Tuesday, March 1, 2011

A Quick Photo Editing Tutorial: Creating a Dreamy Effect on Photoshop | You The Designer

A Quick Photo Editing Tutorial: Creating a Dreamy Effect on Photoshop | You The Designer

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A Quick Photo Editing Tutorial: Creating a Dreamy Effect on Photoshop

Posted: 28 Feb 2011 08:30 AM PST

Welcome to another tutorial from youthedesigner.com. In this photo editing tutorial, we will be turning a regular photograph into something dreamy. The effect is also called artistic blur. In traditional photography, this is made possible by adding special filters to the lenses of the camera, thus simulating a blurry effect.

In photoshop (or any other similar image editing applications), we can achieve this effect in just a few steps. So sit back and relax as we tour you through the process. And at the end of this tutorial, we hope to see what you have done with your photos by posting a link to the image in the comments section below; we'd love to see what you have made!

Our final image will be similar to the image below:



  • Adobe Photoshop
  • Photograph


The very first step that we have to do is to load up our image on Photoshop. There are two ways of doing this: 1) you can browse the image with your file manager then right click and open with Photoshop or 2) you can start Photoshop and load it from there by going to File > Open and then browsing for the image. Either way, it's your preference, whichever you feel most comfortable with.


Opening Image in the File Manager



Opening Image in Photoshop



After successfully loading the image in Photoshop, it's a good practice to rename the layer/s that corresponds with it. This is also true to any project of arbitrary scale, since renaming your layers makes you keep track of your changes easily and can easily point out which does which on some extent.

Rename the layer present in our Layers Dialog labeled Background by double clicking on the layer name. A dialog window will appear enabling you to input the name of the layer. Let's call it "base layer".



And finally, we're on the gist of the tutorial. With base layer still active, duplicate it by right clicking on the layer entry then choosing Duplicate Layer.


A dialog window will appear again asking you for the layer details. Type a new name for the layer – "small blur".


With layer small blur active, go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur.


On the dialog window that appears, type in a value (in pixels) which would correspond to a small blurring effect on our image. We had ours set to 15 pixels.


Next step is to select again the base layer, then repeat the step that we did to layer small blur, except this time, we'll name it large blur, with a blur value of something between 50 pixels to 100 pixels. Move layer large blur above small blur.


And now comes the fun part: adding layer effects. Select "small blur" layer and switch the layer blending mode to Overlay. Next, select "large blur" layer and switch the layer blending mode to Screen. Immediately, you'll notice the effect appear on our image, making it "artistically blurry", which is the effect that we want.



To further enhance the look of our image, we will emphasize the eyes of the model by doing some quick techniques with sharpening and masking.

Select again "base layer", duplicate it and label the duplicate layer as "sharpen layer".


With the "sharpen layer" active, go to Filter > Sharpen > Unsharp Mask. And on the dialog window that appears, drag the preview such that the most important part of your image that you want to add sharpening on is focused on the preview. Tweak the settings as you wish. You could also refer to the settings we have used below.




After applying the Unsharp Mask filter, you'll notice a considerable sharpening applied to our image. However, we don't want to sharpen the whole image, instead we only want the eye parts to be sharpened, creating an even more dramatic effect.

To non-destructively do this, we will be using layer masks to mask out parts of the image other than the eye.

We'll begin by selecting "sharpen layer" and clicking the "add layer mask" button at the bottom of the Layers Dialog.


You will notice a black square added beside the original "sharpen layer" and is currently active. This is our layer mask. Currently, what it does is it makes the whole layer visible, as indicated by the plain white color. We do not want this, we only want the eye parts of the layer to be white. To address this issue, we have to fill our layer mask entirely with black then paint the whites later.

Change your foreground color to black then press shift + F5 to invoke the Fill command. On the dialog window that appears, choose Foreground Color as the usage option. This will use black to fill the entire layer mask.


You'll notice the effects of the sharpening gone already since we have entirely filled the layer mask with black which literally means erasing all which is present on that layer. To bring back the sharpness only on selected areas, we'll manually paint on the areas which are of interest to us, in this case, the eyes. Be sure that up to this point, the layer mask is still active and not any other layer/s.

Enable your Brush Tool (B), make your foreground color white, and then choose an appropriate brush from the brush options above. After you've done that, paint over on the eyes  and you'll notice the sharpness coming to life.



Here is our final image:


and here is an image comparison:



And that's about it! We hope you enjoyed this quick tutorial and we're hoping to hear what you have done so far! If you have any comments and suggestions, please drop us a note below. See you next time!

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