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Play With Bubbles & Lights Effects On Photoshop!

In this tutorial, I’ll show you how to create a vibrant and surrealistic light and bubbles effect. We’ll learn about layer modes, the Liquify tool, and the brush tool. This effect is good for creating an eye-catching poster or flyer. Try to experiment with light and color as much as you can!

Software : Photoshop Cs6

Difficulty Level : Advanced

Completion Time: 30min

Step 1

  1. Create a new document; your first layer will be a Color Fill adjustment layer. Refer to the bottom of your layer panel and click on the half-filled circle icon. Select solid color, and fill it with a dark blue (#000618).

For this tutorial, we’ll be using a portrait shot of a woman (#15871607). You could use full body images or objects. Colors and settings will vary according to image.

Extract your main subject from its background using your preferred method. There are many other tutorial dedicated to extracting images, so I won’t be covering it, but I used and recommend the Pen tool.

First, let’s do some color work on our main subject.

  1. Clip a Color Balance layer onto your main subject. Set the setting to -22 red, +6 green and +26 blue.

  2. Clip a Curves layer above the Color Balance layer and set the setting as shown in the image below:

Step 2

Next, we’ll work on creating the background, which will be created using 4 different layers – this is a great time to experiment with both color and light!

  1. Create a new layer above your Color Fill layer, and set it to “Multiply”.

  2. With a very large, soft, round brush, paint the edges of your canvas black.

  3. Create a new layer above that layer and set it to “Screen”.

  4. With a very large, soft round brush set to a bright blue (#305bff), paint a giant blob of color right behind your main subject.

  1. Create another new layer above that layer, and set it to “Overlay”.

  2. With a medium large, soft brush, paint white behind your subject. Make it a bit more concentrated, but still very soft.

  3. Create one more layer above that and set it to “Screen”.

  4. With bright pink color, paint  using a very large soft brush around the edges of the canvas. Set the layer opacity to 40%

  1. Group all these layers together with your Color Fill layer. Name it “Background”.

Step 3

Now, we’re going to add lighting to the face/main subject.

  1. Clip a Brightness/Contrast adjustment layer into the main subject’s layer. Set it to Brightness -18 and Contrast 64.

  2. Create a new layer and clip it above the B/C adjustment layer.

  3. Set that layer to “Overlay”.

  4. With a medium large, soft, round brush set to the same blue that is surrounding your subject (#6392ff), paint around the edges of your subject. I set the brushes opacity to 40% so I can slowly build up color.

  5. When you are done adding your blue, add some pink (#ff2267) in the same fashion, but to a lesser extent.

  1. Create a new layer and clip it above the last layer you created.

  2. Set it to “Screen”.

  3. Now do exactly what you did before! Paint blue and pink on the edges of your subject, lighting it up.

Step 4

Now, onto the bubbles. They’re incredibly easy to create!

  1. Create a circle selection using the Elliptical Marquee tool.

  1. Create a new layer and set its layer mode to “Screen.”

  2. With a large, soft, round brush set to the same blue in the background and an opacity of about 25%, fill in roughly 1/3 of the circle. Focus more on the edges, and middle; paint in a crescent moon-like motion.

  1. With the same brush set to white and with a brush mode set to “Overlay” (which can be changed at the top of the brush tool bar to the left of “Opacity”), paint in the same motion to add a highlight. Just keep building up color and light, while keeping your opacity and flow low.

  2. When you’re satisfied, remove the circle selection. Name this layer “Bubble Original”.

Let’s shape the bubble!

  1. Duplicate your bubble layer and hide the original.

  2. Make a square selection around your bubble. Go to Filter > Liquify. You should see something similar to what you see below:

 Note: Take note of the settings, and make sure “Advanced Mode” is checked.

You want to start pushing and pulling on your bubble in different directions.

  1. Change the brush size when needed, but don’t go too small, or your bubble will not remain smooth. When you’re finished, press OK.

  1. Repeat this step a few more times; the more bubbles the better! Just keep duplicating your original bubble layer and liquifying it.

  1. Now arrange and size them as you like. Feel free to make copies and transform them further. Try to avoid making them look repetitive.

  1. Group all your bubbles together when you’re finished. Name the group “Bubbles”

Step 5

Now, let’s make those bubbles glow! We’ll be doing this in 4 layers.

  1. Create a new layer under your “Bubble” group. Set it to “screen.”

  2. With a soft, round brush set to the same blue as the background and with an opacity of 70% and a Flow of 21%, paint underneath where the bubbles are. This will help make them more solid. Don’t forget to add some some pink to the bubbles closest to the pink glow too!

  1. Create a new layer above your “Bubble” group and set it to “Overlay”.

  2. With the same brush, only this time set to white, paint over the brightest part of the bubbles.

  3. Create a new layer above that one and set it to “Screen”.

  4. Now, with a hot pink color, paint on the ends of the bubbles.

  1. Create one last layer above that and set it to “Screen”.

  2. With the same brush set to blue, paint soft lines on your bubbles, almost as if they were leaving a trail of light.

  1. Group all these layers together in a new group (including your “bubbles” group), and call it “bubbles – complete”

Step 6

We’re going to add some light beams behind our subject.

  1. Create a new layer behind your subject and set it to “Screen”.

  2. With a very large, blue, soft brush, click down once to create a soft circle.

  3. With the Rectangular Marquee tool, select and delete half of the circle.

  4. Squish it horizontally to make it thinner.

  1. Now, rotate it diagonally and duplicate it a few times. Place it in various spots behind your subject.

To add some final touches and bring the whole image together:

  1. Create a Curves adjustment layer above all your other layers. Here are my settings:

  1. Create a Color Balance layer above that layer. Set the settings to red 38, green +5, and blue -22.

I’ve also added a water surface texture to the background. I created a new layer above the “background” group from earlier, set it to “Overlay,”  painted a water surface texture on it using a water surface brush of my own (you can find them all over the Internet), and then blurred the texture using Gaussian Blur set to around 60px.

Step 7

Finally, for the glowing hair and a glowing outline effect!

  1. Create a new layer under the model’s layer and name it “hair strands”.

  2. Now, you can either find a hair strand brush or paint in the hair strands yourself. Either way works. Paint hair strands wherever there’s hair. Think of these as the loose hairs that are catching the light from the background.

  1. Clip a new layer to your models layer.

  2. Using the pen tool, create “creases” of light. To do this, create a path with the pen tool, then select your brush tool and set it to a small hard round brush set to white, then switch back to your pen tool and right click > stroke path. Make sure “Simulate Pen Pressure” is checked. I added them to the hair bun of the model. Add them anywhere the light would most likely be hitting; almost like an outline.

  3. Create a new layer under that layer, and with a small soft round brush set to white, paint around the hair’s edge.

  1. Create a layer below your hair strand layer and with the same brush, but slightly larger, paint a glow around the model – mainly focusing on the hair, and the lighter parts of the model’s edges. Keep it soft, and organic. Set your brush opacity to 30% and slowly build up light.

And you’re done! Good job! Do share your work with us at


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