Bokeh Background Effect – Photoshop Tutorial

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.

Bokeh Background Effect

Here is the comparison before and after images:

Bokeh Before and After


Resources:

Flower image from stock.xchng

Bokeh brushes from obsidiandawn.com


Step 1

Open the Flower image, or the image you will be using

Duplicate the background layer

Rename this layer ‘greenery

Step 2

You now have to separate the foreground from the background:

Select the Pen tool using the following settings:

Pen Tool 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

Step 3

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

Edit>Fill>Foreground Color

Color Fill

Ctrl + D to deselect

Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur – set to 25px, click OK

Blurred Background

Step 4

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

Bokeh Brush

Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur – set to 8px, click OK

Step 5

Double click on the bokeh layer in the layers palette to bring up the blending options and apply the following Inner Glow settings:

Inner Glow Settings

Reduce the layer opacity to around 45%, or whatever looks good to you

The finished project:

Bokeh Background Effect


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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carol

I am a purveyor of graphic design, photography and general inspiration on the internet. I spend lots of time browsing and try to bring the best of my finds so you don't have to search for inspiration.