In this Photoshop CS5 retouching tutorial, we will take a regular image to re-create the filter of soft focus used in photography. We are going to use the gaussian blur option to distort the image’s background a little bit, a layer mask to make the main subject sharp, and a photo filter to add a morning light appearance.

This Photoshop CS5 tutorial is part of a series about beauty retouching tricks for photographers or designers who are new to prepare images for catalogs, portfolios, presentations, etc.


Look for the image you would like to enhance by adding a soft focus effect and open it in Photoshop CS5.
For this tutorial I am going to use the following image provided by You can use your own image or download this image at the end of this tutorial.
NOTE: Images of people will work the best.

At the LAYERS palette (Window > Layers), right-click its layer and choose Duplicate Layer.
Now we have two layers, one named “Background” and the other named “Background copy”. We are going to apply the effects to the “Background copy” layer so we can have the original image as it is to compare the difference at the end.


Select the “Background copy” layer and go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur. Enter a Radius of about 8.5 pixels and click OK.


I know… the image now looks very blurry. Let’s fix that by lowering the “Background copy” layer’s Opacity to 60%.


At the bottom of the LAYERS palette click the Add layer mask icon (Add layer mask icon). Notice that a mask was added to our “Background copy” layer:

Press the letter D key to set the foreground and background colors to white and black. Then, press the letter X key to set the foreground color to black.

Next, select the Brush Tool (B); at its options bar choose a Soft Brush with Opacity of 40%:

Paint over the main subject, in my case, the girl modeling:


To finish with our image enhancement, at the bottom of the LAYERS palette click the Create new fill or adjustment layer icon () and choose Photo Filter from its flyout menu.
Notice that a Photo Filter adjustment layer was created:

When we clicked the Create new fill or adjustment layer icon the ADJUSTMENTS layer appeared. In there, select the Warming Filter (LBA) with a Density of 30%.
This adjustment lets us add a nice daylight effect.

Final result:

That’s all. This technique helps to add the nice finishing touch to warm and smooth any image.