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A fast and easy way to give an image a soft glow is to use the Gaussian Blur filter. So to make this a nondestructive filter I'll use the context sensitive menus, in the Layers panel I'll right mouse click if I'm on Windows or I can Control click if I'm on Mac and choose Convert to Smart Object. Then I'll select the Filter menu and choose Blur and then Gaussian blur. I'm going to decrease the radius here. I want to bring it down to somewhere around ten, and then click OK. But this is not the effect that I'm after.
I don't want it to just be blurred. I want it to give a nice, soft glow. So I need to change the blend mode. Now, I know we haven't talked very much about blend modes, and I don't actually want to change the blend mode of the layer, what I want to do instead is change the blend mode of the filter. So, to the right of the filter name there's a small icon that I can double-click and that will bring up my blending options. Now one of the blending options that I want to try is Overlay. You can see now I have a very different effect.
It's a little bit strong, but I could also choose Soft Light and see if that's a little bit more mild. In this case I actually want to make sure that you can see the effect. So I'm going to move it back to Overlay and then click OK. If we wanted to toggle on and off the filter, we can click on the eye icon next to where it says Gaussian Blur, so that's before and that's after. But you can see that the filter is applied evenly across the entire image. If I want to randomize how the filter's being applied, I can use the mask for the smart filter.
Now we've painted in masks in previous videos, and we've painted with our paintbrush. And we've drawn gradients in the mask. But one of the things that we haven't done is run a filter in the mask. So, on the Layers panel, I'm going to select the mask for the smart filter by clicking in its thumbnail here. Then, I'll choose Filter and then Render and then Clouds. When I select this filter, Photoshop will create this random cloud pattern.
But, it created it in the mask. If we want to see what that looks like, we can hold down the Option key on the Mac, or the Alt key on Windows, and click in the smart filter mask. This is the cloud pattern that it created. So we know that anywhere that the mask is white, we'll be able to see the Gaussian Blur filter, and anywhere that the mask is black Photoshop is going to hide the Gaussian Blur filter. So, now we can click on the eye icon to toggle on the visibility. If we just want to see a before and after without the filter, I can hold down the Shift key, and click in the mask for the smart filter that will temporarily disable it.
I can hold down the Shift key again and click in order to enable it. So that's toggling on and off the filter. If I want to toggle on and off the blur, I click the eye icon next to the word Gaussian Blur. So there's before and after. So you obviously don't have to run a filter and a mask, but I do think in an image like this, it's a really nice way to make a filter look a little bit more organic when it's applied to an image.
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