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Updated March 3, 2009

Enhancing Focus and Highlighting the Subject of an Image

Filed under: Tutorials — tutorials @ 11:02 am

I`m sure you`ve seen this effect before and wondered how it is done. It`s often seen in magazines but this technique of focusing is pretty common in all media formats.

So, how can you do it?

First, let`s find a good picture to use. I will use the following Royalty Free picture:

For this effect to be perfect, I like to have a really clear image. As you can see, this image is a little bit blurry and has a lot of noise in it. So, first, let`s open the image in Reshade – Image Enlarger. With this program I will try to eliminate the noise and sharpen the image (reduce the blur). I use Reshade instead of Photoshop because this program does the job better, and, most important, much easier and quicker. Without using Reshade, the end result will be similar, but will have some blur, noise and artefacts, that I think will ruin the image.

So, after I tried several settings, I ended up using these:

The difference is subtle, but quite visible for the trained eye.

Now, open the modified image in Photoshop. Go to the path panel, and create a new Path. Select the Pen tool and start drawing an outside line for the object you want to focus in the end. Feel free to zoom as much as you want to make all the process easier. It`s not necessarily to make the selection perfect, actually, you can make a rough selection:

Make sure you close the path (end by clicking at the start anchor point). Now, right click on the path in the Path toolbox and click on Make Selection.
Select a Feather Radius of around 20px.

Go to Filter -> Blur -> Radial Blur. Use this settings:

The end result should look something like this:

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