Bokeh… the Japanese word meaning ‘blur‘ or ‘haze‘. This effect can be achieved very effectively through photography, but as with all things, it can be ‘faked’ with Photoshop. There are many bokeh backgrounds, textures, patterns and brushes available for Photoshop, and of course, many tutorials.
Here I will be showing you how to create a background bokeh effect to bring the foreground into sharper focus. This is a very easy tutorial and suitable for Photoshop beginners.
Here is the comparison before and after images:
Flower image from stock.xchng
Bokeh brushes from obsidiandawn.com
Open the Flower image, or the image you will be using
Duplicate the background layer
Rename this layer ‘greenery’
You now have to separate the foreground from the background:
Select the Pen tool using the following settings:
Create a path around the flower
Right click within the path and select Make Selection
Set feather to 0 and click OK
Edit>Copy (Ctrl + C)
Edit>Paste (Ctrl + V)
Now use the Pen tool to ‘clean up’ the flower – remove any remaining parts of background between the petals.
Rename this layer ‘flower’
Ctrl + Click on the thumbnail of the flower layer in the layers palette to select the pixels
Select>Modify>Expand – set to 1px, click OK
Make the greenery layer active
Select a green from around the edges of the flower for the foreground colour – I used #2F5316
Ctrl + D to deselect
Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur – set to 25px, click OK
Create a new layer above the greenery layer
Rename this layer ‘bokeh’
Select the Brush tool and SS-Bokeh brushes
Set the foreground colour to one of the lightest greens from your background. I used #629046
Select a round, scatter Bokeh brush and reduce the size as necessary
Click on the canvas and change the brush and/or size until you are happy with the amount of bokeh circles you have
Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur – set to 8px, click OK
Double click on the bokeh layer in the layers palette to bring up the blending options and apply the following Inner Glow settings:
Reduce the layer opacity to around 45%, or whatever looks good to you
The finished project:
I hope you enjoyed this quick and simple tutorial. You can play around with other brushes and bokeh backgrounds and textures to achieve realistic effects or conceptual effects – the only limit with bokeh is the imagination!
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