VinnyPrime's blog

Tutorial: Creating Dreamy Photos

posted by VinnyPrime, Jan 21, 2007 9:24 AM — 132 comments

In this tutorial, I'll show you, in simple, easy steps, one of my favorite techniques- one that I think looks incredible on almost any photo.

The first two thirds or so of this tutorial are derived from a technique that I learned by reading a tutorial by ugaldew. Be sure to check out his tutorials!

Please note that this tutorial is designed for use with Photoshop CS2. While it may be possible to create a comparable effect in other programs... I would have no idea how to do so. :-P

Ok, so we'll start with this photo, which you can download at a higher resolution by clicking here:

Let's get started!

Step 1. Open the photo in Photoshop. Simple! :-)


Step 2. Duplicate the layer by right clicking the words "Background" in the Layers Palette and clicking, "Duplicate Layer..." Then click "Ok" when the next dialog box appears.

Step 3. Click the little black and white circle at the bottom of the Layers Palette. A box will pop up. Click on "Channel Mixer." This adds an adjustment layer to your copied layer, which will allow you to change some settings on it.

Step 4. In the box that popped up, click on the check box that says "Monochrome." The other settings will vary, but generally you will want to turn the Green up, and the Blue and Constant down. You can see the settings I used here:

Your photo should now look something close to this:

Step 5. Right click the adjustment layer in the Layers Palette, then select "Merge Down." This will apply the adjustments that we made on the adjustments layer to the copy of the background image that we created earlier, making a single layer.

Step 6. Right click the newly-created layer, which is called "Background Copy," if you didn't rename, in the Layers Pallete. Then, select "Duplicate Layer..." Finally, click "OK" on the dialogue box that will appear.

Step 7. Now, we are going to make this layer very blurry. Go to Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur... and click.

Step 8. Now, use the "Radius" setting on the dialogue box that appears to make the picture undesirably blurry, then click "OK." The picture should be a little bit "too" blurry, but not unrecognizable. Here's the setting I used:

Step 9. Now, we want to make it so that the blurry layer is somewhat transparent, so that it adds a dreamy feel to the rest of our photo. In the Layer Pallete, select the blurry layer, probably named "Background Copy 2" if you didn't change its name, and then click "Opacity." A slider will appear; the effect works best with this setting set between 30% and 60%, but every photo is different. Here's what I used:

Your photo should now look something close to this:

Notice the dreamy texture that is now present (the difference is a good deal more noticable at larger sizes. Sorry).

At this point you have a very nice photo, that simulates the effects of infrared photography. However, we want to have a dreamy, color photo. So let's continue.

Step 10. Now, we want the color to show through. To do this, we have to make our "Background Copy" layer invisible, which is done by clicking the eyeball next to its name in the Layer Pallete.

Congratulations, you're done!

Your photo should now look something like this:

This effect looks spectacular on every photo that I've applied it to. Here are some other examples!

Thanks for reading my tutorial; I hope you learned a new technique!

Let me know what you think- all comments, positive and negative, are truly appreciated.

(-: Vince Petaccio :-)

Comments | RSS

1. posted by boymc_it, Oct 23, 2009 10:45 AM

good Tutorial

2. posted by dianazuru, Aug 6, 2012 1:07 PM

Nice effect!

3. posted by weirdvis, Jan 21, 2007 10:55 AM

Another good basic Photoshop tutorial. More in-depth information on layers and an introduction to the channels palette.

Very useful and easy to follow information for beginners. Keep up the stirling work. :0)

4. posted by a_kartha, Jan 21, 2007 11:00 AM

Haha, very interesting! Nicely written too!

5. posted by NobbyNobbs, Jan 22, 2007 7:34 PM

At the end of step 9, the image looks a lot like a Source engine PC game with Bloom and HDR lighting turned up... very nice, I'll be using this.

6. posted by nlolv, Jan 22, 2007 9:37 PM

Really good!

7. posted by gbrutus, Jan 23, 2007 12:20 AM

i will be using this on my pictures.

8. posted by the_hun, Jan 23, 2007 9:51 PM

This is terrific, thanks a million, dude!
Very useful tutorial.

9. posted by omar_franc, Jan 24, 2007 5:56 PM

what? begginers? this is a masterpieces, easly featured in the tutorial section of the next SXC newsletter, congrats! you have more than a 10!

10. posted by Kage89, Jan 26, 2007 5:13 AM

Not a bad outcome, thanks.

11. posted by nobugs, Jan 27, 2007 1:29 AM

Great tutorial--I'll be using it soon.

Just one suggestion: instead of merging the adjustment layer down then blurring the result, I put both layers in a group, then adjust the opacity of the group, which lets me the colors later on.

12. posted by legion666, Jan 28, 2007 8:40 AM

man dat was awesome n helpful.....thnx!!!

13. posted by kiweed, Jan 28, 2007 4:32 PM

wow, wonderful effect, i like it, thanks!

14. posted by Aeterno777, Jan 31, 2007 10:23 PM

So great... :)

15. posted by brondonn, Feb 1, 2007 5:34 AM

Very nice indeed. Thanks...will be using this as well

16. posted by pablo12345, Feb 2, 2007 3:54 PM

wow, really very good your tut.
thanks a lot

17. posted by jessicaah, Feb 3, 2007 5:04 PM

awesome tut.
love it :D

18. posted by Ratsters, Feb 4, 2007 4:01 PM

So simple, yet awesome result!!!
Thanks for sharing :-)

19. posted by lodhi022, Feb 11, 2007 7:41 PM

It is realley an intersting blog.

20. posted by robertkur, Feb 14, 2007 12:41 PM

not bad.....

21. posted by VinnyPrime, Feb 17, 2007 11:18 PM

Sorry about the photobucket bandwidth problem... I'll fix it here real soon.

22. posted by yoake_fk, Feb 25, 2008 1:35 PM

hey thanks for the tutorial

23. posted by ddaogie, Feb 19, 2007 1:25 PM

thank you! very simple, ideal dreamy effect!

24. posted by ilia000, Feb 20, 2007 9:21 AM

Thanks! Nice and easy :-)

25. posted by rogerzamak, Feb 26, 2007 7:02 PM

Just I want to say EXCELLENT

26. posted by Rinker, Feb 27, 2007 9:58 PM

Good tutorial. Another way of getting a similar effect is:

1. Duplicate background layer.
2. Apply Gaussian Blur to the duplicate background layer.
3. Set duplicate background layer to overlay.
4. The colors will be SUPER saturated, so use a "Brightness/Contrast" adjustment layer for the "Duplicate Background layer" and move the "Contrast" slider down. You can also turn the layer opacity down to about 70% or so. Use your best judgement.

This helps hide imperfections in the photo, softens it, and makes it a brighter photograph altogether.

27. posted by Bilozz, Mar 8, 2007 3:31 PM

Awesome nice effect!!

28. posted by smrita, Mar 9, 2007 5:38 PM

hi my name is smrita jain from india. i happen to surf the web site and came across this tutorial. It is so good. I tired on many snaps. its fun and works very well too. But you are right that , on a larger picture, if some one looks at the blurry image the first instance might be that the picture is out of focus probably because of camera shake especailly for landscapes. But still, thank you very much for sharing. :-)

29. posted by klimentua, Mar 13, 2007 10:22 AM


30. posted by darius9000, Mar 13, 2007 9:16 PM

thank you for sharing this! i was wondering how did they do that with photos!!!

10/10 for you bud!

31. posted by coldfreeze, Mar 15, 2007 10:07 AM

This is amazing! I always wandered how they did the dreamy effect, I thought you had to learn some new camera skill or something, I didn't know you could get a similar effect using photoshop. The best part, its only ten steps! Anyone can do this. Good work man!

32. posted by selba, Mar 16, 2007 4:29 PM

What an awesome tutorial!!!
Thanks for sharing. It always fun to learn new things especially using photoshop. Hope to see more tutorial in here.

33. posted by quirolant, Mar 16, 2007 8:51 PM

Thanks, good tutorial!

34. posted by coldy, Mar 19, 2007 5:52 AM

That's fine! Thanks for sharing this

35. posted by ikasneci, Mar 19, 2007 4:53 PM

Great work, thanks for sharing it.

36. posted by Kamoy, Mar 20, 2007 2:53 AM

Great tut!

37. posted by crpassos, Mar 20, 2007 1:56 PM

Muito bom esse tutorial, é gratificante encontrar-mos disponíveis esses truques para nós que não temos total domínio do Photoshop.
Obrigado e Congratulations!

38. posted by slafko, Mar 21, 2007 9:06 AM

ti helps me a lot. thanks

39. posted by LilGoldWmn, Mar 29, 2007 12:17 AM

WOW this is the first tut ive been able to make it through. I use PSP not PS and its like the whole rest of the world uses PS and most the time its impossible to translate a PStut to a PSPtut but this one was easy and I love the results. Thank you so much!!


40. posted by lad6363, Mar 29, 2007 6:06 AM

Thanks for the help. I'm taking Photoshop in college online and this tutorial was very easy to follow!

41. posted by scottsnyde, Mar 29, 2007 11:49 PM

Sweet... i'm gonna do it. Thanks man.

Scott 10+

42. posted by mxa, Apr 2, 2007 1:26 PM

Great, Thanks!!

43. posted by CalCent, Apr 3, 2007 12:22 AM

Thank you,it is a good learning!

44. posted by turbolium, Apr 4, 2007 7:38 AM

Wow, easy and beautiful


45. posted by lashkoalex, Apr 9, 2007 12:36 AM

You rock!! Easy to follow and great results.

46. posted by ankamusti, Apr 9, 2007 12:10 PM

cool,very helpful

47. posted by bullfrog24, Apr 11, 2007 4:39 AM

ive been trying to figure out how to get a picture to look like this for a while. thank you!!!

48. posted by Lathander, Apr 16, 2007 12:04 PM

This is one of the greatest tutorials ever, I use this all the time, thanks ;)

49. posted by manuelzila, Apr 16, 2007 12:48 PM

Superb! Thanks a lot.

50. posted by lilkid, Apr 18, 2007 1:37 AM

This is really amazing! i love the effect!

51. posted by chrix525, Apr 20, 2007 12:28 AM

simple but BADASS!

52. posted by remixgfx, Apr 22, 2007 12:55 AM

Is it neccesary to duplicate the layer before you blur it, since you end up hiding the layer anyways?

53. posted by VinnyPrime, Apr 22, 2007 1:37 AM

That just maintains the integrity of all layers, to insure that you can always backtrack if the changes you make aren't quite what you were going for.

54. posted by mikemehl, Apr 24, 2007 4:15 AM

Nice. Great, simple steps you laid out

55. posted by tacreklam, Apr 28, 2007 8:48 AM


56. posted by Emik3, Apr 29, 2007 1:21 AM

??????? ?? ???????? ????!

57. posted by annoxero, Apr 30, 2007 1:52 PM

Awesome end result. thumbs up

58. posted by dastudent, May 2, 2007 5:40 AM

very useful :-)

59. posted by mafdet, May 27, 2007 6:19 PM

Brilliant tutorial, this is going to be very useful to me. I can't thank you enough for this. :)

60. posted by stephychew, Jun 17, 2007 4:46 AM

thanks so much~

61. posted by streetluv, Jun 19, 2007 2:23 AM

this is a subtle but stunning effect... i likes ;-)

62. posted by elbandito, Jun 21, 2007 4:16 AM

Incredible! Not only simple to do but also explaining why. :)

63. posted by lty, Jun 25, 2007 11:32 AM

Wow, thank you so very much for this wonderful tutorial. I'm so very grateful!

64. posted by cordelina, Jun 28, 2007 9:35 PM

really good! i love it!=)

65. posted by orange_, Jul 12, 2007 7:28 AM

Awesome effect! Thank you SO MUCH!

66. posted by IndyKet, Jul 14, 2007 8:29 AM

Thanks large nosed dude, this is awesome, love learning new techniques. I love all your pictures, too, you go boy! Go out there and take more kick ass pictures!

67. posted by JasonBroom, Jul 30, 2007 1:06 PM

A nice simple technique, i like it a lot and will be using it for work, thanks very much.

68. posted by xchildx, Aug 16, 2007 2:01 PM

simply amazing...

69. posted by ErwinTV, Aug 18, 2007 11:41 PM

thanks, it's brilliant!

70. posted by fadaguiga, Sep 5, 2007 1:17 AM

Nice effects! I'm gonna try now!

71. posted by Kaelyn88, Sep 10, 2007 4:25 PM

I was surfing and accidentally found this

72. posted by jinfan01, Sep 15, 2007 11:11 AM


73. posted by jinfan01, Sep 15, 2007 11:11 AM


74. posted by sxchuman, Sep 20, 2007 2:05 PM

Nice. Great, simple steps you laid out

75. posted by Emarline, Sep 26, 2007 12:39 AM

Very good. =] I'll be using this in the foreseeable future.

76. posted by mmmm1324, Sep 26, 2007 1:51 PM

wow! I can't wait to try this!

77. posted by winklerke, Oct 4, 2007 10:37 AM

Thanks for the tutorial, and let me complete with one extra-tip:

you should adjust the gaussian blur in function of the size of the picture. As bigger is the picture as bigger should be the gaussian blur. But ff course, as vinny said at #23: use your best judgement to get the result you are looking for...

78. posted by VinnyPrime, Oct 10, 2007 7:34 AM

Yes, thank you for this additional comment!

79. posted by thinQ, Apr 28, 2008 10:42 PM

it's amazing, so simple but yet such a dream effect i love it :)

80. posted by justfakeit, Oct 23, 2007 1:39 AM

Beautiful Result.


81. posted by priyankesh, Oct 28, 2007 4:50 AM

THanks from the bottom of my HEART !!!
i got smoe idea how to take stock images !!

82. posted by abc123123, Jan 15, 2010 1:24 AM

yep..., it's easy but cool enough... i learn new technique indeed. tenks.

83. posted by raflowers, Nov 11, 2007 2:28 AM

This is really cool!! Thanks for sharing.

84. posted by jessada, Nov 22, 2007 4:33 PM

This is another way I learn to make a photo become a BW photo. Nice isn't it?

85. posted by enajrich, Nov 25, 2007 2:50 AM

definitely spiced up a lot of my vacation pictures into wall worthy arts :)

86. posted by geeemen, Nov 28, 2007 5:14 AM

interesting tech.very useful,thanks.

87. posted by irshi, Dec 24, 2007 5:50 PM

thanks for the technique...

88. posted by theronb, Dec 25, 2007 10:20 PM

Great tutorial, very clear - thanks! One more suggestion: try other layer blend modes for subtle differences in the effect.

89. posted by Morcin, Dec 26, 2007 4:32 PM

Yeah, it is a good effect :) Thanks

90. posted by Rissa440, Jan 3, 2008 2:47 AM

this sounds like a great tute but im stuck when it gets up to step 5, when i right click there is no 'merge down' button to click

please help!
i really want to know how to do this!

91. posted by KellyG18, Jan 5, 2008 12:11 AM

this is great! thanks for sharing

92. posted by axelhoney8, Mar 9, 2008 12:41 AM

I liked this tutorial. I'm a graphic design student, so i'm always looking for new techniques. Thank you.
(psst...just drag your layer to the "new layer" button to duplicate, much quicker!)

93. posted by col2, Mar 17, 2008 9:54 PM

Thanks for a great tutorial!

94. posted by vijumk, Mar 25, 2008 1:43 PM

hey its great ! thanks for sharing.

95. posted by Hycer, Mar 27, 2008 6:16 PM

Very nice tutorial, I did it and I like the effect =)


96. posted by nadjis, Apr 2, 2008 11:07 AM

very useful...


97. posted by LDArtist, Apr 5, 2008 7:04 PM

Fantastic! Love it!

98. posted by mashgiggs, Apr 11, 2008 9:50 AM

It's fantastic and I love it very simple, this is a real dream effects

99. posted by leroy_2008, May 4, 2008 8:55 PM

thanks again,this really really work for me,turn my not so good photos into something likeable..........thanks

keep um coming

100. posted by ashishkr, May 20, 2008 8:13 AM

wow, absolutely superb effect... thanks for sharing

101. posted by mig10k, May 21, 2008 12:07 PM

Thank you for this nice tutorial. It's great!

102. posted by dipkya, May 27, 2008 12:37 PM

Thats too good effect!!

103. posted by istillis, May 28, 2008 10:55 PM

A very nice technique! Thank you!

104. posted by surfchik, Jun 11, 2008 9:00 PM

NICE! thanks for that. Makes an otherwise boring image look interesting.

105. posted by EmilieRagn, Aug 10, 2008 2:33 PM

Great results in an easy way! Thumbs up!

106. posted by Miles67, Aug 24, 2008 6:22 AM

That is SOOO cool, thank you

107. posted by meyen, Sep 10, 2008 12:35 AM

really enjoyed this tutorial .. very easy to follow and the photos looks sooo beautiful

108. posted by Cliffordy, Oct 11, 2008 3:53 PM

Amazing tutorial, and extremely easy to follow with. Thanks for the tutorial! (:

109. posted by ebgrisi, Oct 18, 2008 5:55 PM

That was really good! thank you!

110. posted by jilly09, Nov 6, 2008 4:14 PM

thankksss! awesome tutorial :))

111. posted by pumpairboy, Nov 14, 2008 10:29 AM

its simple yet great!

112. posted by Ancientart, Jan 8, 2009 2:42 AM

Nice! awesome effect

113. posted by chrisjat, Jan 8, 2009 2:56 AM

yep..., it's easy but cool enough... i learn new technique indeed. tenks.

114. posted by faraz_gd, Feb 14, 2009 3:15 PM

thnx buddy its really cool effect..

115. posted by EkizUtka, May 2, 2009 10:40 PM

Really Good tutorial

116. posted by seditiosus, Sep 2, 2009 11:19 PM

Images fail.

117. posted by escan, Aug 18, 2010 8:58 AM

I liked this tutorial.

118. posted by shahra, Jul 10, 2009 5:01 PM

hey! it's a great tutorial, I love it, really!
Thank you so much friend ! :)

119. posted by icekiller, Jul 20, 2009 4:09 AM

wow nice tut congrats

120. posted by teploshop, Aug 26, 2010 4:18 PM

exelent work, good technique

[]?????? ????[/url]

121. posted by durrancea, Nov 26, 2010 6:11 PM

Very cool simple way of applying this effect
very well written and explained

122. posted by olalyd, Jul 21, 2011 11:53 AM

Good teacher.

123. posted by disenoweb9, Feb 22, 2013 7:41 AM

Great job!

124. posted by lv4hm2, Mar 7, 2013 1:16 PM

Loved it!!! Thank you!!!!

125. posted by dado2013, May 2, 2013 7:11 AM

amazing tutorial!!! thank you

126. posted by trainer2, May 31, 2013 8:59 AM

That was easy solution, thanx

127. posted by piabpn953, Jun 21, 2013 2:09 AM

good Tutorial

128. posted by piabpn953, Jun 21, 2013 2:18 AM

This is really cool!! Thanks for sharing.

129. posted by carlislekm, Jul 29, 2013 4:29 AM

Very interesting

130. posted by korinci, Aug 24, 2013 12:02 AM

Really good!

131. posted by shannahqxh, Aug 24, 2013 6:40 AM

very nice

132. posted by inizjall, Nov 6, 2013 3:09 AM

Nice work

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