September 19, 2010


How to Fake a Tilt-Shift Miniature Photograph in GIMP

Tilt-Shift Photography is a great technique to experiment with and if you don’t want to spend your money on a new lens then it is possible to replicate the effect, and in this tutorial I’ll show you how to achieve this effect!

Fake Tilt-Shift Miniature in GIMP

Fake Tilt-Shift Miniature in GIMP

1. Choosing the Photo!

  • The first and hardest step is selecting the right photograph to use with this technique, the optimum photo is one that was shot high up above the subject and a substantial distance away, otherwise the effect of it being miniature cannot be emphasised well.
  • I’ve chosen this one from Amboise, France – photographed high up above the streets from the Chateau:
Choosing the right Photograph!

Choosing the right Photograph!

2. Duplicate + Focus Blur

  • Duplicate the ‘Background‘ layer:
  • Blur the copied layer ‘Background Copy‘ go, Filters –> Blur –> Focus Blur:
  • Change the ‘Diffusion Model and Radius’ setting to ~10.00, as shown:
  • Note: It may require a small amount of tweaking to get a desired blur.
  • Also, if you do not have Focus Blur you should use Gaussian Blur or download the plugin here!
Duplicate Background + Focus Blur

Duplicate Background + Focus Blur

3. Add Layer Mask + Rectangle Select

  • Add a New Layer Mask, *Right Click* > Add Layer Mask, (on ‘Background Copy’):
  • Select White (simple hit enter):
  • Using the Rectangle Select Tool select the area of focus, with settings: Feather Edges Radius: 100:
Add Layer Mask + Rectangle Select Tool

Add Layer Mask + Rectangle Select Tool

  • Fill selection with the Paint Bucket: Black, or go Colors –> Invert:
Paint Bucket Tool: Black

Paint Bucket Tool: Black

4. Refining the Blurring (Optional)


  • You might like to further refine the edges of the blurring, by grabbing the Paint Brush: White, Circle Fuzzy
  • On the Layer Mask touch up the areas that are of non-interest:
Refining the Blurring

Refining the Blurring

6. Saturate for a ‘Plastic’ look of a Model

  • Firstly, apply the Layer Mask, *Right Click* > Apply Layer Mask, and *Right Click* > Merge Visible Layers:
  • Go, Colors –> Hue/Saturation: Increase saturation until happy with the look!
Saturate for a 'Plastic' Look!

Saturate for a 'Plastic' Look!

That’s It! Here is the Before/After:

Before/After Tilt-Shift Miniature Effect

Before/After Tilt-Shift Miniature Effect

You might like to try the selective focus in a vertical orientation:

Vertical Selective Focus

Vertical Selective Focus

If you get stuck anywhere just comment below!

For inspiration please checkout these photographs!

Tilt-Shift | Inspiration

Tilt-Shift | Inspiration

Tilt-Shift Photography

You can find a video here from Charlie Harvey:

If you’d like to use these photographs please Contact Me!

Please comment below if you have any questions and I’ll answer them ASAP!

All images on this site are copyrighted© – All Rights Reserved.

Written by Mike

Michael Scott is the publisher and photographer behind Scott Photographics! He is very passionate about his photography and enjoys sharing the best of his experiences for others to enjoy too! Contact Mike via email!
Read more from Featured, Gimp, Tutorials
29 Comments Post a comment
  1. LaurenA
    Jan 2 2016

    I’m sorry but these look terrible. Way too much blurring and the effect isn’t that strong.

  2. Apr 7 2015

    Hi, that shouldn’t be happening :O

    Try Colors –> Invert instead, making sure you are on the mask too.

    Hope that works :)

  3. gimpnovice
    Apr 7 2015

    hi. i’m stuck at the 4th step. after you use the selection rectangle you say “Fill selection with the Paint Bucket: Black”. when i choose the bucket tool then the selection is gone.

  4. hanciong
    Aug 2 2012

    hey turns out you have it. Thanx for sharing this :D

  5. hanciong
    Aug 2 2012

    ah here it is, I found it :D. Thanx for sharing this :D

  6. Aug 7 2011

    Very good :) thanks for linking, Charlie!

  7. Aug 7 2011

    Great tutorial Michael! I found it after I made a fake selective focus with GIMP video over at my site, using almost the exact same technique. I could have saved myself the bother. Ah well, I’ve linked to your (much more complete) article anyhow. Cheers.

  8. Cameron
    May 27 2011


    In ubuntu for focus-blur:

    (sudo) aptitude install gimp-plugin-registry

    And start GIMP…



  9. May 22 2011

    They look brilliant Manel – well done, and thanks for sharing!

  10. Manel
    May 20 2011

    I did some pictures and the result is very spectacular for a short process. Thanks for this tutorial.

  11. Mar 8 2011

    Thanks! This was so simple to follow…I loved it!

  12. Dec 22 2010

    Hi Ryne,

    Sorry for the late reply!

    To make a more gradual blur you can use a layer masks with gradients! So you could experiment by:

    1. Duplicate the image
    2. Blur the duplicate layer with which ever, Gaussian Blur or Lens Blur
    3. Then add a Layer Mask
    4. Using the Gradient Tool FG Only: Black, possibly a Radial Gradient
    5. And play around with the different stroke lengths and angles of the Gradient Tool!

    Another way is to make a few different Blurred layers and layer mask them out gradually but that is probably not ideal!

    Also, with that photograph you posted, I think maybe adding some more contrast to the image would make it better, as well as reducing the noise of the photograph Filters –> Blur –> Selective Gaussian Blur!

    If you need some more tips or advice just comment or contact me via email!



  13. Ryne
    Dec 17 2010

    I’m also not a fan of the abrupt blur, as I want to use this more for fairly close face portraits. How would I go about doing the gradual blur that another user mentioned?

    I’m a college student, so a lot of pictures of me are taken with cell phones and I want to know how to make those pictures look like they were taken with an awesome camera, in awesome lighting, with an awesome focused lens.

    This is honestly my first time photo editing, so I have no idea about any of this stuff. The only edit i’ve ever done was creating a black and white/transparent layer, then painting over a girl’s eyes with black to only show her eye color. Tonight I thought i’d try a bit harder stuff, so google brought me here. Hope you can help!

    This is my practice picture just because it was taken a couple of hours ago:

    Any tips?

  14. Dec 5 2010


    For Step 2, you can use Gaussian Blur instead, but the depth and luminosity will not be as similar to a real lens as possible, so I recommend you download the plugin for it here: ! Or maybe upgrade your GIMP as I think mine came pre-installed?!

    For Step 3, I have corrected the 100% to 100, sorry about that!

    If I haven’t answered properly or you have more questions just email me or comment below:)

    Thanks for the kind feedback as well:)


  15. GIMP_newbie
    Dec 5 2010

    Hi Michael,
    Thanks for the write up. I have always wanted to try on hands on tilt-shift, and this tutorial would served as a good guideline, and saves my pocket from being burnt.

    Anyway, got stuck. Appreciate some help. Thanks in advance. :)

    Step 2: – Duplicate + Focus Blur
    :: I cannot find “Focus Blur” in my “Filter”. Thus, I cannot make adjustment to “Diffusion Model and Radius”. Tried using “Filter –> Blur –> Blur”, but does not have the same effect.

    Step 3: – Add Layer Mask + Rectangle Select
    Again, my GIMP version does not allow “feather 100%”. Only 100 pixels. Would there be any way to make it %?

    Any help is appreciated.Thanks.

  16. Sep 22 2010

    Cheers Ken!

  17. Ken_Osha
    Sep 22 2010

    I will find this very usefull. This should give me the uumph I need to train my photo editing techniques. Thank-you!

  18. Sep 21 2010

    Hi TheJoe

    Yes, that is a good way to go, but this would only be of concern if you were working with an image with low depth and you would want to graduate the blur, which for good results you want a proper Tilt-Shift Lens!



  19. Sep 21 2010

    Ummhh.. that’s a nice start but.. it’s not a realistic tilt-shift..

    1_ i’d rather use at least 3 different blur radius (maybe 5 – 3 – 1)
    2_ i’d rather use level masks

  20. Sep 20 2010

    Yeah, that is a good point, however a Tilt-Shift Lens can be used for selective blurring/Depth of Field and perspective correction, and so this effect can be applied for non-miniatures as well!


  21. Sep 20 2010

    About the vertical tilting I think that one of the key aspect is that you don’t have to see the sky, because this way you know wether it’s a true picture or not. So acroding to me for this effect you can only use picture where you see things far and below the photographer.

    Anyway, quite good tutorial

  22. Sep 20 2010

    No worries Mandy! If you have any more suggestions please comment/email!

  23. Mandy M.
    Sep 20 2010

    THANK YOU Michael !!! It looks great ! I’m going to try one later today !
    Mandy M.

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