Achieving the look of a tilt-shift lens using Photoshop

>> April 5, 2009

I first came to love the effects that can be created by a tilt-shift lens or a lensbaby reading this blog. Of course a tilt-shift lens is expensive (what great lens isn't?). So I decided to play around in photoshop to find a way to accomplish this look in post-production. I found that there is a whole community out there doing this, trying to make images that look like miniatures. And there were many tutorials on how to do it, but I didn't want my images to look like miniatures and I obviously didn't have the right version of Photoshop for most of the tutorials I did read. Because they required me to work in 2 different masking modes, which I couldn't find in my version. So I got ideas from the tutorials and started trying different things myself.
This is the tutorial that came from my playing around in Photoshop.
I finally wrote it out to enter a contest to win this. (The tutorial I entered wasn't as thorough because I was limited to 350 word and 3 pictures.)
I probably won't win, but I loved the challenge of actually putting my work into words, so I went for it.

So here is how to do it:

After you open your image…

(My original image)

Create a new layer that is a copy of the image.
To do this, either go to Layer – then Duplicate Layer. Or you can, in the layers palette, drag the original background image to the create a new layer button.

Screen Shot 2
Or you can use the key command Ctrl-J.

Then, on the background copy layer, click on the add layer mask button in the layers palette.

Screen Shot 1

Next, get the gradient tool. Click on radial gradient in your gradient options.
Make sure you are still in the background copy layer and that the mask box (see image above) is called out. Click on the center point of the area you want to keep in focus and drag out as far as you want the focal point to go. If your gradient selection went from white to black, your mask box will show a white circle. If your gradient went from black to white, your mask box will show a black circle. It is important to be aware of this for the next step.

Screen Shot 3
Now, click on the image box of the new layer. You will no longer be working in the mask box.

Screen Shot 5

Go to filter – blur – lens blur.
In the lens blur dialog box, make adjustments until you get the affect you want.
In the depth map section, make sure the Layer mask is called out in the source drop down box. And if you had a black circle in your mask box you need to make sure you click the box next to invert.


Click ok when you have the results you want.

If your image needs some fine tuning, select the paintbrush tool. Click on the mask box. Set the foreground color to black if you want to make a portion of your image in focus again, or white if you want to blur more and paint away.
Also, you can adjust the opacity of your brush to vary the amount of the effect to make it look more authentic.
When your done, flatten image (in the layers drop down list) and save.

This is what the final image looked like when I was done...


1 responses:

Eileen April 6, 2009 at 8:52 AM  

Very interesting! There's so much stuff you can do with digital, I feel like such a newbie!

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