Learn how to have fun with your images in Paint Shop Pro 8, including how to rease part of a layer, how to remove unwanted objects from an image, how to create a soft focus effect, and more. This article is from chapter 15 of Paint Shop Pro 8 in a Snap, by Jennifer Fulton (Sams, 2004, ISBN: 0672323893.)
Creating Visual Effects - Create a Soft Focus Effect (Page 4 of 11 )
Before You Begin
About Layers and the Layer Palette
Erase Part of a Layer
Blur a Background to Create Depth of Field
To apply a soft, romantic look to an image, you can use the Soft Focus filter. This filter applies a soft blur to the entire layer or selection and adds a glow around any bright areas it finds. The filter comes with many presets to help you get started; you can, of course, modify these settings as you like. The Softness and Edge importance settings control the amount of overall blur and the degree to which edges are blurred. A higher Softness value causes more blur, while a higher Edge importance value protects the edges from being blurred too much.
You can control the glow or halo that follows the contours of objects in the image by adjusting the Amount, Halo size, and Halo visibility settings. The Amount value controls the strength of the glow; lower values cause the halo to appear only around very bright areas. The Halo size setting controls the width of the glow effect. To create a subtle glow, use a low Halo visibility setting; higher settings create a more obvious glow around bright areas. Because there are so many settings to adjust, and because the Soft Focus filter blurs the entire layer or selection, I like to control the effect somewhat by using it on a duplicate layer, and then softly sharpening important features such as a person's eyes, nostrils, and mouth. In this task, you'll learn how to perform this same trick.
Tip - To soften the bright areas in the background so that they don't dominate the image, be sure to enable the Include scattered light option.
Note - Although you can apply the Soft Focus filter to a selection, you will probably not like the result because it won't blend well with the rest of the layer, even if you feather the selection.
If the image has more than one layer, select the layer you want to soften from the Layer palette. Then click the Duplicate Layer button on the Layer palette, or select Layers, Duplicate.
Select Soft Focus Filter
Select Adjust, Softness, Soft Focus from the main menu. The Soft Focus dialog box appears.
Tip - For a soft, blurry look, try the Dream, New morning, Very soft, or Youthen/Youthen 2 preset. For a more focused effect, try Soft portrait or Painting. For a big blur, try Fog, Watercolor, or Blurred big halo.
Adjust Settings and Click OK
The easiest way to apply a soft focus is to open the Presets list, select a preset, and then adjust the settings as desired. Click OK to apply those settings.
The Soft Focus filter blurs everything, including the features of your subject's face. This causes the image to lose impact because the viewer's eye depends on sharp features to distinguish a person. Select the Eraser tool from the Tools toolbar. On the Tool Options palette, lower the Hardness and Opacity values to create a soft brush, and then lightly brush over the eyes, nostrils, and mouth areas of your subject. This action reveals the original, sharp layer underneath, bringing the features back into focus.
You can lessen the effect further by lowering the Opacity of the soft focus layer on the Layer palette. After you're satisfied with the image, merge the layers together by selecting Layers, Merge, Merge All (Flatten).
Tip - If you sharpen too large an area, brush back over it using the right mouse button, which "unerases" the soft focus layer.
View the Result
I've always liked this picture of my mother smiling down on me as a young baby, but I thought a soft focus might improve it just a little. I started with the Dream preset and made some adjustments. Then I sharpened our features just a bit, placing the focus clearly on our looks of delight and love.
This chapter is from Paint Shop Pro 8, by Jennifer Fulton, (Sams, 2004, ISBN: 0672323893). Check it out at your favorite bookstore today.