This week, our guest Photoshop Expert Eric Renno, aka Tip Squirrel demonstrates how to optimise the Tilt Shift in Photoshop CC and Photoshop CC 2014…..


Recent updates to Photoshop have seen the introduction of some great filters including three additions to the Blur Gallery. One of these is the Tilt-Shift Blur. This effect was originally caught only using specialist lenses but photographers soon realised they could replicate it in Photoshop.

Seeing its rise in popularity Adobe added a dedicated filter to create the effect.

Choosing The Image

Most Tilt-Shift images are made to look like a toy town, or miniature villages and therefore, for this effect your starting image needs to be taken from a high vantage point. In this example I’ve chosen the below lovely image.

View on HeidelbergKeep It Smart

Regular readers will know I’m a big fan of Smart Objects and Smart Filters, you can find out more about these here. I’m going to covert the image to a Smart Object from the Filter Menu:


I can see that the layer is a Smart Object thanks to this little icon that appears on the layer’s icon:


Add A Photoshop Filter

In Photoshop CC 2014 there’s a great new filter dedicated to the effect I’m after, I’ll choose it from the menu:


This opens a new dialogue box that allows me to position and alter the Tilt-Shift blur to suit my exact requirements.

The Tilt-Shift Dialogue Box


(1) This point has two functions. Firstly it ‘pins’ the centre of the blur effect and it can control the amount of blur being applied.

To move the blur pin click, hold and drag it to a new location. Release the mouse button to drop the pin. To add and remove blur here click the outer circle and drag it around the circle. This can be a little tricky but you can dial in an amount of blur, or use a more traditional slider in the controls on the right hand side (4).

(2) This solid line indicates the starting point of the blur. Between the two solid lines there is no blur. The blur is applied in a feather, or ramp, to the dotted line (3).

(3) Indicates where the blur effect is at 100%.

(4) Dial in the exact amount of blur numerically or with the slider.

(5) This slider determines the amount of distortion the blur causes.

(6) If the image needs to be defocussed as a whole, prior to the Tilt-Shift, then this can be done here. Reducing the percentage adds blur.

Rotate The Blur


Moving the mouse close to the white dot on the blur start line (2) changes it to a double arrow cursor. With the mouse button pressed I can now rotate the blur a little, to match the angle of the main subject.

Finishing Touches and ‘Extra Credit’

That’s all we need to worry about here, but let’s go that little bit further. At the top of the screen is a check box.


Check that, we’ll see the results of that in the next step, for now though I’ll click ‘OK’ and return to the main image.


Open the Channels panel. You may already have it grouped with Layers, if not then choose Window > Channels from the main menu.

Because I checked the box in the last step I have a new channel called ‘Blur Mask’. With the Ctrl (PC) or Cmd (Mac) key pressed click the thumbnail of Blur Mask to make a selection of it.

Return to Layers panel


The selection may not look like it here, but it is a selection of the blur, specifically the feather of the blur.

Darken Down the Blur to Draw the Eye

I’d like to draw the viewer’s eye to the non blurred part of the image so I’ll use the feathered selection to do this. When I create a Levels adjustment layer by going to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Levels, the Levels adjustment is added with a mask created by the selection.


I’ve bought my midtown slider up a little to around .69


Model villages tend to be more saturated so I’ll add a Saturation Adjustment Layer. I’ll use the icon at the bottom of the Layers Panel this time:


And upped the saturation just a little:


And there we are! A Tilt-Shift effect using Photoshop CC’s Blur Gallery Filter.


As always, a big thanks to Eric for supplying this super detailed tutorial. Check out more of his tutorials on his websiteYouTube and you can find him on Facebook and Twitter should you wish to get in touch with him!