Soft Focus

Soft Focus combines a sharp version of an image with a blurred version resulting in a softer pleasant image.

Soft focus is commonly used with portraits and floral images. This steps used for this technique can be used for any of a number of filters which affect the image globally (here the Gaussian Blur filter), but for which you wish to maintain some pieces of the original image.

Create a new Merged Image layer on which to perform the blur (page 24). If you only have a background layer, duplicate it by selecting Layer>Duplicate Layer Name this the "Blur Layer

Change the opacity of the Blur layer to 50%; this allows the Blur layer to blend with the image beneath it. The image will not appear to change, as the Blur layer has not yet been blurred.

Select Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur. Adjust the Radius value to obtain the overall amount of blur that you wish for this image. Evaluate the adjustment based on the Image window since it shows the blur layer blending with the sharp image below it. Click on OK to accept the filter.

Now we have the correct Soft Focus image, but you can also restore parts of the image to their original sharp focus. Create a mask for the blur layer; select Layer>Layer Mask>Reveal All.

Select the paintbrush tool, make sure you have a soft brush, and set the foreground color to black. Also, set the paint brush opacity to about 50% (see page 26 on brushes). Now you can paint black onto the new mask.

5 Paint over the areas of the image that you wish to return to the original sharpness.

For portraits, try painting over the eyes, mouth, and the hair right around the face.

6 You can also experiment with the blending modes for the blur layer; try changing the layer blending mode to "lighten"; or "darken".

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