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Achieving a Dreamy Effect : Photoshop Tutorial

September 19th, 2008 5 Comments

 Photo credit: chylinski

 Have you ever wondered why some photos look ethereal and dreamy, like the swan photo above? It looks like it came straight from a scene in a fairy tale movie—softly lit, perceptive, fluid, vivid, and it touches something inside of you. You stare at the hints of light that gently touch elements on the photograph; you’re trying to convince yourself it’s a dream. But really, it’s not.
 
It’s just Photoshop.
 
Take a look at the original photo:
 

 
 
 It’s a good enough photo already, right? Although the story and composition can be improved (notice the badly cut reflection of the swan on the water), it makes a great photo of a swan spending her late afternoon dilly-dallying on the lake. To help you turn “simple” into “surreal,” here’s a tutorial on how to achieve a dreamy effect for your photos.
 

  1. Open your chosen photo in Photoshop. This effect works best with well-exposed pictures. You may first adjust brightness and contrast, or do any post-processing adjustment you wish to do with your photo.

 

  1. Create a new layer. From the menu, click Layer, New, and then Layer via Copy. Shortcut: Ctrl + J (Windows)or Cmd + J (Mac).
 
 

  1. A new layer labeled Layer 1 will appear on the Layers palette. This contains your foreground image, which is an exact copy of the background. You may rename your foreground layer if you wish to by double-clicking the layer name. In my case, I labeled it as Foreground.
 
 

  1. Making sure that the foreground layer is highlighted in the Layers palette, pull down the Filters menu and select Blur, then Gaussian Blur.



 

  1. On the Gaussian Blur dialog box, indicate the radius of the blur you wish to apply on your photo. The ideal scale value is when your photo is blurred enough to hide the details, but you should still be able to recognize the image behind it. Start with 5.0 and adjust from there. In the swan photo, I selected a value of 5.0 pixels.
 
 

  1. With the foreground layer still selected in the Layers palette, select the blending mode called Multiply. In this step, watch as your photo instantly turns into something new!
 
 

  1. From an ugly duckling to a glamorous swan, your photo has entered the world of dreams
This could already be the final image. However, depending on how heavily you want to apply the effect, you may change the blending opacity. By default, it is set at 100%. Move the opacity scale in the Layers palette to a lower value and see what you like best.
                 

 
  

  1. Pull down the Layer menu and choose Flatten the Image. This will merge the two layers so that you have just one image.
  1. Finally, click File, save the image as JPEG and you’re done.

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 Responses

  1. gurcharan singh sandhu says:

    i lov the site……because of dreamy effects.

  2. John Morris says:

    Excellent and easy tutorial. Thanks for the post!

  3. […] color shift, and spacing.   4.      Dreamy Photo Remember the Photoshop tutorial on achieving a dreamy effect for your photos? That’s the long-hand; there’s another […]

  4. Learner says:

    This is a very good tutorial, thanks a lot!!!

  5. vomi says:

    nice:D
    first tutorial that i finished and worked good:D
    ty!

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