I was asked how I made the ghostly effect for Myrtle in one of my LEGO photos, so below I am going to go through the steps that it took to create the image. I will also share the Lightroom settings I used to colour grade the image. I hope this inspires you for your next photograph.

Before and After Comparison

Step 1

This is the baseplate photo, which we will use to make it look like Myrtle is floating in the air.

Step 2

This is the main image, complete with Myrtle on her transparent support peg (supplied with the minifigure). This photo was shot before the baseplate photograph and I then removed Myrtle, while taking care not to move any of the other pieces in the scene.

Step 3

Next, we select the layer with Myrtle and add a layer mask. With the layer mask selected, I used a combination of the Polygon Lasso tool to select the area around the support peg and filled with a black colour which hides it. In this instance, I was left with some slight tonal variance between the background MOC in both layers due to shadows cast by Myrtle, but I was able to conceal them by taking a soft brush and painting lightly on the mask to blend it in.

Step 4

Once you have the support peg completely masked out, select the image (in the layers panel, simply click on the image thumbnail) and set the opacity to 30% to start giving Myrtle her ghostly look. Notice how Myrtle is the only element that changes in the scene thanks to the baseplate we created at the beginning. We could leave it there, but I wanted to take it a step further by giving her a ghostly glow.

Step 5

For the ghostly glow, create a new layer and select a large, soft brush and start painting some blue around the shape of Myrtle. I used a 400px brush with the brush opacity set to around 20% and hardness set to 0%. Sorry, that I don’t have the exact values I used, but that’s pretty close. You may want to experiment with your own settings to find a look that you feel is good. But wait, why is Myrtle almost hidden now?

Step 6

With the blue colour layer still selected, set the layer mode to Soft Light. This will start to give us the glow effect we’re after. We’re getting close, but we’re still not done.

Step 7

Let’s start giving that ghost glow some extra punch by adding a couple layer effects. Double click the blue colour layer and add an Inner Glow with these settings:

  • Blend Mode: Vivid Light
  • Opacity 15%
  • Noise: 0%
  • Select a very light blue for the colour
  • Source: Edge
  • Choke: 0%
  • Size 9px
  • Contour: Linear
  • Range: 50%
  • Jitter: 0%

Step 8

With the Layer Style panel still open, add an Outer Glow. This will add the bulk of the glow effect. Use these settings and feel free to adjust to your liking:

  • Blend mode: Vivid Light
  • Opacity: 100%
  • Noise: 0%
  • Select the same light blue as used for the Inner Glow
  • Spread: 0%
  • Size: 250px
  • Contour: Half round (antialiased checked)
  • Range: 100%
  • Jitter 0%

Final Photoshop Edit

And that’s it for editing in Photoshop. Make sure you’ve set the blue colour layer mode Soft Light to get the correct effect. Read on to see how I got the final colour grading of the photo I posted to Instagram.

Lightroom Editing

I’m rarely satisfied with the final colour grading once I’ve done any Photoshop edits, so I usually head back into Lightroom to make final colour adjustments that will suit the scene. For this Myrtle photograph, I wanted to create a look that felt a bit cinematic. To achieve that, you can see a screenshot below of the settings I tweaked in Lightroom. I don’t have any formula for this, so it’s really a case of tweaking until satisfied (or as close as possible!)

Get in touch

You can see the final image over on my Instagram page. There’s also a short behind the scenes video so you can see how the whole scene is setup. I’d really love to hear from you if you found this article useful in anyway, so please don’t be shy and leave a comment (and a like) on the Instagram post.