This tutorial has been produced using Photoshop CS2 on a PC.

Step 1: Photo Selection

When choosing a photograph for the tilt-shift effect, bear in mind that you want to give the impression of a miniature model. Miniature models are usually viewed from above so try and choose a photo with an elevated viewpoint. Buildings, roads, traffic and railways are excellent choices but make sure there is a reasonable wide angle of view.

For this tilt-shift photography Photoshop tutorial, we are using a picture of Times Square during a typical day:

Step 1: Photo Selection

Even before the tilt-shift effect has been applied, it’s not too hard to imagine the scene as if it were a model.

 

Step 2. Enter Quick Mask Mode

Open the image in Photoshop and enter Quick Mask Mode by pressing Q on the keyboard, or select the Quick Mask icon as shown in the Tool Palette below:

Step 2. Enter Quick Mask Mode

Step 3. Choose Gradient Tool

Choose the Gradient Tool by pressing G on the keyboard, or select the Gradient Tool icon. Be sure to choose the Reflected Gradient option (the fourth icon along before the Mode drop-down).

Step 3. Choose Gradient Tool

Step 4. Draw A Line

Draw a vertical line; the start point will be the centre of the in-focus area, and the end will be where the transition from in-focus to out-of-focus is completed. This step, and the subsequent two steps, will need a fair degree of trial and error. If you look closely at the image below, you will see the line has been drawn from the back door of the silver car up to just under the word Hollywood beneath the street lamp.

Step 4. Draw A Line

Once you release the mouse button the area of focus will appear as a red band across the image, as shown in the next step.

Step 5. View Mask Area

Before progressing, review the position of the red mask. The middle of the mask is where the in-focus area will be, gradually losing focus towards the edges. Note the out-of-focus effect is yet to be applied.

Step 5. View Mask Area

Step 6. Return To Standard Mode

Press Q on the keyboard to exit Quick Mask Mode and return to Standard Mode, or press the icon on the Tool Palette as shown below. The area to apply the focus effect to will be surrounded by the “marching ants” selection lines:

Step 6. Return To Standard Mode

Step 7. Open Lens Blur Interface

Choose Filter > Blur > Lens Blur:

Step 7. Open Lens Blur Interface

Step 8. Review Effect And Tweak Settings

Hopefully, you will now see a pleasing focus effect. The Photoshop default settings for Lens Blur seem to work well, but experiment with them to improve the effect. If you are unhappy with the position of the focus area, go back to Step 4 and try drawing a line in a different place or with a different centre of focus.

Step 8. Review Effect And Tweak Settings

Step 9. Exit Lens Blur Interface

Assuming you were happy with the image preview in Step 8, click OK to accept the settings:

Step 9. Exit Lens Blur Interface

Step 10. Remove Selection Boundary

Press CTRL-D on the keyboard to remove the “marching ants” selection bounday:

Step 10. Remove Selection Boundary

Step 11. Open Hue/Saturation Adjustment Interface

You may want to boost the colour saturation, to improve the effect. Remember that model scenery is often brightly painted so enhancing the saturation helps trick the eye. Press CTRL-U on the keyboard or select Image > Adjustments > Hue/Saturation:

Step 11. Open Saturation Adjustment Interface

Step 12. Boost Saturation

In this example, we boost the Master saturation to +40.

Step 12. Boost Saturation

Step 13. Open Curves Adjustment Interface

It may help to increase the contrast of the image slightly using the Curves adjustment. Press CTRL-M on the keyboard or select Image > Adjustments > Curves:

Step 13. Open Curves Adjustment Interface

Step 14. Adjust Curves

In this example we use a very small S-shaped curve to increase contrast. Take care not to over-do this step; in fact, it may not be necessary at all.

Step 14. Adjust Curves

Step 15. Finished

Here’s the finished image.

Step 15. Finished

This entry was posted on Thursday, January 26th, 2012 at 1:51 pm and is filed under Digital Photography, Photoshop Lessons. You can leave a comment and follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

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