photoshop creative

Create soft focus in four steps

Posted in:
Tips & Tutorials, by Mark White
November 10, 2015

Make your photos glow and add a gentle soft focus in Elements


1. Duplicate


First, we’re going to duplicate the image layer. This duplicate is the one that we apply the focus to. Ctrl/right-click on the Background layer and choose Duplicate. By editing a duplicate layer, it’s easy to tone down an effect later on just by controlling the layer opacity.

2. Apply Gaussian Blur


Next, go to Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur and alter the Radius for how blurred you’d like your image to be. We used 20 pixels but depending on your image, you can pick anything from 12 to 30 pixels; you can even go as low as 5 pixels for a subtle glow.

3. Set blend and opacity


Turn the Opacity down on this layer; we’ve gone for 50. This will calm down the effect, and bring back some of the original image’s focus. Set the blend mode to Screen, and your image will become brighter and more exposed, with a classic soft-focus effect.

4. Add a mask


Inject focus and contrast by adding a mask to your blurred layer. Select a big, soft, black brush, preferably with a low opacity, and just paint over the layer until you reveal what you want. Adding focus to a face can help accentuate wispy hair in a subject.