How to Make a Bubble in Photoshop (CS and Higher)

Anyone can create a multitude of objects in Photoshop, from placing bubbles in unusual places to covering barren landscapes in blankets of snow. However, many Photoshop owners don’t know how to simply make these kinds of things. You might even be one of these people!

But don’t worry. You have come to the right place, if, of course, you came here just to make “bubbles”.

Basically, making a bubble in Photoshop can be summed up in four steps, which I will go into more detail in the next couple of paragraphs. The first step is to make a circle selection and fill it in with color. Second, soften the edges around the circle. Next, add a lens flare inside the circle. And finally, remove most of the area inside the circle, except around the location of the lens flair and the sides of the circle.

Step 1. Make a circle selection and fill it in with color

If you haven’t done so already, pull up the image or empty workspace you want to place your bubble in. You can open a new work area by pressing Ctrl+N.

Make a new layer, which can easily be done by holding Shift+Ctrl+N and click “ok” if a box comes up. Next select the elliptical marquee tool. This can be found in your toolbar, which by default is located to the left side of the screen. By holding down the left mouse button on the first button in the toolbar, you can get a variety of options for selection tools. Select the button that has the picture of a circle to get the elliptical marquee tool.

The next thing to do is to click and drag a selection on the image while holding the shift key. Why hold the shift key? Because if you don’t, you’ll get a very weird looking bubble in the end, simply because holding the shift key makes your selection into a perfect circle and no one likes unstable bubbles. Make sure you release the mouse button first before you release the shift key.

After your selection is made, go to “Edit” and click on “Fill…”. A window will pop up and under the option “Use:” select “Color…” and then select a color of your choice and then click ok (twice). Be careful when picking a color! Some colors, like yellow, are too bright and can make it hard for anyone to see your bubble.

Step 2. Soften the edges

Your bubble would not look great if it has hard edges, so let’s soften them. Under “Filter”, move the mouse over to “Blur” and select “Gaussian Blur”. When another window appears, move the slider to set the blur to around 2 pixels and click ok.

Step 3. Adding a lens flair

This will give the bubble a shine. Adding a flair adds an “artificial light source” to the picture. Click “Filter” at the top of the screen, move the mouse over “Render” and select “Lens flair”. Move the lens flair to a nice looking spot by clicking on the little picture. Adjust the brightness to around 100. Make sure the lens type is 50-300mm Zoom. Click ok. By now, your bubble should look more like a sphere than a bubble.

Step 4. Clearing up the area inside the bubble

This is the most critical step in making the bubble. Depending on how well you do in this step critically determines how well your bubble looks in the end.

Look in the bottom right corner for a window called layers. In the bottom of that window, there is a row of small buttons. Click the third one, which looks like a box with a white circle in it. After a black and white picture appears next to your bubble in the layers window, press X on your keyboard. This will switch the black and the white box located near the bottom of the toolbar. The black box needs to be above the white one. This will basically get you prepared to work for the rest of this step.

Select the brush tool by clicking the button in the toolbar that looks like a paintbrush or by pressing the B button on the keyboard. Select a “soft” brush (which looks like a cute fuzzy black circle and has the words “Soft Round” in its title). There are two ways to get different brush selections. One, you can click the tab to the top right of the screen labeled brushes or two, after selecting the brush tool, look to the top left of the screen for a square area with the word “Brush:” inside it and click the drop down arrow. Pick a brush that is about ¼ the size of your bubble.

After you have found a soft brush, look back to the top of the screen to find an option labeled “Opacity:” and change the 100% to 40%.

While inside the circle, hold down the left mouse button and drag the brush inside of the circle, but avoid the shiniest part of the lens flair and the edges of the bubble. Release the mouse button and repeat the previous action until you are satisfied with how your bubble looks. If you mess up, just click around in the history window or use Ctrl + Alt + Z to undo your work.

Press Ctrl+E to merge your layers and you’re done! Don’t forget to save your work (Under “File”)!