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Tilt-Shift Photography in Photoshop Tutorial

Hi friends! Sorry for the lack of post yesterday. I have still been feeling 'blah' lately and I really just needed a day to rest. I hate feeling less than 100%, especially when I don't even have the energy to blog. To make matters worse, I have family here too and I hate feeling run down while guests are here. Just as family leaves I'll probably start feeling better...what a pain.

For today I have a fun tutorial for all you Photoshop lovers out there. I was inspired by Instagram actually (do you Instagram?) and their tilt-shift feature. What is tilt-shift photography? It is a selective focus photography where pictures have a shallow depth-of-field...meaning there is a small part of the image in focus and the rest is out of focus or blurry. Tilt-shift can produce some very dreamy images and I like how Instagram has added that feature into their app. It is fun to play around with. There are tilt-shift lenses you can buy but I looked around online to find a way to fake it in Photoshop. I followed this guide on Tilt Shift Photography but I've included my own steps here.

I found a few favorite pictures that I took in Capri, Italy. They were perfect for experimenting and now I'm going to show you how to tilt-shift your own images in Photoshop. The above image is the 'before.'

First, open up your image in Photoshop. I have version CS2 so depending on your version, your screen might look different. These steps are pretty simple though so regardless of version, you should be able to follow along.  

Next you want to enter into Quick Mask mode. Just hit 'Q' on the keyboard. Or click on the icon I've pointed out in the image above which is the Quick Mask icon. 

Then select the Gradient icon (or press 'G' on the keyboard). At the top you have a few options for different gradients, choose Reflected Gradient. Then in Gradient mode you will want to draw a straight line on part of your image. I drew a vertical line in the center of the image which I represented with the black line above. The location of your line will be the in-focus area of your image. Once you draw the line, this red mask will appear which also represents the in-focus area.

Then you will want to exit out of Quick Mask mode. Just hit 'Q' again to exit. You will then have parts of your image that are selected. The areas with the little lines around them (selected areas) will be the out-of focus parts of your image. Above I depicted the in-focus area in white and the out-of focus area in blue.

Next go up to the top menus to Filter, then Blur, and then Lens Blur. You will enter into this dialogue box that you see above. The default settings are pretty good so I usually just adjust the 'Radius' button. Adjust buttons yourself and see what you like. When done, just click 'ok' at the top to apply the blur. Then just deselect your selected areas and your image is complete.

And you should get something like this! A really nice tilt-shift blur don't you think? You can go back and adjust the gradient to vary the placement of the in-focus area and tweak different settings until you get the right blur for you. But with just a few steps, you can transform your normal pictures into tilt-shift photographs quick and easily.

Instagram also has the option to do a radial (circle) tilt-shift and you can create that same effect in Photoshop too.  When you're in the Quick Mask Mode, make a circle with the Elliptical Marquee Tool and then apply the gradient just within that circle. Follow the steps the same as above and you will get something like this:

The before.

And the after.

This is a pretty quick and nifty Photoshop feature, one which I'll be experimenting with on all different kinds of images. Have you made tilt-shift pictures in Photoshop before? Do you like the look of tilt-shift? Let me know if you start experimenting. I'd love to see your results. 

Have a great Thursday everyone.

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Reader Comments (3)

this is great lauren! thanks for sharing.

February 23, 2012 | Unregistered Commenteramy

awesome tutorial lauren! hope you have a good weekend.

March 2, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterbrittni

I just stumbled onto your blog through pinterest. Great tutorial and so many other cute looking projects :)

March 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterHannah

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