bokeh-finalThis tutorial explains how to create a bokeh underwater light bubbles effect using Photoshop.

This will include blending colours using hue and saturation and creating a really cool custom brush.

Create a new document in Photoshop with 1920×1200 pixels screen resolution . Fill the background layer with a very dark grey, not black. If you fill it with black the effect won’t work. The color I used was #151515


Select the Ellipse Tool (U), and create a circle. Use black for the color, and go to Layer>Layer Style>Blending Options. Change the Fill Opacity to 50%. After that select Stroke. Use 10 pixels for the size, Inside for the Position and Black for the color.



Select the ellipse and go to Edit>Define Brush. Name your brush and that’s done. Now we have a new brush.


Go to Window>Brushes (F5). The first thing to do in the Brush Engine is to select our new Brush. The size won’t matter because you will change that when you use it. The Spacing, however, is very important. Chage the value to 100%. After that, select the Shape Dynamics, then Scattering and Other dynamics. For the values use the image below.


Before we start painting our bubbles let’s create a new layer and fill it with a colorful gradient. I created a new layer and used the layer styles to do that but feel free to do the way you are used to.

Layer > Layer Style>Blending Options

My gradient settings are as follows: Blend Mode is Overlay, Opacity is 100%, Style is Linear, and the Angle is 40º.

The colors I used are: Blue (#0D283E), Pink (#801258).



Let’s create a new Folder in our Layer Palette. Rename the folder to Bubbles and change the Blend Mode to Color Dodge. Then create a new layer, choose white for the color and select the Brush Tool (B). Now just paint some ellipses with our custom brush. For this first layer use a big size, like 500-600px.


Go to Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur. For this first layer use 20 pixels for the Radius.


Create another layer and paint more brushes. This time however use a smaller size for the brush. After that go to Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur. Use 4 pixels for the Radius.


Create another layer and repeat the previous step, this time however use a much smaller brush. Apply the Gaussian Blur to this layer as well, but use only 1 pixel for the Radius.


Now just add your logo and that’s it. We have a nice wallpaper. The idea of this tutorial was once again to show the power of the Brush Engine. You can try different shapes for this same effect, like hexagons for example. Also you can play a bit with the blurs to add more depth to the final design. Now it’s up to you.


Optional: Logo Design

Create another layer and change the blending option like in the picture below. The code of the Blue color is: #7991f3

Layer > Layer Style > Blending Options > Outer Glow


Select the Brush tool and change the bubble color to #cce5fd

Be creative and fearless to do a complete mess with the shape, in my experience, the messier the better. I hope this tutorial helped you. If so, please let us know more about your artworks and drawings based on this tutorial on the comments. Thank you!


Download Wallpaper Pack


Download the Photoshop .psd File


About the Author: Alex Roman

I’m a 23-year old independent graphic artist based in Romania, Bucharest. I design beautiful, engaging user experiences and intuitive user interfaces for the web. I really love what I do. Want to hire me? Follow me on Facebook or Twitter.

  • Carlton Banks says:

    Nice tut. Thanks, man.

  • Indhira Miraflor says:

    I like your Works… :) keep up a good work.

  • Mitchell says:

    Thank you very much for this great tutorial. Really easy to learn.

  • thoungamba says:

    thanks for sharing..its very useful

  • naho says:


  • davey says:

    doesn’t work for me I think not all the steps are there, everything is okay until Window>Brushes (F5).

  • Chi says:

    i can’t define the shape into brush..

  • VivaNet2.0 says:

    This is a great tutorial! I looked everywhere for a bokeh brush, and didn’t even think to make one myself. Thanks for the post, saved me time and effort!

  • NoName says:

    Somehow that tutorial is a mess-up. The colorcode that’s supposed to be pink is orange (#e40fa5 would be pink) and the description to add a layer style (the gradient in question) on an empty (new created) layer won’t work anyway. The brush setting with ‘pen pressure’ won’t work if there’s no tablet but just a mouse, means the settings in Shape Dynamics do shit. I didn’t continue this any further.

    admin edit: thank you for your observations, we fixed them.

  • Susan Gary says:

    thanks for the tutorial..I finally made a cool bokeh brush in CS5..had to wing it thru a few of the steps as they weren’t the same as stated..but it finally worked out. I see I have saved the brush in the brush amongst the PS brushes..however..I wanted to send the brush to a friend to use..but when I navigate to the brush folder for CS5, I only see the “sets” or folders of brushes that come with PS. Any ideas??? Would love to share with my photog friends. thanks

  • prem says:

    i cant create a brush(define brush is not enabled) after blending the elipse..please any one help me how to define the elipse to brush pattern

  • Damion says:

    Thanks very much for sharing. I learnt a lot & great work…

  • Gail says:

    Your tool to share this on twitter and fb covers the tutorial. How irritating. I love sharing great tutorials when I find them, but wish you could find somewhere to put that annoying share tool!!!

  • kibashi says:

    after creating the circular ellipse, PS CS5 won’t let me define the brush preset, it’s just grayed out. Any ideas?

  • lunetmedia says:

    superb.. thanks a lot for sharing

  • keyuri says:

    nice good bubble

    i like it

  • Creative Logo Designers says:

    We are LogoProDesign as a Creative Logo Designer, We checked your artwork collections. Those are amazed us. Thanks for that type of good work collections. We regularly checked your website for good artwork example.

    David Thomas

  • Shimano says:

    why I can’t click on ‘overlay’? :o
    please help me ;c

  • Ulises Bolivar says:


  • Aisyah Chintya Devi says:

    boleh tau enggak?gimana cara edit seperti ini?

  • Angella Albag says:

    Why i can’t draw an ellipse tool :( how to enter it??

  • cheryl says:

    Could you tell me what went wrong with my procedure? My outline is completely blurred and I can’t get any white tints.

    Many Thanks! You are awesome!

  • Vishu says:

    great tut, here’s what i came up with, work of 5 mins! this effect has great potential if given enough time.

  • admin says:

    the tutorial is very clear, however, you can download the brush form here:

  • Tudor says:

    i cant define the brush to…y fallow the steps but not working

  • maybelle says:

    uhm.. i cant define the brush. it simply cant be how can i solve this? :((

  • camila says:

    Great tips. I was wondering how to make the bubbles so bright… I wasn´t able to get them to shine. Irene L uses a lot of this effect on her pics… can you give me an idea how to make the bubbles brighter and more shinny?

    Thank you!

  • Kushagra says:

    Thanks for the tutorial.. It helped me a lot in understanding the brush engine… :)

  • qammar says:

    Hi! this is very well explain nice tuts. our designer just created a impressive wallpaper.
    any one can see here
    Thanks for sharing,
    qammar feroz

  • Shamima Sultana says:

    Nice work..keep it up

  • amit says:

    Hi- for some apparent reason it does not let me select the define preset button- to enable it to be a brush?

    can anyone please help- ive been racking my brains over this for a long time!



  • Mrpant says:

    Great effect. I started to use this when I first read it on psdtuts.

  • Liminal Web Design Cornwall says:

    How amazingly simple, I’m starting to look effects like this for website design backdrops so these tips are ideal.



  • mauie says:

    This is a very good tutorial. Been looking everywhere for a tutorial on this kind of effect. Thank you. :)

  • Zim says:

    It worked very well, excellent tutorial!

  • admin says:

    At first i didn’t know why to credit you, i found the video directly on Vimeo. I changed my article and now you have a direct link to your post.

  • Benjamin Reid says:

    Erm… Do you mind crediting me for my video tutorial?

  • admin says:

    @Joris: i simply love it, great work!

  • Joris says:

    Thanks this tutorial is really easy and helpfull.
    This is my outcome:

  • Tom - New Evolution Designs says:

    Very nice tut. Just downloaded the file, thanks!

  • wenshen says:

    This was excellent! I’ve been looking for this tip for a long time also. Thanks for the post.

  • Joefrey Mahusay says:

    Awesome tutorial I will surely try this. Thanks.

  • Gorny S. Needa says:

    Wow so simple yet effective. This is one that i will try, Thanks.

  • kailash says:

    Awesome tut. I love your site

  • Novy says:

    this tutorial is delicious. thanks for the help and I will definitely be using this to spice up my designs.

  • Clay Jackson says:

    Thanks for the great beautiful tutorial. you are one of a kind who have taste creativity on colors and photoshop. Thanks!

  • Rick M. says:

    I’ve been looking for a tut like this so I could include this style wallpaper in my website.

    Thank you!

  • Andrew says:

    Simple and effective design. The blurred background really pulls it together.

  • Sandy says:

    Awsome, great tutorial! Simple and beauty.

  • Joan Iguban says:

    Simple yet effective.


  • Heatherina says:

    Great Tutorial! Thanks for the PSD!

  • AGt says:

    Wooow!! Really good and easy effect. Thanks for sharing. Good Luck

  • Jonathas Scott says:

    Thank you for a great wallpaper, it looks great on my laptop. I will try my hand at the tutorial and see how my one turns out lol lol. Thanks again

  • Ferreira Dani says:

    Wow, this is neat! I’ll give it a try.
    Thanks for the post.

  • Danielle says:

    Excellent tutorial. I love the simplicity and uniqueness of this one, plus the effect can be used in a variety of ways, which is great. Thanks for sharing this tutorial, keep up the good work!

  • kuekinhas says:

    Great tutorial, I liked a lot it’s simplicity.

  • Bobby says:

    Hey! Thanks very much for the tut, its briliant, will experiment with it a bit ! :D
    thanks a again

  • Olive says:

    This is awesome. I’m well making something like this tomorrow! :D