Blur, Layers and Blending Modes, a Magic Mix in Photoshop, Part 3

Continuing our exploration of Layers, Gaussian Blur and Blending Modes, Part 3 explores the approach that I prefer.
In this article we explore a couple of additional ways of doing it, including the one I prefer. It can be more complex but it offers much more control.

Variation 3 – Use a Selection Based on Color Range

1 – The starting image
Blur Tutorial by Wayne J. Cosshall

2 – Select > Color Range
Blur Tutorial by Wayne J. Cosshall

3 – Choose Highlight
Blur Tutorial by Wayne J. Cosshall

4 – The result is a selection of just the highlight areas
Blur Tutorial by Wayne J. Cosshall

5 – Do a copy and paste and you will get just the highlights into a new layer
Blur Tutorial by Wayne J. Cosshall

6 – Change the Blending Mode to the appropriate, in this case Screen, and apply the blur to the level that you want
Blur Tutorial by Wayne J. Cosshall

The trouble with this way is that it only selects a very small range of levels as the highlight.

A variation is at Step Three to use Sampled Color rather than Highlight. Use the + and – eyedroppers as well to add or remove from the tonal range being used, also using the Fuzziness slider to expand or contract the area.
Blur Tutorial by Wayne J. Cosshall

The result of doing this is much better.
Blur Tutorial by Wayne J. Cosshall

Variation 4 – My Preferred Approach, Painted Layer Masks

This is the way I tend to work and probably comes from the fact that I am not afraid to paint into a layer mask and I like the absolute control it gives me. Let’s have a look at one image step by step and then at the key points of some others.

1 – The starting point
Blur Tutorial by Wayne J. Cosshall

2 – Duplicate the layer
Blur Tutorial by Wayne J. Cosshall

3 – Change the Blending Mode to the type you want, here Multiply and then apply the degree of Blur that you want.
Blur Tutorial by Wayne J. Cosshall

4 – Add a Layer Mask to the blurred layer
Blur Tutorial by Wayne J. Cosshall

5 – Now pick a large, soft brush and set the opacity of the brush to something low, like 10%
Blur Tutorial by Wayne J. Cosshall

6 – Paint into the Layer mask with black in areas where you either want to lighten the image (when in Multiply blending mode) and/or sharpen it and slowly build up the degree of mask until you get the effect you want.
Blur Tutorial by Wayne J. Cosshall

7 – The result
Blur Tutorial by Wayne J. Cosshall

And now for some variations on the technique, since every image is unique:

Blur Tutorial by Wayne J. Cosshall

Blur Tutorial by Wayne J. Cosshall

Blur Tutorial by Wayne J. Cosshall

Blur Tutorial by Wayne J. Cosshall

Blur Tutorial by Wayne J. Cosshall

Blur Tutorial by Wayne J. Cosshall

Blur Tutorial by Wayne J. Cosshall

Blur Tutorial by Wayne J. Cosshall

Blur Tutorial by Wayne J. Cosshall

Blur Tutorial by Wayne J. Cosshall

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