Photoshop Tutorial

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Soft Focus Photoshop

21.06.2007 Category: Photoshop
In this tutorial you will create a soft focus Photoshop effect like in Picture 2. Before starting you should be familiar with the following Photoshop tools:

What is a Soft Focus?

photo without soft focus

Picture 1. Original photo without soft focus.

In photography soft focus is a flaw of a lens which causes blurred photos. On the other hand, a soft focus lens creates the effect on purpose by blurring the photo but still retaining sharp edges of the picture. The soft focus brings a dreamy mood into the photograph. The soft focus is often used in fashion photography.

Duplicate Layer and Soft Light

Duplicate the original image (Background) in Photoshop and set the blending mode of the new layer to Soft Light:

At this stage the photo might look too dark or too saturated. Don't worry. The colors are corrected later.

Gaussian Blur

Soft Focus Photoshop

Picture 2. Soft focus effect creates a dreamy mood into the photo.

Next blur the original image (Background) by using Gaussian blur filter:

Now the soft focus effect is ready. Next fix the brightness and saturation of the photo. I recommend using the following adjustment layers:
Saturation: Hue/Saturation adjustment layer
Brightness: Levels adjustment layer
(Use of adjustment layers is not covered in this tutorial)

Adjustment of Soft Focus Effect

Often the soft focus effect is too strong. In such a case take the following steps:

Beware of over-using the soft focus effect or creating too strong an effect. I think soft focus is only suitable for certain situations and photos.