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alegrI Interactive

Bokeh lights Photoshop tutorial

I was trying to create this love themed cover for our Facebook covers website so thought it's a good idea to share with the rest of the world how to easily create in Photoshop a blurred lights background, In my case I used heart shaped lights for the effect, but you can use pretty much every shape as circles, stars, snowflakes, etc.
So here is how it is done:

  1. Setup your desired size blank canvas and fill the background with a gradient (Press G for gradient tool and then choose or customize the desired gradient at the top). Preferably you should use some darker tones to mimic real life conditions (e.g. night).

  2. Now create a new layer blank layer where we will start drawing the lights (we will have two or three of these empty layers to mimic different focal plans till the end).
  3. Now choose the desired brush (Press B to select the brush and then choose the desired brush and size). In my case I selected the heart shaped one for the effect.
  4. Next step would be to customize the brush a bit in the Brush settings panel (press F5 to open it). I'm using the settings in the image bellow (most importantly scattering which will create multiple shapes randomly placed, and color dynamics which will also randomly color each shape). You will need to play with the settings to get desired effects.
  5. Now paint the layer until you obtain the needed cover, then go to Filters -> Gaussian blur and choose a value that would give the appearance of lights.
  6. For a better effect I like to change the layer's blending mode to "Soft light" and set the opacity to somewhere around 90%. Again it depends allot on the effect you want to obtain.

  7. After you created the lights that are in focus you can create another layer on top of the existing one and paint it with a larger sized brush. This will replicate the lights closer to the camera that are usually out of focus and give a nice depth effect to your image. To get them out of focus just apply again Filter -> Gaussian blur and choose a high value for the blur.
  8. You can do the same if you need to replicate some lights further than the focal plain. Just set the brush smaller than the focused lights and move the layer to the back after applying the Gaussian blur.
You can repeat this process with any shape or colors you need and you can get various color themes by changing the gradient and background and foreground colors for the brush.

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