Do you want to know how it's done? Learn how to use Photoshop the easy way!
Sometimes after taking a photo, you may look at it and wish that you would have changed your F-Stop on your camera so you could have that nice in focus isolation of your subject, but everything else is a bit blurry. This type of effect can really make your subject stand out and can turn an ordinary photo into something quite nice. Alas, there is a way to manipulate this in Photoshop.
Here is the photo I’m starting with.
My goal here is to get the dogs face to be clear while the rest is out of focus. Once you have your picture opened up in Photoshop, duplicate the layer by right clicking on the background layer in the Layers Palette and selecting “Duplicate Layer”
Next you will want to make your selection that you want to be clear using whichever selection tool you prefer. I’m going to use the pen tool.
Now hit the Letter “Q” to enter the Quick Mask mode. You should now have something that looks like this.
In order to create a softer edge so the selected area blends better with the rest of the picture, we need to apply some blur. Go to Filter/Blur/Gaussian Blur. You will need to play with the slider a bit depending on your image resolution. Then click “OK” Here is the settings I used.
Hit the “Q” again to exit the Quick Mask Mode. Now we need to save the selection. Do this by choosing Select/Save Selection. Name your selection something meaningful and click “OK”. I called mine “Face Selection”
Hit Ctrl+D to deselect. Now if you click on the tab that says “Channels” right next to the “Layers” tab, you will see the selection you just created saved as an alpha channel in the Channels Palette. This is a great way to save and reload selections in your projects.
Make sure to click back to the Layers Palette to continue. Also make sure that your top layer is selected. Now we’re going to use the Lens Blur to create the depth of field effect. Select Filter/Blur/Lens Blur. Make sure to select your saved selection and check the invert box. Play around in here to find your desired effect.Here is the settings I used.
And here is what I ended up with.
So this looks pretty good to me. But lets’ say you used to much Gaussian Blur when we initially softened our selection. This could result in blurriness around the edges of the areas that you wanted to be clear. Photoshop has a way to help with that problem.What you will want to do is add a Layer Mask. Do this by clicking the “Add Layer Mask” button below the Layers Palette. Make sure your top layer is selected before you do this.
So now your top layer thumbnail in the Layers Palette should look like this.
As soon as you add the layer mask, your foreground color tile should turn black and your background color tile should turn white. If not, make sure you set them this way. Also while your there, select the Brush Tool.
Now all you have to do is paint away the areas that you don’t want to be blurry. Essentially you are “erasing” to expose the layer beneath. The reason I put erasing in parenthesis is because you are not actually erasing. You are masking. What this means is that if you make a mistake, you just change your foreground color tile and repaint it back. Kind of cool! Use your left and right bracket keys on your keyboard to adjust the size of your brush for different levels of detail. You may want to play with the hardness of the brush as well. You can easily adjust this by holding shift while using your left or right bracket keys.
And here is a before and after.