Depth of Field Tutorial 2- Faking It!

Hi! Ok, so I wrote a DOF (depth of field) tutorial a while back, and one thing I have heard is that some people just don’t have graphics cards that can handle DOF. If this is the case for you, fear not! You can add depth to your photos by using Photoshop. It’s actually really easy and there are tons of ways to accomplish this effect. I am going to show you one of these ways. Stay tuned for other techniques in future posts, and feel free to share your own!

First, let me tell you that I am using Adobe Photoshop CS3. Second, let me tell you that I am NOT an expert. This is just one method I use. There are tons of methods, and lots are probably better than mine. I only hope to be helpful to my fellow SLers.

Ready? Let’s go! (All photos can be clicked to view larger.)

I will start with a photo that I have already begun editing. I have gotten rid of the lines, used liquify and smudge tool, and applied levels and color effects to get the look I want. To make it easier, I have flattened my image so that we are beginning with one background layer.

First, you’ll want to duplicate this layer. Right click on “Background” and a menu will pop up. Select “Duplicate Layer” from the menu. 

(Feel free to name this layer anything you want. I am feeling lazy, so Background Copy works for me. We will only be using two layers for this method, so it’ll be pretty easy to keep track of the layers without using descriptive names.)

Now you have two layers.

Making sure your “Background Copy” layer is highlighted, go to the top of your screen to the menu bars and find “Filters.” When the menu drops down, select “Blur,” then “Lens Blur.”

This will bring up a new window.

Use the “Radius” slider to achieve the amount of blur you would like for your photo. I put mine at 20. Then, press “OK.”

Now, you will have a blurry photo on your screen. Don’t worry. Again making sure you have the “Background Copy” layer selected, click the icon at the bottom of the Layers panel that looks like a rectangle with a circle inside.

A blank rectangle will show up in the the “Background Copy” layer. Click the white rectangle.

Then, go to your tools menu and select the Brush Tool.

I use the Basic Brushes, and I set the opacity at 50% to start. You can use whatever opacity allows you to get your desired effect.

I also keep my brush soft, because I don’t want any hard lines.

From your color picker, choose black as your foreground and white as your background. We’re ALMOST ready to get this show on the road.

NOW, just paint the black onto the areas of your photo that you’d like to have sharp.

What you’re basically doing is hiding, or “masking” parts of the blurry (Background Copy) layer, so that the sharp Background layer shows through. It’s SORT of like erasing, but the awesome part is that if you make a mistake, you just switch to painting with white and you can paint over the black to modify your mask.

If you click the little eye next to “Background” in the Layers panel and hide the Background layer, this is what you’d see:

Notice how some parts are more visible than others. I changed the opacity of my brush at times to mask the blurry layer a little more or less.

Here is my finished product (click to view larger):

I hope you have fun trying this technique! Any questions, comments, or suggestions are welcome!

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