How to Fake Depth of Field in Photoshop

Photography is done as much with the camera as it is done with post-processing tools. You can always tweak photos to make them look closer to what you had in mind when pressing the shutter button. Doing this in Photoshop is a simple process that should only take a couple of minutes, and Aaron Nace does a great job of explaining the steps to take when faking depth of field in Photoshop:

The key is to keep your photo looking realistic. Adding too much blur to the background will look unnatural.

photoshop depth of field

Before Adding Background Blur

How to Add Background Blur in Photoshop

1. Select your subject. Use whichever tool you’re comfortable with, but Nace suggests using the Pen tool for precise selections.

2. Duplicate your background layer.

3. Refine the edge of your selection so it matches the blur of your photo.

4. Once the subject is selected, invert the selection so that everything else is selected.

5. From the menu, select Filter > Blur Gallery > Tilt-Shift and apply it to the image. Using the Tilt Shift blur allows a more natural depth of field, by keeping the ground right next to the subject also in focus.

photoshop blur tool

6. Adjust the Tilt Shift blur points to feather your blur.

7. Bring the center of the Tilt-Shift blur tool down toward the bottom of the frame where your subject touches the ground.

8. Adjust the Blur, Distortion, and Bokeh to your liking.

The final image doesn’t look a lot different from the original when you don’t have them side by side, but the effect is highly improved:

faking depth of field

After Adding Background Blur

As you can see, the subject is now more prominent; the picture brings her out more. This method only takes a couple of minutes and it is accessible for beginners as well as experienced users.

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