Create a Soft Focus Effect

In photography, the soft focus effect is created using special camera lenses. But with image editing apps, it’s a snap to create a soft focus effect in any of your images.

Layers, the Polygon Lasso Tool, the Blur effect and the Gradient Tool are used in this tutorial.

Step 1

Open the image to which you would like to add a soft focus effect.

Step 2

Click to select the Polygon Lasso Tool in the Tools palette and start selecting the object you want to focus on. Use any of the selection tools or a combination of them to make the selection.

Step 3

Copy the selected object. Choose Edit > Duplicate. A new layer named “Layer via Copy” is created.

Step 4

Invert the selection by choosing Edit > Invert Selection.

Next, to copy the background content, select the Background Layer in the Layers palette. Then, choose Edit > Duplicate. A new layer is created with the background except for the main object.

Step 5

Apply the Gaussian effect to blur the new layer. In the Effects Browser, double-click the Gaussian thumbnail to apply the effect. Adjust the Radius slider until you are happy with the effect.


Give your image some color with the Gradient Tool.

Create a new layer by clicking the Add Button (+) in the Layers palette. Next, click to select the Gradient Tool in the Tools palette. In the Gradients palette (View > Show Gradients), pick the purple gradient preset and select the Radial option from the available menu. Apply the gradient.

Finally, change the Gradient layer Blending mode to Soft Light and reduce the Opacity to around 70%. And, that’s all!


Tutorial Comments

  1. Brad Arnold

    I completed step 1 & 2 but did not find “Duplicate” under “Edit”. I found it under “File” but can not seem to make this process work.

  2. Ausra


    Have you got the latest Pixelmator version? Edit > Duplicate should be there.

  3. Dj

    How to select multiple objects to focus?

  4. Ausra

    You can turn on the “add to” selection mode in the Tool Options bar to select multiple objects.

  5. Jennifer


    I did the first couple steps but the layers palette does not come up.

  6. Ausra

    @Jennifer, if you can’t see the Layers palette, choose View > Show Layers.

  7. Vladimir Campos

    Hi, how do I “Apply the gradient”? Couldn’t seam to find this option.

  8. Angela

    Selecting multiple objects answer is not quite right. The “add to” option is nowhere to be found on the tool options menu. I ALWAYS need to select multiple objects and can’t find this simple task demonstrated anywhere. WHY?

  9. Shanti

    Thanks for a clear and easy to follow article 🙂

  10. no down payment auto insurance in Racine WI

    Kudos to you! I hadn’t thought of that!

  11. Danisa Rais

    Simple and nice tutorial.