.dream tutorial.

This is a relatively simple technique that can give some images a very surreal look to it. Some people call it the montage effect, others a dream effect. First things first, work on a copy of your original. Wouldn’t want to make a mistake that you cant go back on right? Ok, open up the copy of the photo you want to apply this effect to. I’ll be using this photo of a frog that I took a while back.
You will have in you layers box a layer called “background”. Go to your layer menu up top, and select “Duplicate Layer” and name it “Bright layer”. Press ok. Now the key to this technique is to work with over-exposed images. Since most likely you aren’t working with one thats already over-exposed, we have to simulate it ourselves. There are different ways to approach this, but I tend to stick with using the “Brightness/Contrast” adjustment in your Image > Adjustments menu. Make sure you’re “Bright layer” is selected before you open up the Brightness/Contrast box. The image is suppose to be about 1 1/2 to 2 stops over-exposed, but sometimes it is just guess work on what the best brightness for the image will be. I ended up going with a brightness of +74 as seen below.
Now what you have to do is duplicate your “Bright layer” just like we did with the background layer in the beginning, and name the new layer “gaussian blur layer” making sure that this layer is positioned on top of the others. Then change the blending mode to multiply while the new layer is selected as seen below.


While the top layer is selected, go to your filters menu > Blur > Gaussian Blur and a box should open.
Make sure the preview box is checked and move around the slider bar until you achieve the effect that you like the best.
Please note: I left the image with minimal effect applied, the more u use the gaussian blur, the more dreamy it becomes. With the effect minimal, the colors will be more saturated without a dreamy feel.
As i stated above, it may take some experimentation when over-exposing the image so that the final image’s levels are balanced. You can always try to fix the levels of the final image if it looks off to you, the simplest method being the Auto Levels found in Image > Adjustments menu.

Got comments? Leave a comment below. Tell me if you enjoyed this tutorial or if it was helpful. Comments keep me writing. Thanks.


4 responses

18 04 2006


I’m gonna dig up a few archives and give this go.

A pretty good introductory tutorial.


27 04 2006

I guess I just don’t quite understand how it looks like a dream, however it is a very interesting effect. I like it. but, is there an image of the finished product? I don’t know if there is one and I’m just not seeing it or not. But the way you wrote it is great. “instructive”

27 04 2006
.i dream in red.

thanks bt. the final image has a minimal effect applied. I should of clarified that. i used a relatively low gaussian blur amount, leading to a slight haze, which is hard to see when the image is compressed to web size, but leaves the colors saturated.

11 06 2006

Nice site. Thank to work…

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