Creating Christmas Lights in Photoshop Elements

To get the twinkling starlight on the Christmas lights into the camera, we’ll use a small aperture (large F-Stop). It looks like a squint. It also focuses almost everything in your viewfinder, and it takes a lot of light to hit the sensor to capture the scene.

  1. A twinkle in Christmas lights with Photoshop Elements
  2. Christmas light flickering: choose brush and color
  3. Christmas Light Twinkle – create a new layer and style it
  4. Christmas lights twinkling – add starbursts
  5. Christmas Light Twinkle – Latest Twinkle Adjustments

A twinkle in Christmas lights with Photoshop Elements

If we don’t or can’t, we proceed to edit to create a great burst or twinkle afterwards. This is a fairly simple operation, but you should think about your choice.

This tutorial was written with Photoshop Elements 12, but should work with any version. You can practice with this photo by uploading it here. ChristmasStarburstPractice-LM.jpg

Christmas light flickering: choose brush and color

We will be using the starburst brush to create the light effect. The first decision to make is which starburst to use. There are two good brushes that come preinstalled in Photoshop Elements 12 (and most other versions). These brushes are in menu of different brushes after opening the brushes. Find number 49 And number 50 † Sue also has a nice set of starburst brushes from Leprakawn that’s set up as a free download if you’re looking for more shape options.

You have now selected a brush. We need to make some adjustments to the brush options. Get off first brush mode in airbrush mode (click on the airbrush icon). Allows you to add intensity by holding down the mouse button for longer. Then in the drop-down menu next to Mode: (to the right of the brush buttons) select Linear evasion (add) † This allows the original light to come through a bit. Finally click on the button Brush Settings and rotate the brush slightly. I find this makes the effect more organic and less artificial, but that’s personal preference.

Then choose the first color of light you want to work with. Use the tool pipette and select a brightly colored glow on the lamp. Keep in mind that if you’re working with white lights, they won’t actually be white. The glow itself will be yellow.

Christmas Light Twinkle – create a new layer and style it

The stellar eruptions will be plotted on an empty layer so that we have more control over the parameters of the stellar eruptions. To easily create a new blank layer, click Ctrl-Shift-N and press Okay † Now we need to add external glow on everything we make on this layer (so that the star flares shine, and not just stay in the photo). Setting up this glow is easier if you have an initial starburst to view the effect than just setting it on an empty layer. So, with the new layer selected, open the brush and place a star on the light. We offer one that is a little out of the way and not very visible.
Now that you have a visual reference, open the layer style menu and click external glow † Choose a color that is very close to the color of your brush. Then increase the glow until it is slightly diffused on your original stellar glow. Personally, we like to place it where the edges of the glow roughly coincide with the star-forming points. Adjust if necessary opacity you don’t want the glow to be as strong as a starburst.

Don’t worry if it still looks a bit fake; we have other adjustments to make later.

Christmas lights twinkling – add starbursts

To add starbursts, place the brush in the center and Click † Hold down the mouse button until it gets as intense as you want. Remember that bulbs in the front are stronger, and bulbs that are fully exposed are stronger than bulbs partially hidden by the limbs. Don’t forget to adjust the brush size to the bulb as well. The easiest way to do this is: bracket keys † Left bracket for the smaller one and right bracket for the larger one.

Repeat steps three and four for each color you want to add. The photo example above shows different starburst brushes to show the possible styles.

Christmas Light Twinkle – Latest Twinkle Adjustments

Select all your light layers. Go to filter menu and choose to fade and then Gaussian Blur † Use the slider to remove the sharp edge from your glitter. Just a touch of blur is usually all you need. Then adjust a little layer opacity so that your light sources blend in better with the original sources.

If you want, you can now go back and add a small amount of new lights to each layer that stays sharp. This helps to mimic the natural depth of field and disrupts the uniformity of the lighting.

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