How to Create Selective Focusing Effect in Photoshop


Selective focusing is the photographic technique of keeping an area of the scene in focus while the rest of the scene is blurred. This technique has the effect of focusing the viewer’s attention on a particular object or area of the image. If you are not using an SLR camera, this effect can be hard to create because the scene in your viewfinder will always look sharp. With Photoshop Elements, however, you can create such effects without the need for special lenses or equipment.

  • Open a baby image with the sun behind the baby
  • As you can see from the picture, the sun is behind the baby, leaving it in the shadows. You must, therefore, first brighten the baby up before creating the selective focusing effect.

How to Create Selective Focusing Effect in Photoshop Focusing Effect in Photoshop

  • Pick the Selection Brush Tool from the toolbox. Set Brush to Soft Round, Size to 85 pixels, Mode to Selection, and Hardness to 0%. Brush over the darker areas of the baby to select it.
  • Select the Dodge Tool from the toolbox. Set Brush to Soft Round, Size to 170 pixels, Range to Midtones, and Exposure to 50%. Click and drag over the baby to brighten it up.
  • Now, in order to create the selective focusing effect, you need to select the entire baby. Pick the Selection Brush Tool. Set Brush to Soft Round, Size to 200 pixels, Mode to Selection, and Hardness to 0%. Brush over the previously unselected parts of the baby to add them to the selection.
  • In the options bar, set Size to 20 pixels. The smaller brush size allows you to select the edges more precisely.
  • Choose [Select]-[Save Selection] from the menu bar. In the Save Selection dialog box, enter baby in the Name field. Click OK to save the selection for later use. Press [Ctrl] + [D] to dese¬lect.
  • Modifying a selection. If you want to remove an area from a selection, hold down the [Alt] key and drag over it.
  • In the Layers palette, drag the Background layer onto the Create A New Layer button to make a copy.
  • Select [Filter]-[Blur]-[Gaussian Blur] from the menu bar. In the Gaussian Blur dialog box, set Radius to 30 pixels. Click OK to blur the copy.
  • Choose [Select]-[Load Selection] from the menu bar. In the Load Selection dialog box, select baby from the Selection drop-down menu. Click OK to load the selection border.
  • Choose [Select]-[Modify]-[Contract] from the menu bar. In the Contract Selection dialog box, set Contract By to 5 pixels. Click OK to shrink the selection bor¬der by 5 pixels.
  • As you will see later, shrinking the selection border helps to soften the border between the image and the background.
  • Press Delete to remove the selection. The sharp image of the baby on the Background layer will show through the blurred copy, thus creating a selective focusing effect. Press [Ctrl] + [D] to deselect.
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About the Author: Justin Belden is a freelance web & graphic designer with over 15 years' experience. He is also an Avid member of the Design/Development community and a Serial Blogger who loves to help people by sharing interesting and informative tips and trick related to computer and technology.

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