Make Bokeh Light Effects Using Adobe Photoshop CS5

Edited by Jmgf, Eng, Nlangster, Lynn and 2 others

Jmgf Christmas-Bokeh.jpg

Bokeh lighting effects are perfect for creating variations to your images, plus it's great for depicting lights, especially during this Christmas season. The term Bokeh has been derived from a Japanese word which means blur or haze. It is a type of lighting effect used in photography to create a soft, out of focus background, and is usually characterized by circle blobs of light, often creating a very dreamy effect on photographs.

This technique can be created by shooting a certain subject while making use of a fast lens at a wide aperture of f/2.8 or wider. In the past, these effects can only be made by using a camera; however the evolution and development of Photoshop and editing software have made it possible to re-create this kind of effect, even without the use of a camera. You don't need to have a D-SLR camera to re-create a Bokeh lighting effect; you can add and make these using the editing features of Adobe Photoshop CS5.

Creating Bokeh Lights on CS5

  1. 1
    Create a blank white canvas
    Jmgf Bokeh1.jpg
    1. Click File > New, OR Click Ctrl + N.
    2. Start off by selecting the dimension of the canvas that you wish: I chose 1600 x 1200 pixels.
    3. Create a new layer by clicking Ctrl + J.
    4. Click the Eye icon beside your layer to disable the visibility of your background layer.
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  2. 2
    Customize your Brush Tool
    Jmgf BokehStep2.jpg
    1. Select the Ellipse Tool.
    2. Click on the Reset Palette button (just below the color palette).
    3. Make sure that you have clicked on the "Fill Pixels" option.
    4. Draw a circle on your canvas. (Hold the SHIFT key while drawing a perfect circle.)
    5. Change your circle's Fill options to up to 50.
      Jmgf BokehS02.5.jpg
    6. Right click on the Layer > Choose Blending Options.
    7. Click Stroke > Choose size: between 8-10 px > Select Position: Inside
      Jmgf BokehS02.7-8.jpg
    8. Make sure that the color of your stroke is black.
    9. Hold Ctrl + Select to choose the layer of the circle. (This will automatically select your circle.)
    10. Click Edit options > Define Brush Preset.
    11. Rename your brush preset with "Bokeh", then click OK.
      Jmgf Bokehs02.11.jpg
    12. You can delete the whole layer afterward.
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  3. 3
    Create a Background Layer (Colored)
    Jmgf BokehS3.1-4.jpg
    1. Fill the your background layer with the dark colored one, but choose a color not entirely black. (For this, I used the color code number: 2A2A)
    2. Create another layer; you can rename it with Gradient and fill it with the same color.
    3. Right click on the layer click the Blending options > Gradient Overlay
    4. Make four swatches of layer with the Gradient Tool, then choose the color according to preference.
      Jmgf BokehS3.6-7.jpg
    5. Set an angle that you wish for your palette. (I used 34 degrees.)
    6. After setting your color palette, change the blending mode > Overlay. Notice that the image darkens a bit, but it'll be perfect for creating Bokeh effects.
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  4. 4
    Create Bokeh Layers
    Jmgf BokehS4.1-2.jpg
    1. Create a new Folder layer > Rename it to BOKEH LAYERS.
    2. Change the blending mode of the folder to: Color Dodge. Every layer that will be created under the folder will now have a blending mode of the color dodge.
    3. Create another layer > Rename it to BACK. This will be your background for your Bokeh effect.
      Jmgf BokehS04.4-6.jpg
    4. Select your Bokeh brush from the brush tool.
    5. Make sure that you choose white as your foreground color.
    6. Click on the canvas to see the effect it will have on your image.
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  5. 5
    Change the Setting of your Brush Tool
    1. Click on the brush tool > On the Brush Tip Shape section, change the spacing to 200%.
      Jmgf BokehS5.1.jpg
    2. Go to Shape Dynamics > Size Jitters: 100% > Minimum Diameter: 48%
      Jmgf BokehS5.2.jpg
    3. Go to the Other Dynamics/Transfer > Opacity Jitters: 50% > Flow Jitters 50%
      Jmgf BokehS5.3.jpg
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  6. 6
    Paint Away your Bokeh
    Jmgf BokehS6.1-2.jpg
    1. Make sure that your foreground color is white. Paint the Bokeh on the BACK layer. Paint light strokes around your canvas. Notice that the size of your Bokeh changes in size, design according to preference. You may fill almost all of the background with your Bokeh.
    2. Click Filter options > Choose Gaussian Blur > Pixels: 20 px.
      Jmgf BokehS6.3-4.jpg
    3. Make another layer and we'll rename it MIDDLE.
    4. Make the size of your brush smaller. Then paint again.
    5. Use Gaussian Filter > Pixels: 4.5 px.
    6. Make another layer and rename it to TOP.
    7. This time, paint your last layer with your Bokeh.
    8. And you're done!
      Digital Bokeh using Adobe Photoshop CS5
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It's easy to make digital Bokeh lighting effects with Adobe Photoshop CS5. Use this as a guide to make your own Bokeh lighting effects designs; it's a great effect that you can use to design your art or your signs, especially during the Christmas season.

Tweak all the figures according to your preferences; what I made are just suggestions on how you can make yours. Remember, the best images are the ones done from your heart. So, enjoy! :)

Questions and Answers

I am unable to find Ellipse tool in my PS CC?

I am trying to follow your tutorial to create Bokeh / Image, but am unable to find the Ellipse Tool.

  1. 1
    If you do not have the tools panel, then click "Windows" and check "Tools" down the list
    In the picture below, you can see the toolbar.
    Make Bokeh Light Effects Using Adobe Photoshop CS5 38879.jpg
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  2. 2
    Now, click and hold the icon that looks like ellipse, rectangle, polygon, line, rounded rectangle, or a star with rounded points (see the screenshot below).
    Make Bokeh Light Effects Using Adobe Photoshop CS5 83516.jpg
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  3. 3
    When you see a menu expanding to the side, move your mouse cursor without releasing the button to the "Ellipse Tool" line and release the button.
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If you have problems with any of the steps in this article, please ask a question for more help, or post in the comments section below.


Article Info

Categories : Software

Recent edits by: jdroc, Lynn, Nlangster

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