The holidays are more than just decorations and food. The little details make each Christmas special and different than the year before. Some families like to put up the traditional tree, wrap presents in a color and patterned theme, volunteer together, travel to see family, and (of course) eat! Are you ready to add Christmas Cheer to photos?
There’s magic in the air when you’re surrounded by friends and family, when the fireplace is lit while the snow is falling, and while you’re sharing all you have with others.
I love to document the details of events and travels. The presents under the tree, the decor, the food, the gifts, and all the little things that make the holidays special are perfect subjects to photograph. But how do you capture the warmth and glitz or the perfectly decorated tree? And how do you add a little bit of holiday cheer and magic to holiday photos?
1. Open Your Image in Photoshop
The first thing I did was open my image in Photoshop. You can open your image in any of our host editors. To see a full list of available editors, check out this article on host editors.
As always, you’ll want to duplicate your original layer to preserve the original image. You can go up to your Menu, select Layer, and then Duplicate Layer.
A helpful window will pop up. You can change the name of the layer here and assign it to an open file that is not the same as the source file. Select OK.
You will now have a duplicate layer, which you can see in the Layers panel of Photoshop.
QUICK TIP: You can also duplicate your original layer by clicking on it and holding down, then dragging it to the New Layer icon in the Layers panel, which is shown in red in the example image below.
2. Using Glow
Now that we have a new layer to work with, let’s go ahead and open Glow!
Glow is a fantastic program and one of my favorites. It has the ability to enhance color, vibrancy, contrast, sharpness, and more. And it’s fun! You can make adjustments as extreme or as subtle as you like.
To open Glow, you will go to the Menu, select Filter, go down to Topaz Labs, and then select Glow.
Glow will open up and show your image to the left. We’ll be using an effect that is in Glow 2. Navigate to the top right corner of the program and make sure you are browsing all local effects.
You can now browse through all of the included effects of Glow.
For Christmas photos, you’ll want a colorful, warm effect. Navigate to the effect “Bloom” and select it. A blue border will appear notifying you that the effect is active on your image.
If you look up towards the top of the program, you will see viewing options.
Select the second option to see the entire image with the Original image (left side) and the image with the effect (right side). You can also click and move the edge of the preview to see how it affects the image!
I really like this preset, but I’d like the image to be more colorful. You can change the Opacity of the overall effect by using the slider in the bottom right corner of the program. I set the Opacity to 0.60 to increase the overall effect.
You can now see how colorful and vivid the image is!
Select OK in the bottom right-hand corner to return to Photoshop.
3. Back in Photoshop
Once you return to Photoshop, you’ll want to make notes on the edit you just made. Double click the layer name (Background Copy) and type in “Glow – Bloom Opacity 60.” You’ll have the edit information as a reference in case you ever need to know what you did!
If you did a different edit to your image, change the Layer name to reflect that edit.
Christmas time is filled with sparkle and magic. To emphasize this, we’ll be adding one more effect to the image. Go ahead and duplicate the Glow layer. If you need a reminder, head up to Step 1!
4. Using Star Effects
Now that we have a new layer to work with, let’s go ahead and open Star Effects!
Star Effects is a really fun program where you can add glam, glitz, sun flare, and sparkle to any image. This program is really fun because you can accentuate light sources, stars, and more! You can make adjustments as extreme or as subtle as you like.
If you don’t have Star Effects, you can download a free 30 day trial to see what it can do!
To open Star Effects, you will go to the Menu, select Filter, go down to Topaz Labs, and then select Star Effects.
Star Effects will open and you will see premade effects to the left. There are a variety of effects to choose from. I like the glitz of a nice defined light source, so I chose City Lights II.
I always like to customize the premade effect to enhance my image perfectly. If you look to the right, you will see the Adjustment Panel.
The first adjustment I made was to the Star Settings. I changed the Star Type to North Star. Why? Because I liked it! No other reason. Check out the different star types and select the one that works best with your image.
The next adjustment I did was to the Main Adjustments. The changes I made increased the luminance of the light source glow and reduced star points for a more natural look.
If you’ve read any of my other tutorials, you’ll know I love color! I increased the color ambiance and effect to add a little more magic and interest to the holiday image.
To add a little more detail, I increased Secondary Points. This added smaller detailed rays of light, while increasing Glow made the soft lighting effect around the light source more prominent. And just for fun I bumped up the ring flare to add just a hint of glowing edge around the light source.
I really want to encourage you to play around and have a good time in Star Effects! You can add subtle flare and astonishing lighting effects all within this program.
When you’re done editing your effect, click OK in the bottom right-hand corner to return to Photoshop.
5. Back in Photoshop Again
Upon returning to Photoshop, you’ll want to rename your layer.
You can now perform any edits in Photoshop. When you are done, save your full size image as a .PSD file so that you can return to your layered file whenever you need to. Go to the Menu, select File, and then Save As. Select your destination and rename the file if you need to, then click Save. Your .PSD file is now saved!
If you need to crop your image or resize your image for internet use, go ahead and do that now. You can then Save As and select .JPEG to post your image online!
Now you can add Christmas Cheer to all your holiday photos! The sparkle, saturation, and warmth added to your images is sure to turn your pictures into frame and album worthy memories!
Add Christmas Cheer to Photos Gallery
Thanks so much for reading about how to illuminate your holiday pictures with Topaz Labs! I hope you learned a little today and had some fun with Glow and Star Effects.
I also want to personally invite you to check out Topaz Labs on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram and see what other users are creating. We also offer free Webinars and have a great Discussion Forum if you’re interested in learning more!
About Jodi L. Robbins
Jodi is currently the Art Director of Topaz Labs. She has been an artist and photographer for over 15 years, starting with black and white film photography and alternative processing. After completing her BFA in Studio Art from Southern Methodist University and her Masters in Photography from Savannah College of Art and Design, she worked in product photography for companies such as Heritage Auctions, Neiman Marcus, and the Dallas Cowboys.