A Quick Tutorial on Creating and Using Your Own Bokeh Overlays

Some nice bokeh balls can be a great way to add a little something extra to a portrait. This quick tutorial will show you how to take almost any nighttime photo and create your own bokeh overlays using Photoshop.

Coming to you from Jesús Ramirez of the Photoshop Training Channel, this fun video shows you how to create your own bokeh overlays and then easily blend them with any portrait using Photoshop. The idea is pretty simple: you don't need a preexisting shot with lots of bokeh balls, simply a nighttime shot with some lights in it (cities tend to work well). As Ramirez mentions, your photo shouldn't have an overabundance of bright areas, however, lest they'll all bleed together and the result will be too much. Once you've created the overlay and added it to a portrait in Photoshop, remember that you can add a hue/saturation adjustment layer to bring the colors more in line with those of your image (or get really creative if you'd like) as well as a layer mask to help shape the bokeh around your subject. You can also add multiple copies of the overlay and scale them up and down if you'd like a stronger effect.

Log in or register to post comments

2 Comments

William Howell's picture

Is it cheating to add flare or bokeh?
I don’t think so, because they, (they, being old timey photographers), did it at the beginning of photography, right?

I think Jesús Ramirez is one of the better instructors out there and there are lots of good ones.

Dana Goldstein's picture

Or you could buy them for like $8US on Etsy for sets of dozens, in every possible style.