Thursday, June 27, 2013

CoffeeShop MoonLit Fairy Dust Tutorial and Action, Part 1!

I wanted to mention that my maternity shoot yesterday was incredible.  I haven't shot one in years so it was outside of my comfort zone, but I know my camera, understand light pretty well, and had the perfect couple to photograph.  There is nothing like photographing a young couple in love, expecting their first child.

And they were so patient, even though it was late afternoon and close to 100 degrees in the sun.  I will post some of my pics hopefully by this weekend.  I came home so excited.  I had forgotten the thrill of a great photo shoot.  I have to start doing more so I can grow as a photographer.

Unfortunately I woke up in the middle of the night with a sore throat that felt as though I were swallowing razor blades.  We went to Galveston this weekend and the pool was pretty icky due to all of the people, so I might have picked up a bug.  I wasn't in close contact with my couple (we drove our own cars and we were outside in the fresh air), so thankfully they should be fine.

Today I am going to show you one method to create a beautiful moonlit fairy dust image.  I used a wonderful SOOC image from Becky on this tutorial/action.  This is a really fun edit and I hope you enjoy playing.

This tutorial/action is for intermediate to advanced users of Photoshop/PSE. You must be able to paint on layer masks (tutorial here) and add textures.  Today is part 1 of the tutorial, the rest is posted here.

CoffeeShop MoonLit Fairy Dust Tutorial, Part 1 (Part 2 here!):

This image is perfect for this effect/action.  Notice it is low in contrast (taken in open shade) and the background is almost equally dark. You don't want areas of dappled light in the background.  However, there are some things you can do to optimize your image for this action/effect if your lighting is not idea.

For images that have bright backgrounds:  Open your image (this one was already perfect, but I will go ahead and show you how you would do this on your own images) add a levels adjustment layer and move the gamma (middle) slide to the right and the right side Output Levels slide to the left until your image has low contrast and is darker.  Don't overdo this step!  You can also use the burn tool to darken areas that are still too light.

Use the layer mask to paint out your subject (this keeps the background dark) and then flatten your image.  Now you are ready to start the action.

Run the CoffeeShop MoonLit Fairy Dust action on your image. Your image will probably look horrible at the conclusion of the action run.  This is normal!   You will want to paint out your subject from most of the layers.  I am going to show you a quick method that works in both PSE and Photoshop.

The first thing I do is adjust the darken layer's opacity to taste.  I want the background dark but not completely black.

Select a 50% hard black brush at 50% opacity and click on the top layer mask (Color Fill 1).

Paint out your subject.  If you want to see where you are painting as seen in this image, hold alt/option and shift and click on the layer mask. Do the same to remove the red paint effect.

I am using a 50% opacity brush because I don't want her skin-tone to be daylight warm;  I want it to be somewhat cool as if it is night.  As you can see I did a quick and dirty job of painting on her face/body and need to go back over the edges.

My edges are now cleaned up.  It is best to do a really detailed job on this step. You can always tweak it later, but I plan on copying this layer mask to the other layers so I want it to be as perfect as possible.

If you have Photoshop you can simply hold alt and drag your layer masks on the other white layers to replace them.  However, PSE users don't have that luxury (at least I haven't figured it out yet!) so I found a nifty go-around. You don't have to do this step if you would rather paint on each layer individually.  ;-)

Hold down alt or option and then click on the layer mask.  You should see your image turn white and gray.  Then Select, All and Edit, Copy.  Click on the next white layer mask down to select it and Edit, Paste.  Continue to click on the white layer masks and Edit, Paste until all of the layer masks are filled.

As you can see, all white layer masks have the same gray painted area.  Now I can fine-tune the layers and adjust their opacities to taste, if needed. Sometimes I use a low opacity brush to remove or add even more of the layer's effects.

Now we want to add the fairy glow.  Click to select the black mask on the Fairy Light layer.

Use a large soft white brush at 30% opacity or so, and brush over the area you want to lightened.  You might want to brush it 2 or 3 times. Once it is perfect you are ready to add fairy dust!  That part of the tutorial will continue here.

I hope you had fun learning one way to edit fairy dust fantasy images!  I will also write an Action UnWrapped tutorial on this edit for those of you who want to see what is going on "under the hood" when the action runs.

Download the free CoffeeShop Moonlit Fairy Dust action/brush/texture.

Do you want to download thousands of professional CoffeeShop PSE/Photoshop actions (including exclusive ones not found anywhere for free), textures/overlaysscrapbooking papersclip art/design elementsphoto storyboards and frames, and Lightroom presets from this site in one convenient zipped file AND help support this one-woman blog? 

Just click here for my CoffeeShop Mega Download Pack!


  1. I'm really liking this one so far!! I have learnt so much about Photoshop by using your tutorials and actions! Thank you all the way from Australia!! I am eagerly awaiting the next step!!

  2. Dear Rita,
    Thank you so much for generous sharing with us your knowledge and beautiful creations. Thank you so much for your kindness and God bless you.

  3. Hi there! I would LOVE to play with this! I have started doing conceptual fantasy art and this is by far the best glitter/fairy dust action I have found. from what I read you are offering it free, however I am having a lot of problems downloading it for some reason. If you have time would you mind sending it to my email at ? When I use it I will email you back my images I used it on! You can check out my facebook business page for some of my recent fantasy composites at Tara Eveland Photography! Thank you!

  4. Thanks for sharing all of these fun and creative actions! I wish you even more success in your life and career! I really appreciate it. I have learned so much by using your actions and I use them all the time in my client's photo editing. Thanks a bunch!

  5. I wish this worked with creative cloud but for some of the steps, it requires me to do steps not in your tutorial so I'm having a hard time getting the desired result. Back to the drawing board I guess.

    1. I have Photoshop CC also and this works fine. Where are you having problems? My screenshots are PSE but the steps are the same in Photoshoo.


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