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Creating a selective focus effect

From: Photoshop Creative Effects Workshop

Video: Creating a selective focus effect

In this lesson, we'll create a selective focus effect, perhaps better thought of as a selective blur effect, as a creative variation on an image. I'm going to use a filter for this effect, so my first step is to convert my background image layer into a smart object so that I can utilize smart filters. Which increase my flexibility I'll choose Filter > Convert For Smart Filters from the menu, and click OK to confirm that decision, and you can see that my background image layer is now a smart object. Now I'm ready to apply my filter effect. I'm going to choose Filter > Blur and then Radial Blur in this particular case. I'm going to create a zoom effect that is relatively strong. Now, one of the limitations of the radial blur filter, is that we're not able to see a preview of the effect.

Creating a selective focus effect

In this lesson, we'll create a selective focus effect, perhaps better thought of as a selective blur effect, as a creative variation on an image. I'm going to use a filter for this effect, so my first step is to convert my background image layer into a smart object so that I can utilize smart filters. Which increase my flexibility I'll choose Filter > Convert For Smart Filters from the menu, and click OK to confirm that decision, and you can see that my background image layer is now a smart object. Now I'm ready to apply my filter effect. I'm going to choose Filter > Blur and then Radial Blur in this particular case. I'm going to create a zoom effect that is relatively strong. Now, one of the limitations of the radial blur filter, is that we're not able to see a preview of the effect.

All the more reason to use a smart filter for this purpose. So that we can always go back and refine the settings as needed. I'm going to increase the amount here just a little bit and click OK, and you can see that I have this motion blur sort of effect, a zooming blur in the image. I also want to apply a slight spin effect, a little rotation to this blur, so I'm going to go back to the Filter menu, choose Blur, and then Radial Blur one more time. But this time I'm going to choose the Spin method. And I'll set the amount to a very low value.

In fact, all the way down to a value of one. A very minor spin effect and I'll click OK. Notice now that I've added two instances of the radial blur effect. One of them is creating the zoom blur and the other is creating the spin blur, a relatively strong zoom and a relatively weak spin but this gives me the effect you see here. Of course, I don't want the entire image to be affected in this way, and so I'm going to use a gradient in order to adjust my layer mask for my smart filters.

I'll choose the Gradient tool from the tool box and make sure I'm working with a black to white gradient. We can actually just choose the first gradient which is our foreground color to background color gradient, and then press the letter D to make sure that the colors are set to their default values. I'll use the second option here to create a circular gradient, and then I'll make sure that I'm working on my layer mask for my smart filters. I'll click on the thumbnail for that layer mask just to make sure it's active, and then I can click and drag within the image in order to draw that gradient.

I'm going to hold the Alt key on Windows or Option key on Macintosh and then click on the layer mask, so you can see the actual appearance of that layer mask. Notice that I'm transitioning from black in the center, outward to white, with a very smooth transition. What that will do is block the filter effect in the center area, where it's black and gradually taper it off to the white area. Anywhere that is white will actually see the filter effect. So most of the image is getting the filter effect. I'm only blocking it at the very front of the train in a small area. I'll go ahead and hold the Alt or Option key and click once again on the layer mask to get back to the full image and you can see that the effect has been applied to the overall image.

But I have a small area that retains its sharp focus. I can also reduce the overall intensity of my filter effects. I can double-click on the adjustment button at the far right of each, and reduce the opacity for this particular blur. So I'll set each of these, let's say, to 50%. So I'll adjust both of these to a 50% opacity in order to reduce the overall strength, and you can see I now have a much more subtle effect within the image. This effect seems to provide a creative interpretation of how we actually see a subject.

With the area we're focused on appearing sharp. But our peripheral vision getting blurred toward the edges. And of course, the same basic concept could be used to apply any number of effects around the periphery of an image.

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Photoshop Creative Effects Workshop

31 video lessons · 746 viewers

Tim Grey
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