Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Coffee With "The Good Witch of the Widwest": Adding Fireworks Photoshop/PSE Tutorial and Giant Free Firework Overlay Set!!!

Rita of CoffeeShop  Blog: I am so excited to share this post with you today, you are going to love it!

Breanne of The Good Witch of the Midwest (Facebook) contacted me a few weeks ago with an editing question:

Hey there!! I have an idea for an overlay and action!! The trending thing now is fireworks overlays. I've done a few with my own fireworks pictures (if you'd like some just let me know) but I'd love to know how to make the background darker without adding another overlay and all that I'll include one of my own pictures I did.

Breanne posted a few examples of her firework images and they were absolutely stunning. We chatted and Breanne told me that she would be willing to not only write a tutorial for my blog on adding firework overlays to images, but she had had a huge set of firework overlays she had created from her own photos that she wanted to share with you!

Needless to say I was completely thrilled, especially with July 4th just around the corner. Breanne, thank you so much for your generosity!!!

I wanted to mention if you are starting with a daylight or bright image, try running my "Dark and Eerie Night" action on the image before adding the overlays. I used that action and this tutorial on this original image and created the firework image above. I will walk you through my own edit using these overlays in a day or two.

Here is a stunning edit from Naomi Thompson Photography using my Dark and Eerie Night action, this tutorial, and The Good Witch fireworks overlay set!

Now on to Breanne's Photoshop/PSE tutorial which includes a free download of 17 gorgeous high-resolution firework overlays (including the one seen above).


Hello, all my wonderful Witchie-Poos! I'm bringing you something completely different today; something I've been working on for the past week. 

I've been seeing some awesome ads from professional Photoshop creators (y'know, the ones that cost an arm and a leg to get and are so flipping pretty that you really wish you could afford to drop a mint on their products but can't because, well... Ya gotta eat?) using spectacular fireworks shots as overlays for pictures. For a minute I was quite disgruntled. Why can't I afford to get those??

And then I was like... WAIT! 

For the past oh... Thirteen years (will be 13 this year! Happy Anniversary, Mr. Good Witch!) I've been taking photos of our families fireworks displays. Cactus Hills Fireworks, a long-time family tradition on my husbands step family side, has been putting on some of the best fireworks displays in the area. And I've had a front row seat for pretty much ALL of them. 

Why don't I use some of my own photos to make overlays? 

So I did:

I found a couple of old pictures and threw them together, then added a BUNCH of my fireworks shots. And voila!

SO I had more fun with it... Although I just didn't care for how this one turned out. The background, while beautiful, was too light so a lot of the fireworks were washed out. So it sit and fumed and fumbled and got ticked off. So I walked away and thought about it some more.

After a lot of hemming and hawing I thought of the solution. The only person I know of that is well versed in this type of thing, that could probably come up with a sollution to my problem was Rita from The Coffeeshop Blog. She's forever coming up with brilliant actions, overlays and whatnot for us greedy photogs to snatch up for nothing. I think out of all the actions I may use in Photoshop, 95% of them are by Rita.

So I sent her a quick missive and the sunflower picture and asked her if there was any way she could help make the background darker and what not, and figured I might be lucky to get a reply. Low and behold, the same night, Rita messaged me back and said that she'd LOVE to learn how to add the firework overlays and help teach her readers to do the same thing! And that she wanted to team up with me to bring y'all a tutorial on how to achieve these effects.

Rita's Note: If you are starting with a daytime or bright image, try running my "Dark and Eerie Night" action on the image before adding the overlays.

I won't lie... I had a major fangirl moment. Like almost in tears. Like had to call my sister who had no idea what I was talking about but was happy for me anyways excited. Like as in if I were a dog, I would have been an overly-excitable cocker spaniel leaving puddles everywhere excited. And it may have taken me a day or so to calm myself down to be able to sit in front of the computer and write this up. But now I'm doing it. 

I've written tons of nail art tutorials over the years, but this is completely different, so please bare with me. You'll need Photoshop (I use Photoshop CS5) but any other version of that is ok. You'll also need a working knowledge of the program, an image of your choice, and any number of the firework overlays I've created for you, which are available for download (Thanks to Rita) here or here.

Alrighty then! On to it, shall we?

 OK. Open your image! This is one of mine, just a beautiful night sky from last year's Supermoon.

Open up the fireworks shot of your choice. With the drag tool selected (the arrow tool), drag the fireworks image to the original image. Using Edit/Free Transform, scale your image to your liking.

Remember perspective!!!

Change the layer to screen.

Look to see if there is a bit of "fallout" from the image ghosting in your original. You can barely see it in this screen capture, but it's way more visible in the regular program.

 Create a layer mask. *see my wonderful rudimentary circle work

 Using the brush tool with black and zero hardness, clean up the layer a bit.

Sometimes, ok... Most times lol I wait until I'm done placing everything where I want it before I go back and clean things up. I just make each individual layer invisible, then open them up as I need to work on them; making them invisible again after I'm done.

You should have a mess like this to deal with, lol! Don't mind overlapping the firework images, it makes it even more awesome looking! When you're completely satisfied, go to Layer/Flatten Image.

You can stop here if you're pleased with the result. If not, there are a few tweaks you can do.

I'm going to use Rita's Define, Vignette and Matte Color actions next. If you need to download them (and the countless other wonderful actions she has), go here.

Rita's Note: If you are starting with a daytime or bright image, try running my "Dark and Eerie Night" action on the image before adding the overlays.

Run the Define action. 

Run the Vignette action. I usually use a full-out feather radius of 250. You can use whatever you prefer.

 It's getting there!!! Layers/Flatten

Finally, run the Matte Color action and adjust the various layers as you like them. 

And you're done! 

Voila!!! How pretty is that?! And you can use it in a million different ways. 

You don't HAVE to do a whole bunch of fireworks. Sometimes just one or two are better:

But if you do want a bunch of fireworks in the background and don't want the hassle of placing each and every one and cleaning them up and all that jazz, you can download my complete firework overlay set here which includes one overlay with all of the layered fireworks already applied and then follow the last part of the tutorial about the actions.

I sincerely have to thank Rita for being such a major catalyst in this tutorial business. I am so new to this kind of thing and she's offered so much help and guidance that it humbles me. If you haven't made your acquaintance with Rita and The CoffeeShop Blog, please do and hop by her Facebook page as well. You'll never regret it! 

Pop by The Good Witch of the Midwest and show some love. Also be sure to check out my blog! Thanks so much for taking the time to read this and I hope y'all can enjoy it!!! If you end up doing anything with my overlays, please let me know! I'd love to see your work!


  1. I couldn't wait to try these out... They are amazing Thankyou soo much Breanne and Rita!! I've used them on a Venice photo I took recently that just needed a je nes sais quoi and this was it!

    1. I hope you post your work on my Facebook page. I would love to see it!

  2. I am looking forward to trying this. Thanks for the great tutorial!