“Refocusing” an Image in Adobe Photoshop CS5

Have you ever snapped an image that might have been perfect had it been taken with a more softly focused background? There’s a quick and easy way to give that effect in Photoshop!

ernie unedited

Our original image.

Here’s an image of an Ernie cap that I took for our neighborhood project. It’s not too bad on its own, but I’d like to give the background a slightly softer focus. To do that, we’re first going to select everything that isn’t Ernie. (I’ve found that in some cases, it’s much easier to select the foreground object and then invert the selection).

ernie selected

Our foreground, Ernie, selected.

Once again, I’m going to go ahead and invert the selection.

inverting the selection in Photoshop

The “Inverse Selection” command.

This results in the selection of everything that wasn’t originally selected and the deselection of what was originally selected. (A tongue twister, I know!)

Now, we jump into the “Lens Blur” tool:

lens blur under blur context menu

Selecting the Lens Blur.

The Lens Blur tool

Our Lens Blur settings.

You can tweak the values in here to get the blurring just right, but for this tutorial I’m just going to use the “radius” setting. Essentially, the higher this setting, the more dramatic the blurring is going to be. I wanted the background to be really soft relative to the foreground, so I brought it up fairly high.

Our final image

Our final image.

And there you have it! A foreground in sharp focus compared to its background! As a side note — there are a few “rough spots’” around Ernie’s head. For the purposes of this tutorial, I didn’t go through the trouble of deselecting them, but I highly urge you to for your websites.

— Ryan

~ by Ryan Craig on November 6, 2011.

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