I received an email from someone who had seen my tutorial on using Alien Skin Bokeh. They were having trouble getting the heart affect while using the plug-in and sent along an image to demonstrate. Indeed, they had little to no hearts after running the filter. The problem was that they had no specular highlights in the background, which is key to the formation of the little hearts. The good news is that you can add this affect without having the highlights in the original image.
Here’s a quick way to make it happen. First open your image and then apply any Bokeh effect that you need to the image to soften the background.
Photo by Ⅿeagan
Next, add a layer above the background and then add some small color dots around the image using a small, hard-edged brush.
Next, go to the Filters menu and select the Bokeh plug-in. When the dialog box opens, make sure to put a checkmark in the Create Output In New Layer Above Current option. Select Heart of Hearts from the Diaphragm Shape drop-down and then adjust the Bokeh Amount and Creamy (%) settings.
Finally, go back to the layers pallet and delete the original layer that had the dots that you painted. This will leave the soft bokeh hearts behind. You can lower the opacity to achieve just the look that you are after.
You can find even more tutorials at the Alien Skin website.