Tutorial: How to create the Tilt shift effect in Photoshop


This tutorial will show you how to create a tilt shift camera effect in Photoshop. The proper way to do it would be to go out and get a tilt shift lens but they are very expensive and the Photoshop method is really nice – giving you something that is very close to the result which the lens would show.

The principal of this technique is to create a “perspective distortion”. You can make every day scenes look miniaturised which gives the image an eye catching look. This it done by using a very shallow depth of field which is natural to the viewer. Some the best tilt shift pictures show a scene from high up above the subject matter.

Step one – Increase saturation

Increasing the saturation will add to the unnatural look. Open your picture in Photoshop. On the top menu Locate to: image > adjustments > Hue/Saturation.

Locating hue, saturation in photoshop


This will open a console: You want to increase the saturation to by around 30% but you can do more if you wish:

The hue/saturation console in photoshop


Step two – adding some contrast

I think this makes the picture look better. You don’t need to change this setting but i certainly think it gives a better result overall.  locate to: image > adjustments > brightness/contrast



This will bring up the brightness/contract console. I don’t like to increase the settings too high – it just depends on the image in question – in this picture i boosted both the contrast and brightness by 10%:

Adjust brightness/contrast console in photoshop.


Step 3 – create layer from background

We can not work on the background image so we need to create a layer from it: right click on back ground then click “duplicate layer..”



Doing this will open up a console; Call the layer whatever you wish and then click OK.

You will observe that the layer you have just create is on top:

Showing layer position


Step 4 – adding a tilt shift filter

We are now adding the actual effect: Locate to filter > blur > Tilt shift. This will open up a preview box in which the controls for editing the tilt shift effect are located.

Blur filter selection


Once the console opens you will see a circular object in the centre of the screen. Click and drag the centre of the pin to the object which you want to be the main focal point:

tilt shift filer adjustment


On the right hand side of the page there are options for increasing the blur. I recommend going for 30px blur (it really does vary from picture to picture):

increasing the tilt shift blur console


There are two solid lines on the image. These two are the points within which the image will be sharp. You can move these up or down to adjust by clicking on the line and then dragging up or down. There are two dotted lines too. Changing these will adjust how gradual the blurring is – the closer it is to the solid line the harsher the change in blur.

Adding an angle to the tilt shift my also be necessary for some pictures. You can do this by hovering over the dot on the solid line. Click and hold then drag left or right.

Changing the angle of tilt shift

Step 5 Adding some distortion.

You can add some distortion to the picture if you think it adds to the effect. This is done with the distortion tool on the right hand side of the page:

Changing the Systematic distortion tilt shift.


Clicking the “Symmetric Distortion” will give the effect that you were zooming into the picture as you were taking it depending on the what percentage you pick.  I recommend that you go for somewhere in the region of 50%.

This is basic gist to it – Here is the final result!



Please comment below!




Photographer and writer for jhphotographer.co.uk

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