Create a set of operations with the bokeh effect in Photoshop

Welcome to our lesson in Photoshop, where you can learn how you can add a bokeh effect to a photo in just one minute.

This beautiful effect can now be applied to any photo almost instantly! Using a saved set of operations in Photoshop, it is easy to apply to handle all your portrait or landscape photography. Check out our incredible set of Photoshop Actions bokeh examples available on GraphicRiver and Envato Elements for more powerful effects.

Download the archive with materials for the lesson

Note: The author used paid materials. In the archive you will find an alternative version of the images to perform the lesson.

Step 1

Start by creating a custom brush. Select a hard round brush, press F5 to open the brush properties palette, adjust Scattering (Scatter) up to 1000%, check the box Broadcast (Transfer) and Smoothing (Smoothing), and then Save (Save) your brush so that we could use it later.

Step 2

Now go to Window (Window) – Operations (Actions) (Alt + F9) and create a New operation. When you are ready, click Record (Record) at the bottom of the panel to start recording the next steps. You can call it bokeh.

Step 3

Open the photo Girls in Photoshop.

Hint! Try to choose a photo with a background that is already blurred, or create a blur effect by following the steps with adding backgrounds.

Open, copy and paste Blur Textures. Decrease Opacity (Opacity) of both layers to 20%, and then set the blending mode of the bottom to Hard light (Hard Light), and the top one on Screen (Screen).

Step 4

Create a new layer above all the layers and use the brush we created to create a bokeh effect: paint some light spots with white. Set Layer Blend Mode to Overlap (Overlay), then, after clicking a couple of times on the layer with the painted spots, go to Overlay options (Blending Options), then in layer style Internal glow (Inner Glow) and set the following values:

  • Blending mode: Lightening basics (Color Dodge),
  • Opacity (Opacity) 51%,
  • The size (Size) 2 px.

Step 5

Create a duplicate layer: Layer (Layer) – Duplicate layer (Duplicate Layer) (Ctrl + J) and move it below the layer with the original, then go to the menu Filter (Filter) – Blur (Blur) – Gaussian blur (Gaussian Blur) with a radius of 5 pixels.

Create a new layer above all layers: Layer (Layer)New (New) – Layer (Layer). Blend Mode – Linear Dodge (Color Dodge). Using soft browns, paint the area around the girl.

Decrease opacity (Opacity) up to 22%. Add a new adjustment layer. Exposure over all layers: Layer (Layer) –New Adjustment Layer (New adjustment layer) –Exposition (Exposure), set the value exposure (Exposure) at 1 and layer opacity up to 20%.

When you’re done, be sure to click the button. Stop (Stop) at the bottom of the panel Operations (Actions) to use this action for future photos.

Here is the final result.

Experiment with this action on another image for amazing results!

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