Linda Sattgast

Christmas Ornament

By Linda Sattgast

At our house, decorating the Christmas tree is a festive family tradition. Shiny or decorated bulbs constitute a significant percentage of our Christmas ornaments, so I thought I would share a tutorial on how to create a digital bulb using a favorite photo.

Make a Selection On your Photo

  • Open the photo you want to turn into a Christmas ornament. (File > Open) The best kind of photo is one that has some space around the main subject.
  • Get the Elliptical Marquee tool. In Tool Options, click on the New Selection icon. Feather should be zero and Aspect Normal. (Photoshop: Style should be Normal.)
  • Click in the center of your subject’s face (or whichever area you want the least amount of distortion. Then add Alt Shift (Mac: Opt Shift) and drag outward to create a selection outline. Don’t allow the selection to go outside the bounds of your document. When you’re satisfied, let go of the mouse, and then let go of the keyboard keys.
  • Press Ctrl J (Mac: Cmd J) to copy the selection to a new layer.
  • In the Layers panel, click on the Visibility icon of the Background layer to hide it.

Distort with the Spherize Filter

  • Ctrl click (Mac: Cmd click) on the thumbnail of the new layer to bring back the selection outline.
  • In the Menu Bar, choose Filter > Distort > Spherize.
  • When the dialog box comes up, adjust the percentage of the preview image until you can see the entire ornament in the Preview window.
  • Adjust the Amount slider. Most of the time you’ll need 100%. The Mode should be Normal. Click OK. Your photo will appear slightly rounded.
  • If you want a rounder effect, you can run the filter again.

Optional: Add a Reflection

  • In the Menu Bar, choose Filter > Render > Lens Flare.
  • When the Lens Flare dialog box comes up, choose “105mm Prime” and click on your photo preview where you want the cross-hair, or the brightest center of the flare, to be. Adjust the slider to the brightness you want and click okay.
  • Press Ctrl D (Mac: Cmd D) to deselect.

Add the Ornament Hanger

An ornament hanger is the finishing touch you need to make your Christmas ornament look authentic.
Click here to download the ornament hanger

  • Open the ornament hanger, and with the Move tool, click and drag it onto your photo.
  • Move the Christmas ornament and hanger until they are lined up.
  • If you need to resize either the photo or the hanger, press Ctrl T (Mac: Cmd T) to get Transform options. Click and drag from a corner handle to resize. (Photoshop: press Shift as you click and drag from a corner handle.) When you’re satisfied, double click inside the outline to commit the change.
All-Season Snow Globe

Learn More

If you enjoyed this tutorial, you’ll love our All Season Snow Globe mini class! It contains a glass globe template that you can use on your Christmas ornaments to make them even more shiny.

Find out more about the Snow Globe class.