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Bokeh is the name given to these out of focus discs of light and these tend to occur in the background of your image especially if you're working with a shallow depth of field. There are numerous ways that you could create bokeh digitally; I am going to share with you a technique that I adapted from various different others and what we are going to achieve is something like this. Bokeh with a crunch and I say with a crunch because if we look at these discs of light they actually have texture in them and that texture is derived from this Background here, this background texture of ice and if I turn on the different discs especially when you put them against a black background, just to see the large ones.
You can see that there is actually the texture of that ice within those rings. So we are going to create something like this, I will say something like it because we are going to get slightly different result, I will probably use different colors and it's going to be slightly different but just as good. Okay, so now we are ready to create a bokeh brush and I'm in the documents that I am going to be painting in and at the top of the layer stack I am going to create a new layer, I am going to come to my Elliptical Marquee tool and I am going to fix size of 400 X 400 pixels and then click, and then I am going to fill that with black, Option or Alt+ Delete if black is your foreground color.
Reduce the Fill Opacity to 30%. Now the reason we are adjusting the fill Opacity is because in the next step we are going to add a Stroke and that Stroke needs to be at 100% and I am going to make the stroke weight 6 pixels and Position it Inside so that it's going to be captured by the active selection. I will click OK, I need to make sure I turn these other layers off so that they are not captured as part of the brush preset and then Define Brush Preset and I am going to call it bokeh.
Right, so I am now delete that layer and we will just take a look at what we have going on here, so at the top we have this field of black ultimately, out blurry discs are going to be against this black background but we need to turn that off for the time being because what we are going to be doing is we are going to painting these using the Mixer brush and the Mixer brush is going to be picking up the color from the layers beneath as well as picking up the texture, and that's why the ice is here.
Now because it's picking up the texture and we wanted to pick up more of the texture, I have added Levels adjustment layer above that just to boost the contrast a bit. So what I am going to do next is add a Gradient Fill layer because we needed to pick up some color as well. So I am going to lay some color down over the whole thing. And the Gradient Fill that I am going to use is a medium spectrum. Now this is one of the Spectrum presets which you may need to load, if you don't already see it and you can choose to append that to your current gradients.
Now you can use anyone you want. I didn't used this in the finished examples so I am going to get a different result, so it really is a case of mixing and matching with this technique. I am going to set the angle of this gradient to 45?, and then I am going to set the Blend mode of the gradient to Overlay. So now on a new layer, I am going to start painting with my bokeh brush but I need to come and choose the Mixer brush first off all and set the options for the Mixer brush.
Now I am going to use this preset, Very Wet and most importantly though I am going to make sure this options is turned off. This is going to mean that we are just working with the colors that are already in the image, we are not actually introducing new color, so I am not going to be smearing new colors around we are just picking up the colors that are already there. So now on this layers I am about to paint on, I need to change the Blend mode, I need to change the Blend mode to Color Burn I think will work well and if I click, you can see what I am doing is, I am laying down these discs of color, that overlapping creating noise, overlapping transparency effects but they are color burning into the background, picking up the background, not just the background color but also the background texture.
Now if turn off the Gradient Fill and I turn on the Background field of black, everything becomes black but if I turn the Blend mode of my bokeh layer back to normal then we see we get this and this is what we are after. Now that we know what's going on, I am going to select All and delete those few that I laid down, so I am going to turn off the field of black, turn back on the Gradient, change the Blend mode back to Color Burn and I am also going to change a few settings about the way my brush behaves.
So I am going to come over to my Brushes panel and I want to change the Spacing settings. I am going to change the Spacing to 150%, I am going to come to the Shape Dynamics and I'm going to have a Size Jitter of 100%, Minimum Diameter 50 that's all good, and then I want some Scattering on Both Axes and let's just see how the preview is looking down there, give you an idea what's going on. I think I want a few more, let's go for a Count of 5 and then Count Jitter and of course nothing is happening because I don't have my Scatter turned on, I was wondering what was going on there.
So I need to then bring that up somewhere about there. So I have Scattering on Both Axes, I am scattering at 350%, I have the Count set of 5 and the Count Jitter set at 8%. More importantly than that I am looking at what's going on this preview down here and this is the kind of effect I am after. So I am now going to close my Brush panel and start painting with my brush. Now I don't want to overdo it, so just going to lay down a few and what we are not getting there is we are not getting any Size Jitter, so I am going to Undo that, come back to Brush panel, come back to my Shape Dynamics, so there is the problem right there, I am controlling this with Pen Pressure but I prefer that to be off even though I am using a Pen.
So I am going to close that now and now start painting and yes we are getting that Size Jitter that we weren't getting before. Okay, those are my large discs, let's just see how they look. I am going turn off my Gradient Fill, turn off my Background Pivot of color, change my Blend mode to Normal. Okay, so those are my big disc. Now I am going to create a new layer above that, so it's Blend mode to Color Burn. I am going to reduce the Size of my brush, let's come down 250 pixel brush, turn back on my Gradient Fill, turn off Background Field to black, also turn off the large discs that I have already laid down and just repeat the process, so that we get some smaller disc right there.
Okay, and then I am going to do another layer and this will be for smaller still and I am going to reduce the Size here down to 125. Set this Blend mode to Color Burn and I am going to add some of these in this as well. Okay, turn off the Gradient Fill, turn on the Background Field of color, change the Blends modes to Normal and there you can see this is the affect that we are going to get.
So not only has it picked up the color a bit also picked up a texture from the ice background layer. And our final step is we are going to blur these discs now, so I am going to turn off everything but the big ones, and then I am going to Convert for Smart Filters and come to Gaussian Blur and I am going to blur these by I estimate 8 pixels. Now I am working with a 1,200 pixel wide image and the amount of that you blur is going to vary according to the resolution of your image, and then I am going to come to the medium-size one's, turn those on, I will convert these to Smart Filters as well, Gaussian Blur and I am going to blur these half as much, and then I am going to turn on the small ones and you guessed it, Converts for Smart Filters and I am just doing this so I can go back and change the amount of blurring if I didn't' get it right first time.
Gaussian Blur again but this time we will go down to just 1 pixel and there is our result. To just refine this further, I of course can change the Blending modes of the different layers and I can always go in at more of these color circles as well if I want to. A big variant here was the actual gradient that I used. If we take a look at my original finished piece, it's a much more pastel hued results and that's because I began with a pastel gradient.
But I think you agree that's a very interesting technique lovely that picks up the texture from what's below and working with the Mixer brush. It's really a fantastic new tool and it's the Mixer brush that really allows us here to paint with that color as well as bring up the texture from whatever is below.
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