Digital Photography Tutorials

Add heart-shaped bokeh to photos

There’s a certain day celebrating a certain lovey-dovey Saint coming up soon – and whilst I’m not one for ‘Hallmark Holidays’ I’m more than happy to get on board to celebrate love (just not with overly-priced cards/flowers/perfume/chocolates… OK, maybe the chocolates).

A while ago I shared a technique for creating your very own ‘shaped bokeh’ – you can read about it here but in short it simply involves cutting a small shape from some black card, attaching it to your dSLR lens and shooting some out of focus images of fairy lights (or similar pin points of light).

Well, I think a heart would be seasonally apt the moment, non? Plus hearts are dead easy to cut out which maybe a more compelling reason.

Thing is though, you can’t always combine the bokeh with the thing you want featured in your photograph at the same time. Don’t worry though – there’s an easy way to do this in Photoshop.

  1. Take some heart-shaped bokeh shots in low light so your background is nice and dark and you have a nice smattering of love hearts.
  2. Open up the photo you’d like to add love hearts to – obviously I chose a rather lovely (Creative Commons) image of One Direction.
    i heart one direction
  3. Make your One Direction photo the finished size you’d like it to be – lifesize is an option if you have a big enough hard drive (that’s what she said)!
  4. From the main Photoshop menu choose ‘File’ > ‘Place’ and choose one of your heart-shaped bokeh images – keep the shift button held down and drag the corner handles out so that One Direction are completely covered up (don’t worry, you’ll be seeing them again soon). Hit ‘Return’.
  5. Locate the layer with the hearts on (‘Window’ > ‘Layers’) and use the drop-down at the top of the layers palette to select the ‘Screen’ blending mode – you should now be able to see through to those cheeky boys beneath but still have the hearts showing on top.
  6. You can move the hearts around if they’re obscuring the view of your favourite 1D-er – I copied the layer in order to add even more hearts!

So there you go.

Who would you like to cover in hearts this valentine’s day? I’ll assume it’s One Direction unless you comment otherwise! 😉

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  • Reply
    7 February 2013 at 09:08

    Hehe, this post is so much better for using the One Direction photo :)

  • Reply
    7 February 2013 at 10:30

    Oh how I giggle when reading your posts :) This is a lovely technique. Think I’d apply it to… hmm… David Attenborough (in a grand-fatherly way) or Stephen Fry (in an “I know he’s not interested in boobs, but still” kind of way) or, errr… Miranda Hart (in a girl-crush sort of way). Oh-oh! Or Bill Baily or that guy who sits behind the computer with his big black-rimmed glasses on, on Pointless… Or, more embarassingly, to a photo of children’s tv adventurer Steve Backshall. Wait… What? This wasn’t meant to be a post about weird crushes? Oh. Sorry.

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