Apr 25, 2014

Drawing Attention to Your Subject Using Radial Focus Blur

Drawing Attention to your Subject

There are many techniques you can use in Photoshop to draw more attention to your subject. In this episode we cover a special technique we created to help blur the edges of a photo while keeping your subject in focus. Prepare to learn about drawing attention to your subject using radial focus blur!

Step and Repeat

In order to create this special effect you will have to learn how to Step-and-Repeat in Photoshop. The first step is to make a duplicate of your layer and hit OPTN+CMD+T and make your transformation. After the transformation is complete hit ENTER to apply the transformation. You have just completed the STEP part of the Step-and-Repeat.

To apply the REPEAT just hit SHIFT+OPTN+CMD+T. Each time you enter this command Photoshop will apply the same transformation and create a new layer.

Radial Focus Blur

In this episode we use the Step-and-Repeat to draw attention to the subject’s face. We enter the STEP process by hitting OPTN+CMD+T and move the reference point over the subject’s face. Then we make the image larger and rotate it clockwise. Depending on the degree of transformation in this step your image will either be more or less blurred.

We then use the REPEAT command by hitting SHIFT+OPTN+CMD+T anywhere from 5-10 times. After you have created your new layers with the REPEAT command, select those layers, hit V, then use the numbers on the top of your keyboard to change their opacity. Different opacities will give you different looks.


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    Ryan Cooper

    I’ve been using the radial blur filter to do a similar effect for ages but I like the way this one shifts the perspective too to give it more of a “3D” feel, very cool.

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    Francisco Rullan

    Very good tool… Hidden gem of photoshop… Like Droste Effect

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    Thanks Aaron,

    this was the right time to explain step and repeat once more. I just had to create a display with scrolling text and with S&R it looks much better now.

  • user image

    Hey Aaron.
    Thanks for this new cool technique, useful I formations, as usual.
    Is this picture a winner of the portrait contest? I can’t find the video/topic about the winners. Did I miss something?


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    Interesting idea. I’ve been using a similar technique (without the repeating) where the bottom layer is sharp and the top layer is blurred. Within that top layer I then mask out a soft window which exposes the sharp bottom layer.

    — QUESTION ——————
    I have a project where I am trying to create a white statue from a color portrait. I’ve blended most of the details smooth and used the “Black and White” feature in Photoshop to desaturate the image into gray scale and then lighted the darks to medium grays (layer adjustment). The subject was then masked out and placed back into the original color image. While adequate, it doesn’t look fully believable. Any ideas how I might better approach the project and would this make a great tutorial for a future episode???

    Thanks in advance.

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    Would love to see you bring back ‘before’ and ‘after’ images you posted with every tutorial… seeing it in the tutorial is cool but having the files on your site as you used to that would be even better.

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    Hey brother, I was just wondering if you have any videos on adding different styles of hair or adding facial hair to a person with a realistic effect.

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    Jesse Gross

    Hey Aaron/Phlearn crew,

    I’d love to see an episode on removing/reducing skin goosebumps. Something a bit more advanced than a simple blur or completely repainting and noise laid on over top for texture.

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    D. A. Penn

    I did it with a simple black and white deer photo I took while on Miyajima in Japan last year.

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      D. A. Penn

      4 extra layers, increase size to 101%, a 0.04 degree rotation, and put the transparency at 25%

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    Johan Adermalm

    Hi Aaron and the Phlearn bunch! What a great tutorial!
    Its the geniality in the simplicity that makes it so good.
    How would you use smart objects in your images? What are they really and what are they good for?

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    Julian Gehring

    Hey Aaron,
    this is such a great way to draw attention at a specific point.
    i had to try it! I also addes som radial blur afterwards and by using the tranformation toll i added a small fisheye effect, to even draw more attention to the face.

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        Javier Artiles

        Not cool to take somebody else’s photograph, manipulate it and post it without a single word to ask permission. I’d appreciate if you delete your post. I’m not posting here any more.

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    How would you do the same “repeat command” but using “Warp” instead of scale ?