How to Create a Tilt-Shift Effect in Photoshop

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Learn how to draw more attention to your subject by adding a Tilt-Shift Effect to your photos!

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How to Select Focus Area

The first step in creating a tilt-shift effect is to cut the subject out of the background. This can be done in a number of ways, in this case, we use the “Select – Focus Area” filter to make a selection of the area of the photo that is in focus.

Learn More About Focus Area Selections

Be sure to adjust the settings to include most of the subject and use the PLUS and MINUS tools to add or subtract from the selection.

Don’t worry if the selection isn’t perfect, we are going to use the Select & Mask Filter to enhance the selection.

How to Refine a Selection using Select & Mask

To refine a selection, go to “Select- Select and Mask” and change your view to a setting that allows you to see the selection accurately. In this case, we use the “Quick Mask” view that makes the selected area red.

Paint around the subject with the “Refine Edge Tool” to refine areas like hair or anything that has small detail.

To add or subtract from your selection, use the brush tool within the Select and Mask Dialog. Hold ALT/OPTN to switch from ADD to SUBTRACT from selections.

Take your time and create the best selection you can, this will effect how realistic your Tilt-Shift Effect will be.

How to Save a Selection

Now that you have spent a while creating a perfect selection, it is time to save it. We both know you don’t want to do this over again.

To save a selection, go to “Select – Save Selection” and give it a name. To load the selection, go to “Select – Load Selection.”

How to Create the Tilt-Shift Blur

Once the selection is active, click on “Filter – Blur Gallery – Tilt Shift.” If the blur is on your subject instead of the background, exit the filter and go to “Select – Inverse”.

Within the Tilt Shift Filter, move the blur center to the feet of the subject and adjust the feathering lines to create a realistic blur.

This will blur only the background, leaving the subject in focus.

To add blur to the foreground as well, you can adjust the settings in the current Tilt-Shift Filter or apply the filter and create another Tilt-Shift effect with only the foreground selected.

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