Soft focus effect

Soft focus.

From this lesson you will learn how to create soft focus using a filter. Blur at shallow depth of field (Lens Blur). This filter was available in Photoshop CS.

When they want to apply a blur effect to a photo, they most often use Gaussian blur (Gaussian Blur). But Gaussian blur does not give us much opportunity to control the “blurring” of the image, except as a blur radius. In addition, to achieve a more realistic effect, Gaussian Blur makes sense to apply to the mask layer.

Blur at shallow depth of field gives us an incredible amount of options for creating a blurred image effect. When using this filter, you can determine exactly which parts of the image will be “in focus”.

For the lesson we will use the photo:

Here’s what we get:

The focus will be on a woman’s face, especially her eyes. This case is quite subtle, but as soon as you understand the filter action Blur at shallow depth of field, you can create all imaginable and inconceivable effects on your photos.
So let’s get started!

Step 1. First of all, as always after opening the file, duplicate the layer.

Push Ctrl +J to create a copy of the layer. A new layer is called “Layer 1“.

Step 2. In order to accurately determine which areas will be lubricated and which will remain clear when using the filter, will create the so-called “Depth map”.
Let’s go to channel palette (Channels).

In the channel palette you will see 4 miniatures channels (as in the layers palette). In fact, there are only 3 channels (red, green, blue), and RGB is a mixture of these channels that make up the image.

We need to add a new channel. Click on the icon to create a new channel.

Photoshop will call it Alpha channel.

As soon as you create a new channel, your image will turn black. Do not be scared! Black is the alpha channel, not your photo..
The alpha channel is a selection tool, such as Rectangular Area or Lasso.

Step 3. Choose Brush from the tool palette:

Choose a suitable brush size, softness. Set opacity to 50%.

When creating a depth map, any areas that remain black in the alpha channel will be completely blurred when using the filter.

White – on the contrary, will remain clear.

And all shades of gray, depending on the intensity of the color, will have a different degree of blur.

Choosing a soft brush with a small percentage of opacity will allow us to get a soft transition effect, from a clear image to defocus.

Step 4. Being only in the alpha channel, we do not see our image. This creates some inconvenience in identifying areas where we want to focus.
Make all channels visible. To do this, turn on the eye at the RGB “channel”.

Now our image has become visible.

Red is the visible alpha channel. The areas completely covered with red (now the whole image) are filled with black in the letter channel. When we start to draw the old, the red areas will start to “fade”.

Step 5. Make sure the foreground color is white. Focus on the female face.

Reducing the size of the brush, select the areas that we want to make more clear (eyes, nose, lips).

Now we have our Depth of field map on the alpha channel.

Step 6. In the channel palette, turn off our alpha channel and make only three main ones visible (we turn on the eye in RGB).

Once you are done with the channels, go to the layers palette. Make sure you have selected Layer 1, on which we will continue to work.

Step 7. Now, using the alpha channel, apply the filter Blur at shallow depth of field / Lenses Blur.

Go in Filter – Blur – Blur at shallow depth of field. (Filter – Blur – Lens Blur) In the editing window that appears, select Alpha 1 in the display of the source of the Depth Map.

By default, Photoshop blurs black areas on the alpha channel, so tick the box next to “Invert»(Invert).

You can experiment with different tinctures. Only the blur radius is changed here:

So, what did we do?
Here is the original image:

But the final result:

Just like that, you can create a soft focus effect on a regular photo taken with an inexpensive camera.

Good luck in mastering Photoshop!

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