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A fast and easy way to give an image a soft glow is to use the Gaussian Blur filter. Now because I don't want this to be a destructive change, I'm going to right-mouse click on the Background layer and Convert to Smart Object, then under the Filter menu I'll choose Blur and then Gaussian Blur. I want to make sure that the Radius is high; I want to give this a large blur, so let's try amount of 15 and click OK. Obviously that's not doing what I want it to do. What I need is I need to tell the Gaussian Blur Filter to interact with the flower in a different way.
And I know we haven't talked very much about blend modes, but I'm going to use a Blend mode to do this. So in the Layers panel I will double-click on the Blending Options icon and that brings up Blending Options where I can then choose a Blend mode for the filter to interact with the flower. Now to get a nice soft glow one of the options I can select is Screen, but I think that that is glowing a bit too much, so we can use the Opacity slider to just back off a little bit on that effect.
There are some other Blend modes that you might want to try. If you wanted to build contrast in your image, I would move down to either the Overlay Blend mode or you can come down to Soft Light. Soft Light is always going to be a little bit softer, but the reason that I'm not fond of these right now is because they are adding so much saturation to my image. So I'm going to scoot back up to the Screen Blend mode and I'll bring the Opacity up just a little bit more and then click OK. And don't forget, because this is a Smart Object, we're working with Smart Filters.
If I double-click where it says Gaussian Blur I could also go in and change the Radius, making it smaller or making it larger and every time I do this we can see that the effect is dramatically different in my image. All right! One last super tip here while we're working with this image, right now the filter is being applied to the entire image. We saw in the previous lesson that we could use the Smart Filter mask and a gradient to selectively hide and show the effect.
But you can also randomize the effect a little bit by adding kind of a random texture into the Smart Filter Mask. I'll do that by selecting filter and then render, and I'll use the Clouds filter. Now we can see that we've got some texture in our mask. In fact, if I hold down the Option or Alt key that's the Cloud filter, that's what Photoshop randomly made for me. If I turn the Eye icon on next to the filter we can see the effect.
But let's hold down the Shift key and click inside the mask to temporarily turn it off. So that's without the Cloud filter and that's with the Cloud filter. You can see that with the Cloud filter we're just adding a little bit of maybe darkening and lightening where we're suppressing the filter. Remember, because wherever the filter is white we're going to see that Gaussian Blur 100%, wherever the filter is darker and goes to black it's going to hide the Gaussian Blur filter. So this is a really nice way to make a filter look not quite as even over an entire image when you're trying to create an effect like this.
So this is a really great way to kind of break up a filter that you've added to an image so that it doesn't look like it's been filtered, instead with the randomness that we just added, it looks a lot softer, more organic and natural.
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