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How to Add Special Effects in Photoshop

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Adding Special Effects to images can actually be incredibly simple! All it takes is a little practice with blend modes, Adjustment Layers, and Layer Masks. Learn How to Add Special Effects in Photoshop in today’s episode!

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Get Started Here: Download the Sample Image

Getting Started

To create an awesome final product, we use multiple images from a recent photoshoot. They are available for download in the link above!

The base image comes directly from the photoshoot; we used sparklers to Light paint around the model. From there, we can add elements from other photos to enhance the overall effect. Don’t be afraid to keep outtake images, because bits and pieces can often be taken from them and prove quite useful.

Layering using Blend Modes

To start, load all of your files into Photoshop. A quick way to do this is by going to File – Scripts – Load Files into Stack. Then, you can Shift + Click on all of the files and then open them at once. Once your images are loaded, it is really just about playing around!

To eliminate the darks in a layer, change the Blend Mode to Screen. For the image we work on in this episode, the Screen Mode is vital to get the look we want. It leaves just the glow of the sparklers as well as other exciting bright elements! We end up adding some blurs that came from outtakes with people moving, as well as small pops of Light. You can think of it as Making a Collage in Photoshop!

You will most likely need to mask out unwanted areas even after the Screen Blend Mode has been selected. You can create a Layer Mask on the layer, and then paint over it with black (using the Brush Tool) to hide those unwanted spots.

Transform & Duplicate

Don’t be afraid to experiment with the Size and position of your layers. Hold Ctrl/Cmd + T to do this. You can also duplicate any layer by holding Ctrl/Cmd + J, which can add exciting detail when you start to layer images on top of each other.

Levels Adjustment Layer

For an added wow factor, we bring in a galaxy image from Fotolia. It has some Light blue haze that we don’t want in the final image, so to fix that we change the Blend Mode to Screen again and then create a Levels Adjustment Layer. Hold Ctrl/Cmd + L to do so. Then, drag the black slider in towards the center of the Levels graph. This should eliminate those dark/Midtones that were too distracting before. You can use a Layer Mask once again to include only certain areas.

As you can see, there’s not much to adding Special Effects! The keys are Blend Modes, Adjustment Layers, and Layer Masks. Remember to keep on experimenting by duplicating and transforming your layers! There is no limit to what you can create in Photoshop.

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