 9

In a new Group, above the Gold Foil group, drag and drop the Element 16 assets, which are gold foil mountains. Use these mountains to create a new mountain range on the gold foil design. 

Repeat the same steps as with the previous gold elements, including adding highlights and adjusting the Brightness/Contrast.

add brightness contrast add brightness contrast add brightness contrast

Step 10

Do one more round of masking to make sure the mountains and gold foil design match.

Also, create and clip a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer into the gold mountain group, bringing down the Saturation so that it better matches the rest of the design.

adjust hue saturation adjust hue saturation adjust hue saturation

Step 11

We’re going to finish up the gold design by dragging and dropping two images onto the canvas, below the gold design.

First, add the photo of a pastel sky, enlarging it significantly and adding a Blur Gallery blur of 67.

add pastel sky add pastel sky add pastel sky

Step 12

Next, add pastel 23 from the "Pastel Blend - Gradient Backgrounds" texture pack. Make sure it fills the entire canvas and set its Layer Mode to Lighten at 48% Opacity.

lay pastel texture lay pastel texture lay pastel texture

Step 13

And finally, create a Brightness/Contrast adjustment layer set to -66 Brightness and 100 Contrast.

darken pastel darken pastel darken pastel

Step 14

Then we can group these three layers together and mask them so that they’re confined to the shape of the gold design.

I used both the Pen and Brush tool, but you can use whatever method you’d prefer.

mask pastel background mask pastel background mask pastel background

3. How to a Make Crystal Effect in Photoshop

Step 1

Let’s place and extract our subject between the gold foil design group and the gold mountains group. We want her to look as if she's behind the mountains. 

I used Select Subject, added a Layer Mask, entered Select and Mask, and then hit the Refine Hair button for a super quick selection.

Again, use whatever your preferred method is!

extract subject extract subject extract subject

Step 2

We’re going to add some fast backlit hair by duplicating the subject, bringing the duplicate below the original, and then enlarging and flipping the duplicate.

duplicate and enlarge hair  duplicate and enlarge hair  duplicate and enlarge hair

Step 3

Now, we can create and Clip a pastel pink #ffe2f6 Color fill layer into the duplicated subject, masking out the rest of her body.

lighten hair lighten hair lighten hair

Step 4

Next, add some quick highlights and shadows using a mixture of Softlight and Overlay layers clipped into the subject.

Use a mixture of soft and hard round brushes to add white highlights to the hair, shoulder, and hand. Add some shadows to the inner parts of the subject’s hoodie as well.

add highlights add highlights add highlights

Step 5

With the subject done, we can finally add our Photoshop crystallize effect! If not already, make sure your subject is a Smart Object.

We’ll be adding a total of four filters and adjustments, all added as Smart Filters.

Start with Filter > Pixelate > Crystalize, which will be the base for the diamond texture Photoshop effect. You’ll want to play with the Cell Size. I ended up liking a size of 106.

Keep in mind, you can always come back and change this later, as all Smart Filters are adjustable.

photoshop crystallize effectphotoshop crystallize effectphotoshop crystallize effect

Step 6

Second, Filter > Sharpen > Smart Sharpen, setting it to a 500 Amount and a 5.4 Radius. You’ll want to make it sharp enough so that the edges of the previous filter appear to be outlined.

crystal texture photoshopcrystal texture photoshopcrystal texture photoshop

Step 7

Third, Image > Adjustments > Color Balance set to -100, 0, and +100, turning the crystal shapes blue.

add blue tint add blue tint add blue tint

Step 8

And finally, Image > Adjustments > Brightness/Contrast set to -20 Brightness and 100 Contrast.

darken crystallize effectdarken crystallize effectdarken crystallize effect

Step 9

Now, let’s select the Smart Filters layer mask, hit Control-I to Invert it, and then carve back in some crystal shapes.

I like to use a hard round Brush as it’s quicker, but the Pen tool or the Polygonal Lasso tool will give you sharper edges, which is what you want.

This part can take a few minutes, so just focus on the shapes being created and take your time. I also went ahead and turned the lenses of the subject’s sunglasses crystal as well.

add crystallize effect to glasses add crystallize effect to glasses add crystallize effect to glasses

Step 10

With your mask done, finish off the crystals by adding some highlights.

Create a new layer set to Overlay, and Clip it into the subject. Use the Polygonal Lasso tool or a hard round Brush to paint harsh white highlights on the sides of some of the crystals. Focus on the sides that would be catching and reflecting light.

add highlights to crystallize effectadd highlights to crystallize effectadd highlights to crystallize effect

Step 11

Brighten the crystal sunglasses by dragging and dropping another photo of a pastel sky onto the canvas, placing it over the subject’s glasses and then setting it to Screen.

paste pastel sky over glasses paste pastel sky over glasses paste pastel sky over glasses

Step 12

Add a layer mask to the sky image, fill it with black using Control-I, and then mask back in so that the sky only appears inside the lenses. 

mask sky mask sky mask sky

4. How to Use 3D Objects in Photoshop

Step 1

Next up, let’s add a bunch of smaller shards of crystal floating around our subject using just one Blue Crystal 3D asset.

We’re going to do this by choosing View 3D Render, and then rotating and downloading the same crystal at multiple different angles. Download them as a layered PSD, so you can easily turn off the shadow layer.

Try and do at least five different angles so you have a bit of variety, though the more the better!

Step 2

With your crystals downloaded, scatter them around the canvas in different sizes, surrounding the subject.

Try to keep the flow of the image in mind, as well as facing the brighter surface of the crystal towards the light source, which is the subject in this case.

Once you’re happy with your crystals, Group them all together, naming the group "Crystal Shards".

place sapphire in photoshopplace sapphire in photoshopplace sapphire in photoshop

Step 3

Now, let’s add some shine using an Inner Glow and an Outer Glow layer style.

inner glow inner glow inner glow
outer glow outer glow outer glow
glow effect glow effect glow effect

Step 4

Next, we’re going to clip a Brightness/Contrast adjustment layer into the Crystal Shards group. Set it to 99 Brightness.

add brightness to sapphire photoshopadd brightness to sapphire photoshopadd brightness to sapphire photoshop

Step 5

We’ll be finishing up the crystals by clipping both a Lighten and Screen layer into the shards group.

Then, using a large soft round Brush set to a hot pink dd64b5 color and a low Flow Rate, let’s paint an iridescent glow onto the crystal shards.

Aim to create soft blooms of pink inside the crystals. We don’t want them to be solid pink, only partially.

The Screen layer will brighten, while the Lighten layer will give you that inner glow effect.

 how to make a sapphire stone shimmer photoshop how to make a sapphire stone shimmer photoshop how to make a sapphire stone shimmer photoshop

5. How to Create Pastel Highlights in Photoshop

Step 1

Let’s add a final glow by duplicating our Pastel Background group, bringing it above all current layers, deleting the current layer mask, and setting the group to Lighten at 60% Opacity.

duplicate background duplicate background duplicate background

Step 2

Now, let’s add a Layer Mask, Invert it using Control I, and then mask back in some pastel glow around the subject’s hair and body.

Use a soft round Brush set to a low Flow Rate so you can build the glow up slowly.

mask in glow mask in glow mask in glow

Step 3

Finally, create a Curves layer and bring up the Highlights Anchor.

Double-click the Curves layer and adjust the Blend If settings so that the layer only affects the highlights.

Set the toggles to something like you see below, though these settings will change depending on the subject’s skin tone and the overall image brightness.

blend if settings blend if settings blend if settings

Step 4

Now, we can enhance the highlights of the image by masking in areas with a soft round white Brush.

The Blend If settings should keep the lighting out of the shadows, with only the brightest portion of the subject’s face, hair, and body being affected, along with any other areas you want to brighten in the image. 

blend if highlights blend if highlights blend if highlights

6. How to Create a Pastel Color Grade

Step 1

Let’s give one last wash of pastel blues to the whole image, starting with a Color Lookup layer set to HorrorBlue, with a Layer Mode of Color, and an Opacity of 25%.

add color lookup add color lookup add color lookup

Step 2

Next, add a Selective Color layer with the following settings.

adjust reds adjust reds adjust reds
adjust yellows adjust yellows adjust yellows
adjust magentas adjust magentas adjust magentas
adjust whites adjust whites adjust whites
adjust naturals  adjust naturals  adjust naturals
adjust blacks adjust blacks adjust blacks
selective color selective color selective color

Step 3

And finally, a Vibrance layer set to +57 Vibrance.

how to make crystal effect in photoshophow to make crystal effect in photoshophow to make crystal effect in photoshop

You Did It!

And that's how to make a crystal effect in Photoshop! Thanks to Smart Objects and Filters, making a crystallized effect has never been easier. Pair it with pastel blues and gold foil, and you have a mystical yet modern design! 

We also learned how to make a sapphire stone shimmer in Photoshop using only two layer effects, as well as how to use a 3D object to its fullest potential, turning one object into dozens! 

how to make crystal effect in photoshophow to make crystal effect in photoshophow to make crystal effect in photoshop

Looking for More Photoshop Crystal Effects? 

Lens Flare & Stars Photoshop Brushes

Lens Flare & Stars Photoshop BrushesLens Flare & Stars Photoshop BrushesLens Flare & Stars Photoshop Brushes

This giant set of diamond sparkle Photoshop brushes is the perfect way to add a bit of shine to any crystallize effect. If you're wondering how to make a diamond in Photoshop glow, then this is the brush set for you!

Low Poly Photoshop Action

Low Poly Photoshop ActionLow Poly Photoshop ActionLow Poly Photoshop Action

Create an instant Photoshop crystallize effect just like in this tutorial using the Low Poly Photoshop Action! Create a diamond or a sapphire Photoshop effect just by changing an image's color. You can even use this action to create custom Photoshop crystal brushes!

Holographic Glass Text Effect

Holographic Glass Text EffectHolographic Glass Text EffectHolographic Glass Text Effect

While this effect calls itself glass, you can easily imagine it as a sapphire Photoshop effect! Apply it to any font easily by editing the included Smart Object. A diamond sparkle Photoshop brush effect is already applied!

Crystal Power

Crystal PowerCrystal PowerCrystal Power

These Photoshop crystallize effects are actually a set of high-resolution crystal patterns, frames, and isolated PNGs. This pack comes with 12 unique crystals in a wide variety of shapes and colors!

Crystalline Gem Mineral Crystal Drawings

Crystalline Gem Mineral Crystal Drawings PatternsCrystalline Gem Mineral Crystal Drawings PatternsCrystalline Gem Mineral Crystal Drawings Patterns

Use this set of crystal drawings in both graphic design and art projects. Turn the crystal PNGs into a Photoshop crystal brush for an even simpler crystal effect!

Looking to learn more? Why not check out the following tutorials:

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