How to Create a Miniature Tilt-Shift Effect in Photoshop

On this video tutorial, Aaron Nace from Phlearn talks demonstrates how to create a miniature effect in Photoshop.

Using miniature effect can be done in camera by using a tilt shift lens (some cameras have this as a “software” effect as well). However you can use a similar type effect in software in Photoshop and create a miniature effect (actual tilt shift lenses are used for architecture or product shots and you can mimic their effect to an extent although they do posses some optical properties that are more difficult or even impossible to imitate such as changing the focus plane of the lens and keeping more of your subject in focus at higher f-stops).

Going back to Photoshop, creating a miniature effect is not difficult but in order to make a good miniature effect you should use a photo which has a lot of details in the center but also details in the center top and bottom. Using a photography from above might also be a good idea for creating convincing miniature effect images.

Start by converting your background layer to a normal layer and convert the image to a smart object (this way you can always come back and change the tilt shift effect). Now go to blur gallery and tilt shift effect. Now you can play with the two center lines which mark the area in focus and the two distant lines which mark the area which is out of focus (you can make a sharp or more gradual transition here).

Typically the more subtle the effect the better and more realistic it looks. You can add a little bit of noise to your image and Nace thinks that adding just a tiny bit of noise might actually “sell” this effect better.

To apply the tilt shift effect check the high quality box on the top and apply and you have a great miniature effect image.

We have looked at Tilt Shift lenses and tilt shift in general several times in the past, including on a video tutorial by Photoshop expert Nicole Dalesio who looks at “Using Tilt-Shift Effects in Photoshop to Create Amazing Miniature Worlds“, lensrentals on how to use Tilt Shift lensesHow to Add a Tilt Shift Lens Blur to Aerial Photos Using Photoshop and even on a spectacular timelapse – The Lion City: Tilt Shift Timelapse Dream and more recently a video by photographer Jay P. Morgan – Using a Tilt-Shift Lens for Focus Control  and  Chris OrwigChris Orwig.

You can find many more Photoshop video tutorials on LensVid’s Photoshop section (you can also find a lot more Phlearn videos on our special Phlearn subsection).


Iddo Genuth
Iddo Genuth is the founder and chief editor of He has been a technology reporter working for international publications since the late 1990's and covering photography since 2009. Iddo is also a co-founder of a production company specializing in commercial food and product visual content.

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