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From the author of Finishing Touches

Finishing Touches

If you have time, there are a few extra steps you can take to finish your effect before returning the image to Photoshop. Darkening the edges of the frame a bit (this accentuates the bokeh effects created earlier), and brushing detail back into areas that were blurred accidentally, or brushing in more blur, can all be useful. These tasks are accomplished using the Vignette panel, and the Focus Brush (with Focus Brush panel), respectively.

If you click the paintbrush icon at the bottom of the window, you can use the Focus Brush panel to set your basic brush size and feather options, and most importantly whether you are going to “Paint Focus” into the areas you want to retouch, or “Paint Blur” into them. The button icon at the top-left of the panel controls this option; click it to change the mode. Here I wanted to paint in a bit of extra blur along the ridgeline at left to smooth out that transition area (Figure 11).

Figure 11 The Focus Brush is a handy way to add subtle amounts of blur or focus to select regions of the photo, without adding multiple Focus Bugs to the workflow.

If you click the Wacom Controls Opacity checkbox, you can use stylus pressure to paint in the blur or focus at more subtle levels. If you need to start over, click the Reset Mask button. This is very useful, as it will undo your brush strokes but not your prior edits. You can also use standard Photoshop brush shortcuts to enlarge the brush diameter and control the feathering. Typically I add a substantial amount of feathering when performing Focus Brush actions to keep the transitions subtle.

The final step is to add a bit of Vignette to complete the focus illusion. Turn off the “Vignette Follows Focus Bug” if you want the vignette to use the natural edges and corners of the document. From there, a Midpoint value around 50 ensures the vignette doesn’t take over the edges of the frame, and a Lightness value between 25 and 40 will usually do the trick, depending on the lighting in the shot (Figure 12).

Figure 12 The Vignette controls add an extra touch that tends to accentuate the blur effect, and focuses attention toward the center of the frame.

To apply your blur effects to the image, click the Apply button at bottom right. After several seconds, the image will appear back in Photoshop with changes applied. You can even apply this plugin’s settings nondestructively using a Smart Object layer as a starting point, if you choose to! The final image is shown in Figure 13.

Figure 13 The final Planar blur effect.

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