How to create a natural-looking depth of field effect in Photoshop
posted Thursday, June 20, 2019 at 11:30 AM EDT
If you try to blur the background of a portrait in Photoshop, you may find that you get strange halos and oddities around the edges of your subject. Fortunately, there are techniques you can use to reduce the halos around edges and be able to cleanly add artificial depth of field to your images. In the video below, Colin Smith of PhotoshopCAFE breaks it down.
An important aspect of creating a natural-looking depth of field effect in Photoshop is making the effect be graduated. This means that the area closer to the distance your subject is from the camera is not as blurred as areas further away. The first step is to convert your photo to a smart object in Photoshop, which ensures future file flexibility. Next, click Filter > Blur Gallery > Field Blur. When the Field Blur menu appears, there are different options we can adjust, including the strength of the effect. Now, you need to add a second point by clicking on the image, as you can see in Smith's tutorial below. Keep in mind, we want to make the effect strongest as we move further away from the subject while minimizing the effect on the subject itself.
Since some of the effect impacts the subject when the filter is enabled, we need to create a selection and layer mask to eliminate the Field Blur from the subject. The magic wand tool and other automatic selections work pretty well, but when you zoom in, you'll notice some strange halos and odd edges. Find out how to fix the edges in the video below.