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Create A Digital Bokeh Effect

In this tutorial, we’ll be creating a digital bokeh effect with Photoshop. According to Wikipedia, bokeh is the way the lens renders out-of-focus points of light. This effect helps the eye to focus on an object while also making the background visually appealing.

Final Result:

A) Creating a Bokeh Brush

Step 1:

In order to create the bokeh effect, we’ll first need to create a bokeh brush. Create a new document 500 X 500 pixels in size and with a transparent background. Then create a perfect circle by selecting the Elliptical Marquee Tool and holding down the Shift key. Fill it with any color.

Step 2:

Go to Edit – Stroke and set the Inside stroke to black 8 px. It will look like this.

Lower the Opacity to 50% to get a more transparent look instead of a solid bokeh brush.

Step 3:

Now that we’ve created the brush, go to Edit>Define Brush Preset, name your brush “BOKEH” and save it. You can now see the newly created brush in your Brush Panel (Windows – Brushes).

B) Setting the Brush

Step 1:

Change the brush settings to as shown below:

C) Creating Bokeh Effects

Step 1:

Before we start painting our bokeh, let’s create a new layer ( 900×900 ) and fill it with a colorful gradient. I created a new layer and used the layer styles (Layer >Layer Style>Blending Options) to do this, but feel free to do it any way you prefer. Here’s how my document looks like so far.

Step 2:

Create a new layer and name it Bokeh 1. Select the Brush Tool (B) and set its color as white. Now simply paint some circles with your custom brush. Use a big brush size for this first layer. Then change the Blend Mode to Color Dodge.

After that, go to Filter – Blur – Gaussian Blur. Set to 18 pixels.

Create another layer and repeat the previous step. However, use a much smaller brush this time.

Repeat the same steps for the different layers of bokeh effects until you get the results that you like.

Step 3:

Lastly, adjust the colors to enhance the bokeh effects.

Play around with the Brush Size, Brush Color, Blend Modes and Blur Radius to get your ideal results.

Here are a few other bokeh samples I tried out.

Image ID: 501849 © Lev Dolgatshjov

Image ID: 5826697 © Alexander Yakovlev

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