This GIMP (GNU) tutorial demonstrates how to soften a portrait by applying a soft focus effect. To work along, you are welcome to download the Start Image I am working with Here. Unzip the file and open the image onto GIMP’s workspace.
Each photograph is unique, and therefore has different needs. With this in mind, when working with your image, it’s important to experiment with the settings outlined in this tutorial.
You can quickly Undo a step at any time by pressing Ctrl then Z. Alternatively, click a previous Undo History snapshot - Windows then Dockable Dialogues then click Undo History. In addition, to Zoom in (or Zoom out) of your image; from the top menu, choose View then select a Zoom Tool from the subsequent drop-down
Launch GIMP & Organise Its Workspace & Palettes
Open your choice of Start Image onto GIMP’s workspace - File then Open - Ctrl then O.
Ensure the Layers and the Undo History Palettes are visible, and then drag them into position over your workspace - (Windows then Dockable Dialogues - then click Layers and Undo History).
Now, right-click over the Background Layer, and choose Duplicate Layer from the subsequent drop-down list.
Then from the left-side Toolbox, activate the Free Select Tool.
And enter the following Add to the current selection setting into the left-side Options Box.
You are looking to click-and-stretch a “Lasso Line” around your subject’s face and neck area - with the aim of isolating it with a Selection Marquee. My Tutorial Here demonstrates how to utilise the Free Select Tool. Therefore, working on the Background Copy
Layer, carefully click and stretch a Lasso around the subject’s face and neck.
After you have applied your Lasso, complete the circuit by passing your cursor over the exact point where you began, and then double-left-click.
Tip - Retracing Your Steps
Whilst you are applying the Lasso Line; - and before the Selection Marquee has been
applied, to go back one step - press your Keyboard’ Delete/Backspace Key. Press your chosen Key for however many steps you want to go back - (this is for Window PC users,
I am unfamiliar with Mac’s). Tapping the Escape Key completely removes the Lasso Line/Selection Marquee.
Tip: Disable The Free Select Tool
Activating any other Tool, perhaps the Move Tool: will disable the Free Select Tool.
Still working on the Background Copy Layer. From the top menu, choose Filters then choose Blur and then choose Gaussian Blur. Now, from the subsequent Gaussian Blur dialogue box, enter the following Blur Radius settings, and then click OK.
Then from the top menu, choose Edit and then choose Fade Gaussian Blur. And from the subsequent Fade Gaussian Blur dialogue box, enter an Opacity setting of around 49, and then click Fade.
From the top menu, choose Filters then choose Enhance and then choose Sharpen.
Sharpen Images Tutorial
Fade Sharpen Filter Note
If necessary, Fade the Sharpen Filter, as demonstrated back in Chapter 5.
From the top menu, choose Colours and then choose Hue-Saturation. And from the subsequent Hue-Saturation dialogue box, increase the Saturation to around 26, and then click OK.
Now, from the top menu, choose Select and then choose Select None.
You will find the next step easier if you enlarge your image by Zooming into it.
I zoomed in twice.
9/ Add An Alpha Channel To The Background Copy Layer
Now, from the Layers Palette: right-click over the Background Copy Layer, and from the subsequent drop-down list, click Add Alpha Channel.
Then from the left-side Toolbox, activate the Eraser Tool.
And enter the following Soft (Fuzzy) Round Brush settings into the Options Box.
You can quickly change the Brush’s Scale (Size) by tapping your Keyboard’s Square Bracket Keys.
Now, (still working on the Background Copy Layer); left-click and remove unwanted blurred areas; for example, over the eyes, lips and teeth - as illustrated below.
When you happy with your work: from the top menu, choose Image and then choose Flatten Image.
Blur Tool Tip
You can blur specific areas using the left-side Toolbox’s Blur Tool: setting a low Blur Rate.
However, don’t overuse the Blur Tool.
Congratulations, your Soft Focus Conversion is complete, and it is ready to save - top menu, then File then Save As.
Wendi E. M. Scarth. Top of Page.