Create and Apply Bokeh Overlays In Photoshop

In this tutorial, you will learn to create and apply Bokeh Overlays. We will use photos that are less than perfect to create the overlays, but those bad images will still give us great results.

Create the Bokeh with the Field Blur Filter

The easiest way to create bokeh overlays in Photoshop is to use the Field Blur filter (Filter > Blur Gallery > Field Blur).

This Field Blur contains an Effects tab that allows you to create bokeh out of the bright areas of the images.

Effects Tab Used To Create Bokeh Overlays

As you will see in this video tutorial, the contents of the photo are not important, as long as the images are not too bright.

Here’s an example of what the Effects tab looks like, and the settings that you will need to use to create the bokeh effect.

You will need to adjust the Light Bokeh, Bokeh Color, and Light Range to create the Bokeh effect on most of your photos.

To Adjust the size of the bokeh adds or subtract blur by using the Blur slider. Adding more blur makes the bokeh circles larger.

Apply Bokeh Overlays Using Blending Modes

After you create your bokeh overlay, you can apply it to any image by using the Screen blending mode, which will hide dark pixels and reveal bright ones.

You can then use any adjustment layer that adjusts the luminosity to control the blend. In this tutorial, the Levels Adjustment Layer will be used to control the intensity of the bokeh overlay.

Othe Photoshop Tips & Tricks To Enhance This Photo

Although this tutorial is all about bokeh overlays, we will also take the time to enhance this project by creating other fun effects.

Sun Flare Effect

We will use a similar technique as to what you saw in my Shallow Depth of Field Effect tutorial.


Apply a Color Tone Using a Selective Color Adjustment Layer

In this tutorial, I will also show you how you can apply a color tone (or color grade) to an image using the Selective Color Adjustment Layer.

If you would like to learn more about using adjustment layers to apply color to images, watch my Cinematic Color Grading Tutorial.

Sharpen Eyes With The Sharpen Tool

This video also contains a section where I show you how to sharpen eyes using the Sharpen tool and the Luminosity blending mode. It’s a quick and straightforward technique that achieves great results!

Lens Blur Filter to Apply Noise

To finalize the image, I will show you one of my favorite compositing techniques. By applying film grain or noise to a photo, you make it all tie together, by adding that extra level of realism.

I like to use the Lens Blur filter to add noise since I also it also allows you to add a blur at the same time if need be.

Here’s what you will learn in this Bokeh Overlays Tutorial:

  • Place images into Photoshop Documents.
  • Create bokeh with the Field Blur filter.
  • Apply overlays using Blending Modes.
  • Use Levels to adjust Blending Modes.
  • Use Layer Masks to hide the bokeh effect.
  • Distort images to create better bokeh overlays.
  • Composite overlays onto a photo.
  • Create a sun flare.
  • Use Selective Color to apply a color tone.
  • Sharpen eyes with the Sharpen tool.
  • Apply noise using the Lens Blur filter.

Adobe Stock Image Used:

Final Image

Drag The Slider To See Before & After

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Mario Mifsud

Today again I learned something new from your side which helped me to improve my ability in Photoshop. Once again thanks for your support towards those who wish to learn.

Donald A Ambeau

Great Videos

Teri Egts

Wonderful tutorial in so many ways! I have tried it on some portrait images I shot and it adds so much fun! Thank you!


Hi ! Nice tutorial you have shared here. It proved easy and helpful for me I applied bokeh overlays effect on my images and outcome was mindblowing. Will keep a catch of more similar posts. Please keep it up.


Altijd leuk!!
nieuwe leerdoelen en leerzaam in Adobe Photoshop CC 2017
Het is gewoon TOP.

Groetjes Henk S

Rabi Eka Bobby

Nice, I Love This Tutorial


Whaoooo! Thank you so much ! I wanted to buy some light and bokeh overlays, but with your tuto, i will train myself to product mines … Thnayou again !

Ian's Open Shutter

An excellent, well presented tutorial, delivered in a clear concise manner very easy to follow but as with most tutorials I also take notes for future reference so the pause button was used frequently.
Could you do a video or direct me to one on the internet, on how to create ACTIONS and what is the best use for them.


hi, I only have a “place” option in my photoshop, not a “place embedded”, how do I fix this?



Yes l have same problem how l can fix it ?


the video is amazing,
i got stuck after i place the street photo on top of my image, because i can’t go to blur without flatten ….
help please


After i place the street photo or a similar photo ,when i choose blur gallery, my options are hidden


What version of your PS? I am using PS CS6, and the field blur is greyed out, i can;t work it out your tutorial, how can i fix it. thanks.

Desislava Sekulova

Great tutorial! I am new to creating bokeh images and I was wondering is there any best way to pick the most appropriate images to create the effect. I tried with simple phone camera images, too, but for some reason the flare circles didn’t come out as nice and clear as in your tutorial. Would you give any advice on how to pick the embeded images?