Wednesday, September 25

CoffeeShop Once Upon a Time - Custom, Photoshop/PSE Action and Tutorial!

Thanks for putting up with my domain transfer today!  My domain is now registered through GoDaddy and my blog is hosted by Blogger and it is a happy mix.  I am excited that I am back up because I wanted to post my newest action and tutorial, Once Upon a Time - Custom!

A few days ago I posted an Action Flashback post where I used two actions on this image (Once Upon a Time and Sun Kissed).  I decided to rewrite Once Open a Time so that you can use it to add custom depth of field effects using the gaussian blur filter.  In the image above I wanted the forest behind the boys to be blurred and that would not be possible with the action as it was originally written.  So today I am posting the new version (which does not replace the original, just a new addition to your editing toolbox) and a step-by-step tutorial on using it and adding blue to a washed out sky.

Here is one of my images.  I want to make it a bit more magical and add more depth-of-field and color.

Start the action and adjust the Gaussian blur to blur your background and add depth-of-field.  You can always add more or reduce the opacity later if you want.

This is what my image looked like after the action finished.  Now on to editing the layers.

The first thing I do is click on to select the white layer mask by the Blur layer and paint over the couple with a soft, 100% opacity black brush.  I clicked on "\" so I could see red where I was removing the blur (click "\" again to remove it).  I also removed the blur across the bottom of the image so that the depth-of-field effect would look more realistic.  I used a 50% opacity black brush to paint some over the grass on the top of that area so that the grass would blend more into the blurred area.

Now I could lower the opacity of the Blur layer, or add more blur by selecting that layer and running the Gaussian Blur filter on it once again.

Here is my image after I played with each layer's opacity.  I put the Vignette layer to 81%, Contrast to 78%, Pop to 10%, and Blur to 85%.  I am not happy with the washed out sky and want to add a hint of color without having to resort to adding a sky texture.  Sometimes I don't want clouds but just a simple color tint and this is a great editing trick to add one!

I added a blue color fill adjustment layer on top (hex#7ecaf5) and put in Multiply blending mode.

I clicked on the white layer mask of the blue layer and filled it in with black, and then used a soft white brush at 100% opacity to paint on the blue sky.  After adding the blue I turned down the opacity to 35% so it was a soft blue wash.  This is just one way you can add a subtle color wash to white skies.

Finally, I think the Vignette layer was too bright in the middle of the image, so I clicked to select its white layer mask and used a 100% opacity soft, black brush and painted over their faces.  Now I am happy with this edit.

I hope you enjoy this new adjustable action and tutorial! You can use this effect on portraits, landscapes, flowers, etc.  It is a really fun way to add drama to a flat, boring shot.

Download the free CoffeeShop Once Open a Time-Custom Photoshop/PSE Action. You can also download it here.

Do you want to download my favorite CoffeeShop Actions or Design Elements in one convenient zipped file AND help support this blog? Just click here for my action pack or here for a download of some of my most popular design elements, storyboards, and textures.

For complete info on installing all of my actions, click here.


  1. How is the pop layer made? What are the numbers you used for the contrast and saturation adjustment layer? Is the Vinegette layer just a linear gradient? or is it something else? What did you do for the dodge layer?

    1. I can't remember! Just open and run it in Photoshop and take it apart then. :-)


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