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The Tilt-Shift Miniature Fake Technique in Photoshop CS: A Simple How-To · by Simon Mackie

We don’t wan’t the blur to be applied uniformly throughout the image, we want a band of razor sharp focus at our focus point, with rapid focus falloff either side of it, so we need to apply a mask which Photohop can use as a guide for applying the filter. So switch into Quick mask mode by pressing this button (or pressing Q on your keyboard):

quick mask mode button

We’ll use a gradient to apply the blur from no blur where we want our focus pint to be (in this case, the front of that train) and increase the amount of blur further from that point. So, select the gradient tool:

gradient tool

We’ll use the cylindrical gradient to paint a mask on our image. Select it with this button:

cylindrical gradient tool

Now draw a vertically upwards from where you want the point of focus to be (in this case the front of the closest train) up the screen to the top of the window, and release the mouse button. This willl draw a gradient on the image like this:

quick gradient mask applied

Now come out of quick mask mode and back into standard mode by pressing this button:

edit in standard mode

or by pressing Q on your keyboard again, and you should end up with an area of your image selected – don’t worry that it looks a bit strange, this is the mask:

mask selection applied
Ok, we’ve got our mask applied, so now we need to apply the flter. Go to Filter->Blur->Lens blur…. Now we just need to tweak the settings to get the desired effect. I used the following settings:

lens blur settings

By changing the radius, you can increase or decrease the amount of blur. I find a figure around 20 to be a good startingpoint. You can also play withe the brightness and reduce the threshold in the specular highlights section. It’s best not to go overboard with these settings – leave it quite subtle. Hit OK when you’re happy

So now my image looks like this, which is pretty good:

Trains with tilt-shift blur applied

However, to bring out that “plasticky” model feel, I’m going to bump up the saturation quite a bit. Go to Image->Adjustments->Hue/Saturation… I put the saturation at +35 and also lightened the image a little to give the final result:

Model trains?

I especially like the effect on the information screen on the post next to the train.

I hope that you enjoyed this little tutorial. I hope that you’ll agree that this is a really fun and easy technique. What really makes a realistic miniature image here is not the technique itself, but picking a good source image – one that could easily be a model anyway. Have fun!

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