Creating a cool Bokeh Effect In Pixelmator

I haven’t written many articles about Pixelmator yet but for those of you looking for a really well build photo editing app for a fraction of Photoshop Pixelmator is awesome. It’s Mac only so sorry PC guys and gals but is a great alternative to Photoshop for anyone not ready to plunk down the cost for CS6. The performance of the app is great and you can do some pretty advanced things as well. Check out this video showing their content aware fill in action.

Today though I want to walk through a quick tutorial on how to create a cool bokeh effect in Pixelmator that you can use for a background.

1) Create a blank canvas. I’ll start with a blank black canvas set to 2560 x 1600 @ 72ppi. By default when you create a new file the background will be white so click the keyboard shortcut N to grab the paint bucket tool and then choose black to fill the canvas with black.

2) Create a brand new layer and then go open up the Effects Browser, go to the Other section and select Defocus. This will fill the canvas up with many different sized circles. You can adjust the size, color, blur and density. Here I set the size to .50 and the blur to .25 to give a set of very blurred circles. I left the colors the default which is a mid grey color as the primary and black as the secondary.

3) Duplicate this layer and set the blending option for the layer to color dodge.

4) Now create another layer and click on Defocus again. This time though set the primary color to white and a smaller size, i’ll use .20 for the example and .02 for the blur. Set the blending for this layer to be screen.

5) We will do one more layer of circles with a different size. Create a new layer and then click the defocus filter again. For this layer I kept the primary color white, changed the size to .40 and the blur to .05. I also set the blending option of this layer to screen.

6) To add some depth to the image duplicate this layer and in the new duplicated layer set the blending option to Color Dodge.

7) Finally duplicate the smallest size layer and move it to the very top of your layers. Set the blending option also to color dodge.

8) Now it’s time to add some color. Add a new layer at the top and select the Gradient tool (keyboard shortcut G). Click on the color on the top left of the window to open up the gradients toolbar and select the rainbow. Fill the layer with this rainbow pattern.

9) Change the blending option of this layer to overlay and Viola! A very cool bokeh pattern!

The fun part is every time you run the defocus filter the placement of the circles will be random so you always get some something unique. If you don’t have the app yet you can get it in the App Store here:

Pixelmator - Pixelmator Team

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Author: Mark

Mark is a fine art wedding and portrait photographer from Northern California. He has been passionate about photography since childhood and started his studio 12 years ago to bring a fresh style of photography to the wedding and portrait world.

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