Oct 08, 2014

How to Fake Depth of Field in Photoshop

Fake it ’til you Make it

Everyone wants a beautiful out of focus background once in a while, but what if you can’t achieve the look in-camera? In today’s episode, we show you how to fake depth of field in Photoshop!

1… 2… Done!

1. To start, select out the subject that needs to be separated from your soon-to-be blurry background. Use whatever selection tool you’d like, such as the lasso tool, magnetic lasso tool, or our personal favorite, the pen tool. Then go to Filter -> Refine Edge. Here, you can match the softness of the selection with the actual image.

2. Next is the blur! Go to Filter -> Blur Gallery -> Tilt Shift. In this dialogue, you can choose the perfect settings for your fake depth of field. Enjoy the blurry results!


user image You
(will not be published)

    • user image

      Hey Tony, the pattern you’re seeing is what’s referred too as Moire.

      Moiré pattern occurs when a scene or an object has a lot of repetitive details, (such as lines, dots, etc) that exceed the sensor resolution. As a result, the camera produces a strange-looking wavy pattern as seen in your image.

      In photography, moiré happens mostly because of the way light reaches the sensor and how the sensor handles the light through the bayer interpolation filter. (

      There are a few ways you can try to avoid Moire including 1) Anti-Alias filters in some editing software, 2) Changing your angle and/or distance from the subject, and 3) changing stepping down your aperture to f11-f16

  • user image

    Excellent tutorial thank you. I wouldn’t have thought of using tilt shift for this

    Did I use a graduated filter on a layer mask over a Gaussian blur before? Cannot remember!!

  • user image

    Great tutorial. I love the focus from 3:00-3:16…. I’m pretty sure you don’t even blink!

  • user image

    Every time I learn something about tools in photoshop or something that can really improve my skills, thats excelent guys thank you very much! my nights are getting so much better since Im enyoing a beer & PHLEARN (y)

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    Brian Moore

    When you did your selection the line was quite hard to see against the background. Is there any way of changing the colour of the dashed line so that you have a colour contrast against the background to help you see where the line actually is??
    Still enjoying your tutorials and learning even more techniques…keep it up

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    In your videos, you often make a quick selection of the subject before applying the Photoshop technique you are demonstrating. (In this case, you selected the model.) For your professional work, how much time do you spend refining the edge before you say “good enough”? Does it have to be perfect?

    Thank you for making these videos – I have learned a lot and I look forward to all of them.

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    I cannot access to this tutorial, even though I have registered with you. please comment.

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    Lynn Letteris

    Rather new to PS…love your videos. They are clear and understandable. Would like to learn about masking and compositing. Sure you have already covered these before and would like to be able to find them.

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    Gary Gilmour

    All your videos are great, but I love the girl and the flying saucer. Can we rent her and the saucer for a workshop in Milwaukee next weekend. ( All the White Castles she can eat!)

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    hi i am really enjoying the videos on youtube i’ve been using photoshop the last year just starting now to put in more effort into it what i want to know is do you have a easy away to get your videos like for example do you have a whatsapp group weird people share your videos and speak about photoshop please let me know if Yes that will be wonderful

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    Claudia Meyers

    Great tips Aaron. Thank you.
    I wanted to ask if you have any tips or lessons on how to help out photos of people who have acne or other facial scars. I have tried a couple of things such as cloning and softening the area but it’s very hard to get that right balance of getting someone’s picture to look good but still keep that person look like themselves. Thank you.

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    Ajay Shyam

    That was so much useful Aaron. Because I was using just Gaussian blur to blur my images which would be cranked sometimes. This was so realistic. Nice one. And can you please include some CS5 tutorials?

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    I used to make this effect creating a gradient where i wanted to start the effect, then selecting it and doing the Gaussian blur over the image with that selection

  • user image

    Hi! I’m using CS5 and I don’t have the blur gallery…how can I get it or can you suggest an other way for this effect?

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    Looks like the Refine Edge tool has been retired in the newest CC version. Do you have a tip on another way to do this?