All That Glitters Can Be Gold

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My Model

The pen tool was used to cut each piece away from its background

All that glitters can be gold if you follow along with another one of my photography tutorials


What if you joined in with 500 other photographers from around the world and were given the word 'gold' to depict through photography or digital art? How would you illustrate that word as creatively as possible?


Well for me I decided to go the 'digital art' way rather than just taking 1 photo.  So I needed a bit of bling, a bit of glitter, a model, some inspiration from a few digital artists and loads of free time.


Firstly back in September I 'recruited' my friend as a model. She's so beautiful and her eyes are stunning.


But for this image I only wanted to take snapshots of her arm. Her hand and one with her hair tied back from her face with her eyes closed. These 'model photos' were taken with a point and shoot camera using its built in flash in artificial light.

Hunting for bling in Edinburgh

Then in October while down at Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh  just opposite from the Scottish Parliament I discovered the Queen's Gallery archway with gold embellishments on the stonework. A few snaps later and my youngest exclaimed that I was acting just like a tourist 🙂  but I had nearly all the pieces I needed!



All That Glitters Can Be Gold - detail from Queens Gallery arch

All That Glitters Can Be Gold - detail from Queens Gallery arch, Edinburgh

Post Editing

  • Back home in photoshop I turned the portrait shots to black and white and coloured the eyelids and lips.
  • Then using the pen tool in photoshop it took a while to cut all the pieces and place them together on the canvas.
  • Next I added the shadows.
  • I created a mirror image of part of the arch and used it to frame the headshot making sure that the brick lines converged into each other.
  • Then I reduced the opacity of the background.


Falling Petals


  • I cut out out one petal from the large gold flower.
  • Using the Edit | Transform and skewdistort, rotate, warp tools in photoshop and changed each of them into their own unique size and shape.
  • Then I placed them as if they were falling.
  • I also used the burn tool to add in some shadows to each piece.
All That Glitters Can Be Gold edit - monochrome with gold accents
monochrome with gold accents

Using Photo Filters


  • I started to add the gold colour to the whole image by using layers of photo filters and adjusted the blend modes and opacity.
  • Then I added a texture I'd made from photographing a piece of canvas.
  • Then adjusted the hue and saturation.
  • I used the texture twice using the overlay blend mode to give a grungy look to the image.
  • I then used a mask and lowered the opacity of my brush and 'brushed away' most of the texture from the face, hands and arm.
All That Glitters Can Be Gold - photo filters used to bring in gold colour
photo filters used to bring in gold colour


Adding Glitter

All That Glitters Can Be Gold - before photoshop glitter is added
no sparkle from the glitter


I'd originally added some gold glitter but as photo filters were added the 'sparkle' effect from the glitter disappeared.  I needed more blingglitter on the eyelids and nails.

All That Glitters Can Be Gold - glitter added via adding noise filter
All that glitters can be gold - glitter and sparkle appear on the eyelids


  • I selected those areas and made new layers.
  • Brushed those areas with a dark yellow colour.
  • Then went to Filter | Noise | add noise and glitter appeared!  I moved the sliders to adjust the glitter effect.

All That Glitters Can Be Gold!

All That Glitters Can Be Gold - glitter added to finger nails
glitter was added to finger nails


Finally I added glitter to the finger nails and I darkened the eyelashes a little more. Then sat back, looked at the computer screen and said 'I'm not doing another thing - it's finished!'


As you can imagine there were a plethora of layers that are not shown here on the screenshots.

Many thanks to Robin Griggs Wood  for choosing this as a 1st Place Winner in the Gold theme over on Chrysta Rae's famous Google + Scavenger Hunt.

Final Processed Image - All That Glitters Can Be Gold

If you've never joined in with the hunt before here's what Chrysta says about it:

I host this event 4 times a year (seasonal) for anyone of any level of photography to participate. I open the game up to 500 photographers. I give you time to shoot and enter your photos. Then I have them judged by amazing photographers.

Follow Rosie Nixon:

Photography Tutor and Gardener

Rosie is a garden photographer, writer and nature lover. She enjoys soaking up nature and is easily distracted from doing the weeding by anything that flutters, flies, buzzes, creeps or crawls! She enjoys sharing the beauty of creation through her photography. Rosie has been featured on TV on BBC2's The Beechgrove Garden and she uses the outdoors as her natural light studio. Her work can be seen at one of Scotland's only photography galleries - Close Gallery, 4b Howe Street, Edinburgh.

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