“Sparkle” Photoshop Elements Tutorial

October 2, 2007

in Andrea Riley, Photography Tutorials, Photoshop Elements

Guest Contributor: Andrea Riley from Happy Chaos

{Click on any photos in this tutorial to see them in a larger size.}

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Photoshop Elements owners…don’t despair when you see tutorials for the full version of Photoshop. I have found that Elements has many of the same options, and those options that aren’t available can be worked around.

Before diving into this tutorial, I want to preface it with a disclaimer. I bought Elements in August and am solely self-taught. This means that there are many things I do not know about it. Let me tell you, I learned tons of new things from Gina’s tutorial. There are also many times that a simple google search brings me a wealth of information.

I am going to try to follow Gina’s directions as closely as possible while including some adjustments of my own.

Original Photo:

1. I took the RAW version and made some adjustments in exposure and brightness. I then opened it up in Elements.

2. I took the Healing Brush tool (bandaid) and used it on Wonder Girl’s nose, under her eyes and a couple other areas of her face. I usually use the Healing Brush tool rather than the spot healing tool when I have large areas to do (like under the eyes) because the spot healing tool leaves an obvious texture in large areas.

The Healing brush tool requires that you Alt-click on a good area of the skin. You then run the brush over the parts that need healing. (Do you know how badly I’d love to have this magic brush in real life?) I often Alt-click in several different areas trying to match the skin tones. When selecting the bandaid, it may be on the spot healing tool. If so, just right click on it and click on the second bandaid.

3. Another step I like to take is adjusting the skin color. (Enhance –> Adjust color –> Adjust color for skin tone) There is a little dropper you can click on the skin, and Adobe tries to determine the correct skin color. I usually don’t like the default, so I slide the “tan” and “blush” sliders (usually to the left) until I get the skin color I want.

4. Now I’m going to work on sharpening up the eyes. I always make a duplicate layer when I do this. Hopefully the reason why will become clear in the next couple steps. I use the duplicate layer when working on the eyes.

5. I use the lasso tool to select the entire eye. Typically, I just lasso the iris, but I felt like the eye lashes needed some definition here too. Go to Enhance –> Unsharp Mask. In Pioneer Woman’s tutorial on sharpening the eyes, she makes it very clear to set the radius at 3.6 and the amount no higher than 100. (Pop up to step 3 to see the difference in the clarity of the eye.)

Note: The danger of going over 100 is that the eyes start looking fake. I ended up stopping at 93. I repeated this step on the left eye. Even though I liked the sharpness of the iris and eyelashes, I felt like the whites of the eye looked fake.

6. This is where the duplicate layer comes in handy. I hit on the eyeball to the left of the base layer so that I don’t see it. I then pick the eraser, adjust it to a usable size and erase the whites of the eyes on the duplicate layer. By making the bottom layer invisible, it allows me to see what I have erased more easily. When I am finished, I click back on the eyeball to the left of the bottom layer so that the bottom layer appears. Now the original whites of the eyes show through. This would be a good time to flatten the layers.

7. After that, make a levels adjustment layer.

8. A box pops up. I slide the little arrows around until I get the lighting I want to achieve. (There are 5 adjustment arrows.) I made Wonder Girl’s face a little lighter than I normally would. In this case, I felt a lighter skin tone kind of fit her expression and accentuated her eyes. (The advantage of adjusting the lighting with a layer is that you can delete that layer if you decide you want to go back.)

9. I then right-clicked on that layer and flattened the image.

10. Next, I opened the bokeh (glitter) image that Gina used (found here). I dragged the image up on to Wonder Girl’s image. I then resized it over top of it. A pop-up might appear here letting you know to simplify the image so that you can edit it. Just choose “Okay”. This image should now appear as a layer to the right.

11. Click on the glitter layer. Then, instead of the default “Normal”, use the pull-down menu at the top of the layer’s menu to choose “Overlay”. You’ll notice the glitter layer becomes much lighter.

12. Make sure you still have the glitter layer highlighted. Choose the eraser. At the top of the screen, change it to an airbrush, adjust the size and then brush over Wondergirl’s face. As Gina mentioned, if you are nervous about the edges being too obvious, lower the opacity of your brush as you go along the edges. This way, any mistake won’t be nearly as obvious. (This option is also at the top of the screen.) When I think I’m finished, I click on the eyeball to the left of the bottom layer. This makes it obvious whether I missed any glitter on the center of the face. Click on the eyeball again for Wonder Girl to reappear.

(Gina used a layer mask here instead of the eraser. The advantage of a layer mask is that changes are reversible. Painting with black erases; painting with white brings it back. The eraser was the easiest for me to explain, but if you’d like to know how to create a layer mask, there is an excellent tutorial here. There is also a free layer mask action that is compatible with Photoshop Elements here. It makes it a breeze to use layer masks.)

13. Adjust the opacity of the glitter layer to your tastes.

14. Flatten the image. Then grab the crop tool. Make sure that you have selected “No Restriction” at the top of the screen. To rotate the crop tool, put your arrow along the edge of the crop. The arrows will change and allow you to adjust the angle of the crop. You can also grab the box and move it around and adjust the size of your crop box until it is to your liking.

15. There you have it…blemishes gone, exposure lightened up, texture added…Just one of the many things you can do with Elements!


We can’t thank Andrea enough for taking the time to complete this amazing tutorial for all of us. We hope that you all learned something that will help you with your photography editing skills!

~Amy & Angie
co-founders of I Faces

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