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Bokeh Effects

Lesson 3 from: Special Effects for Composite Photography

Corey Barker

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Lesson Info

3. Bokeh Effects

Next Lesson: Light Frame Effect

Lesson Info

Bokeh Effects

Another light effect that kind of includes brushes, I'm gonna get more brushes in just a little bit but I want to show you another one, this is something I actually developed a few years ago. A friend of mine was in a photo studio and he was trying to achieve that bokeh effect in the studio, you know the lights that are in the long distance so he was in the studio and he's setting up lights in the back of the studio and he's got the model in the foreground, everything like that and I'm like, "What are you doing?" And he's like, "Trying to do this bokeh effect," and he showed me a sample picture and I'm just like huh. So I went in my office and just started playing and then came up with a brush for it and it made his entire shoot pointless. 'Cause I showed it to him and he's just like, "No, no," but I'll show you how to do that... 'Cause achieving the bokeh effect shooting it, it takes a little skill, it's not easy but then sometimes I've had people ask me, you know, "I've got a photo t...

hat would be cool with a bokeh effect "but it's already been shot, can I add it in there?" I say, "Absolutely," so this is another brush thing. You can create the brush and save it and use it anytime so I'm just gonna make a document. Let's do it a square format, let's do 1500 by and I'm gonna make the background black, I'm just gonna press Command or Control I, that just inverts the default background. Let's make a new blank layer and let's go and get the brush tool. So we're gonna use, for this effect, we're gonna use everything that's in Photoshop, we're actually gonna use the custom brushes, in fact we're just gonna go in here and select a regular round brush, don't need it quite that big, size that down. And now we're gonna go in here into the brush options. This is perhaps one of my top five favorite panels in Photoshop because I'm still discovering cool stuff all the time with this. The variables you can play with with brushes and the various effects and layer styling, you can achieve a lot of really interesting effects sometimes. Not all the time. There'll be times I spend an hour on something and it completely goes nowhere but you never know until you try so we got a simple round brush here. Now I'm gonna take this first, I'm in the brush tip shapes section of the brush panel and we're gonna first thing we do is increase the spacing, I really want to space these out a little bit. And while the preview down here gives you a good representation, every now and then and this is just something I like to do, I'll make that new blank layer and I'll do a command A to select all the document and I keep it selected and then I just go in here and just brush a little bit, see how my brush is behaving, then I just hit Delete. So I can just measure how it's gonna perform and then I go in here and make some more changes so we got the spacing in there. Now let's go into scattering and we're gonna increase the amount of scattering, I'm gonna do it on both axes here. And let's vary that so that looks pretty good. Activate shape dynamics and I'm gonna go in here and adjust my size jitter and all that means is as I paint, it's gonna vary the size of that brush so if I got in here now, I can see I'm getting varying sizes of that brush and that looks pretty good. And you can actually set the minimum so by dialing up the minimum diameter, you're decreasing or you're increasing the minimum size so it might, at zero, you can get a very, very small dot at some point. See how that's very, very tiny? If you don't want it to go that small, you can just dial this minimum diameter up a little bit so I'm just gonna push it up to about 15, there we go. So I won't get any dots smaller than 15% now, I've limited it to that. So that's looking pretty good. I'm thinking I want to increase the spacing now. Now that I've put the scattering on. And I'm gonna go in here and push that spacing out a little bit more. And that looks pretty good, okay. Now, gonna go down here and activate transfer, this is where you can modify the opacity of the brush as it paints. You have a couple options here, now if you're not using a pressure sensitive tablet, I have to ask, "Why?" No... But there are times, depending on the effect I'm going for, I'll use pen pressure here because I am using a pressure sensitive tablet, I don't use pressure all the time. I've actually asked people and they say, "Well I'm thinking about getting a tablet "but I don't really use pressure sensitive," it's like here's the good thing, you can turn the pressure off but you still have the tablet. And I rarely use pressure, I'm always using it very sparingly but in this case, I'm actually not going to use it but I am gonna go ahead and take the opacity slider and dial it up to a full 100%, it varies now the opacity as I paint. By doing it on pen pressure, I'll just show you, it responds, you know what, pen pressure actually looks better, I'm gonna stay with pen pressure. But it responds to how light or how hard I press on the tablet so if I just very lightly drag it across the tablet very faintly in there but now if I press harder, it's gonna get a lot more dense. So already I'm getting that bokeh look about it but we've gotta make a few adjustments. I want it to be a little softer. So I'm gonna go in here into that brush tip shape section I started with and gonna go in here to the hardness and let's dial that down a little bit, give it a little bit softer edge on those dots there, maybe a little bit more, let's go down to about 75 maybe. Yeah, that looks good, okay. Now, if I want the bokeh effect to be one color, it's just a simple matter of going in here and choosing a color so I go with this yellow and go in here and I start painting, there I'm getting that kind of cool bokeh effect and now I can just add it to an image and that would look great. In fact if I go in here, got an image, I'm gonna go, just kind of give you an idea of how this looks. Oh, there she is, okay. Got a cool background here so if I just take my brush here and let's maybe do a light blue color. And that's gonna add a new level of atmosphere to the photo. You can even take it to an extreme 'cause my motto is, "Why stop there?" Let's make a new layer and really make the brush crazy big and add foreground bokeh. And just have 'em kind of overlapping on top of her and you've got simple bokeh that quickly. Now it's a brush that I can use anytime but what if you wanted it to be multiple colors? That's one color but if you're going for a city in the background in the far distance, something like that, you want to see varying colors there. One method is, of course, you can go in there and choose a different color for each brush and dab a few bokehs around with different colors or go back into that brush panel and we're gonna go in here to the shape, or color dynamics rather, I'm sorry, color dynamics, activate that and you see a number of sliders here, what we're gonna go for is the hue jitter right here, I'm just gonna dial this up to around 50%. Now the thing about the hue jitter is that you can't start with black or white as your foreground color when you're doing a hue jitter 'cause black or white technically isn't a color in a sense. So we're gonna start with, I like this bright yellow color here and with the hue jitter on, as I paint, it's going to vary, well let's dial it up a little bit, there we go, so it varies the hue of the bokeh effect as I paint so there we go. So as you click a new one, you get a new color. I'm going a little extreme with it, that's more like a party. But if I go here a little bit smaller, I can create what would look like lights in the distance. Now just so it sells the distance a little bit more, I'm gonna go back into the brush tip shape and bring that hardness down even more, make it a lot softer and now let's put these in the distance. And you can subtly put, maybe the shapes of some buildings back here like that and if you wanted to enhance it a little bit more, the distance, you could just throw a little gaussian blur on it. And of course that bokeh element is now on its own layer, you can reposition it, erase certain elements you don't want or something like that so that's a simple way of creating a bokeh effect. And this is what I ended up showing to that photographer friend of mine and he's like... But if you're in a position to shoot it, obviously you want to get it in camera but this is just really cool to have in your pocket if you have an event where you add this after the fact.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Special Effects for Composite Photography Bonus

Ratings and Reviews

Pat Saizan

Great short course. Love to see advanced photoshop classes like this. Cory is great and an excellent instructor.

Beth Krzes

i found this class to be very informative. the image and description were a bit misleading but I did enjoy the subjects covered. well worth the time. I think he went through the steps quickly, you do need a better than average understanding of layers and tools as he isn't always clear as to the "path" of how to do certain steps. I took notes, attempted the project and listened to the lesson again to reiterate the sections that my notes weren't too clear. also was more focused on watching the process vs just writing it down. would recommend this class to anyone who wants to step up their skils in PS.

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