I talked about the photographic techniqe known as Tilt-Shift before, but I had never tried it myself and so I thought it was time to give it a go. Proper tilt-shift makes use of a special lens, but they are not cheap and so I turned to Photoshop to "fake" the effect. I have since discovered a website called tiltshiftmaker.com which does a very good job for you, but it is more fun doing it yourself right? So what follows is my little tutorial which is a combination of others I have found on the web. Just like my other tutorial, experimentation is key to get good results.
I took the following photograph off the Carrington Bridge in Worcester the other night and hoped it would make an ideal candidate. Really any photograph will do as long as the angle is such that you are looking down on your subject. Either from above, or better still at a steep angle. This is simply because the effect you are looking for is that of a model and you would usually view a model from above. As always, click to enlarge any of the pictures.
The first step is to choose the area that you would like to remain in focus. This will depend greatly on your photograph. In this case, I want the majority of the boats in focus but not the surrounding area. To make it easier to visualise, we switch to Quick Mask Mode by clicking the marked button or by pressing Q.
Now click on the gradient tool (marked) and ensure that the reflected gradient (circled) is the option selected.
Now draw a vertical line on your picture, that starts from the centre of the area you wish to remain in-focus, up to the point where the transition to out-of-focus is completed. Because we are in Quick Mask Mode, you should see something like this.
Exit Quick Mask Mode by clicking the same icon or by pressing Q and you should be left with a selected area marked out on your photograph. Now from your menus choose Filter > Blur > Lens Blur. This is an area where experimentation is important but I used the settings below. Once you are happy, click OK.
Now choose Ctrl-D to deselct and back to the menus to choose Image > Adjustments > Hue/Saturation. Increasing the saturation slider to a value of around 40 will give the "painted" look that your model needs. Again, 40 was my choice, you need to use what looks good to you. My final result is below, but a full size version along with my other photos can be found on my Flickr account here.