How to Create Christmas Light Twinkle in Photoshop Elements

Make Christmas lights shine with Photoshop Elements 2019

X-mas twinkle lights

malcolm park/Getty Images

 

When you take photos of Christmas lights, they often don't turn out as luminescent as they look to the eye. You can better capture the brightness of Christmas lights with a camera by using a tiny aperture, or you can add a starburst twinkle effect in Photoshop Elements using brushes.

Instructions in this article apply to Photoshop Elements 2019 for Windows and Mac.

How to Make Christmas Lights Twinkle With Photoshop Elements

To add a twinkle to Christmas lights using Photoshop Elements:

  1. Open your image in Photoshop Elements and select the Expert tab at the top of the workspace.

    Open your image in Photoshop Elements and select the Expert tab at the top of the workspace.
  2. Select the Brush tool from the toolbox, then select the Brush drop-down menu in the Tool Options palette.

    Select the Brush tool from the toolbox, then select the Brush drop-down menu in the Tool Options palette.
  3. In the new window, select the drop-down menu next to Brush and choose Assorted Brushes.

    In the new window, select the drop-down menu next to Brush and choose Assorted Brushes.
  4. Select brush 49 (large starburst) or 50 (small starburst).

    You can also use one of the many custom starburst brushes available for free on the web.

    Select brush 49 (large starburst) or 50 (small starburst).
  5. In the Tool Options palette, select Airbrush (the airbrush icon) and set the Mode to Linear Dodge (Add).

    In the Tool Options palette, select Airbrush (the airbrush icon) and set the Mode to Linear Dodge (add).
  6. Select Brush Settings and set the angle to 5 degrees.

    Select Brush Settings and set the angle to 5 degrees.
  7. Select the Eyedropper tool, then click on the brightest section of one of the bulbs to pick up the color.

    When working with white lights, keep in mind that they are not actually true white; the glow itself will be some shade of yellow.

    Select the Eyedropper tool, then click on the brightest section of one of the bulbs to pick up the color.
  8. Go to Layer > New > New Layer, then select OK when the New Layer dialog appears to create a new layer.

    Go to Layer > New > New Layer, then select OK when the New Layer dialog appears to create a new layer.
  9. Select the Brush tool and click on one of the lights to add a starburst effect.

    Select the Brush tool and click on one of the lights to add a starburst effect.
  10. Select the Styles tab in the bottom-right corner, then choose Outer Glows from the drop-down menu at the top of the Styles palette.

    Select the Styles tab in the bottom-right corner, then choose Outer Glows from the drop-down menu at the top of the Styles palette.
  11. Select Simple in the Styles palette.

    Hover your mouse cursor over each block to see the name for the effect.

    Select Simple in the Styles palette (Hover your mouse cursor over each block to see the name for the effect.).
  12. Click on each light to add the starbursts. Hold down the mouse button to increase the intensity of the effect. Bulbs that are closer to the camera should glow brighter than those that are far away. Likewise, bulbs that are completely exposed should glow stronger than bulbs partially hidden by limbs. 

    Be sure to adjust your brush size to match the bulb. You can adjust the brush size with the bracket keys. Press left bracket ([) for smaller and right bracket (]) for larger.

    Click on each light to add the starbursts.
  13. Go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur.

    Go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur.
  14. Set the Radius to about 1 to take the sharp edge off your twinkles, then select OK.

    Set the Radius to about 1 to take the sharp edge off your twinkles, then select OK.
  15. In the Layers palette, lower the Opacity of the top layer just a little to allow the starbursts to better blend in with the original lights.

    In the Layers palette, lower the Opacity of the top layer just a little to allow the starbursts to better blend in with the original lights.
  16. Once satisfied with the effect, go to File > Save As to save your work as a PSD file or in your preferred image format.

    Once satisfied with the effect, go to File > Save As to save your work.