How to create a soft focus effect in Photoshop
Tips & Tutorials, by Mark White
May 20, 2013
A free tutorial on creating a soft focus effect with just one extra layer
Soft focus refers to an effect where the image isn’t in focus, yet it’s not entirely out of focus either. In Photoshop we can control the way light falls onto an image to replicate this traditional photographic lens effect.
Add a slight blur to your image by going to Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur. Set the Radius slider to 2px, just to reduce sharpness.
Load your Channels palette from inside the Window menu, and Cmd/Ctrl-click on the RGB Channel’s thumbnail. This will load a selection over the bright parts of your image.
In your Layers palette, press Cmd/Ctrl+J to create a new layer containing the selected highlights. Change this layer’s blend mode to Screen.
Go back to your Gaussian Blur filter and finish off the effect by applying a blur of 9px. Hit OK and control the opacity of the layer if needed to reduce the effect.