Tutorial: Fake Lensbaby Effect in Photoshop

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I am not a member of the Lensbaby Fan Club.  Honestly, I could never understand spending $300 on a lens to create this effect on-camera.  I would much rather take a sharp photo (as a source) and create the selective focus effect in Photoshop.  Plugins like FocalPoint and Bokeh make it even easier to create this effect directly in Photoshop.  But, with a little effort, you can create the selective focus effect yourself just with Photoshop.

1.  Draw a mask around the area to be sharp and invert it


Using the Elliptical Marquee Tool, draw a round selection over the area which should remain sharp.  Now Invert the selection (Shift+Ctrl+I on PC or Shift+?+I on Mac) and save this selection as a Channel.

2.  Apply a Radial Blur to the new Channel


With the new channel highlighted, go to Filter > Blur > Radial Blur.  Lensbaby photos have an irregular blur effect caused by tilting the lens.  I used a Zoom Blur with a high amount (ex. 85) to recreate the irregular blur.  In the dialog box, you can click in the Blur Center and drag the center to the approximate place of the center of the Channel.

3. Smooth the blur with a Gaussian Blur


The Channel needs to be a little smoother.  With the new channel still highlighted, go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and select a high pixel radius to smooth it out.

4. Apply a Lens Blur using the Blurred Channel


Now for the magic!  Click back to the Layers Tab and highlight the photo layer.  With this Layer highlighted, go to Filter > Blur > Lens Blur. I used the following settings:

  • Depth Map selecting the blurred mask which I just created.
  • Shape of Hexagon (6).
  • Radius of 70
  • Blade Curvature of 70
  • Rotation of 45
  • Distribution with Gaussian

5. Lightening the blurred area


To provide some additional separation between the sharp area and the blurred area, I loaded the blurred channel again on the photo layer.  Using Levels (either an Adjustment Layer or direct application), I dragged the Midtones slider to the left to lighten the blurred area.

6. Super Saturate for additional effect


With the blurred channel selection still in place, I decided to increase the saturation of the blurred area.  Using Hue/Saturation (either an Adjustment Layer or direct application), I dragged the Saturation slider to the right to over-saturate the blurred area.

7.  Final Result


NOTE – be sure to take a look at my article on Topaz Labs  new plugin called Lens Effects.  It also can create the Lensbaby selecting focus effect (Tilt-Shift effect), along with a whole lot more.


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3 Replies to “Tutorial: Fake Lensbaby Effect in Photoshop”

  1. I think the saturation was a bit to much, or perhaps just to much saturation. Try it with about half the saturation and see how it looks, maybe a small adjustment to the vibrancy as well.

  2. That’s a good point. I was trying to show how far you can go with Photoshop once you have the blur channel mask created. You can modify the technique to suit your own needs.

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