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TiltShift Photography Tutorial

Author: Carl Heaton
He is our senior instructor and originally from Manchester UK. Carl teaches our Web Design and Online Marketing Courses.
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This tutorial is really simple and takes just few minutes to get really good results, depending on the source picture of course. I will show you how to apply a tilt effect on a photo using TIltShift, a little Air application that works really really well in my opinion.

Today i went out to buy some Khao Pad Gai (fried rice with chicken) for lunch not far from where i live here in Sukhumvit (Bangkok).

As soon as i reached the bridge to cross from my sidewalk to the other side, i saw this long cue of coloured taxies and cars. And i couldn’t walk away

without taking a picture of the scene…

When i posted it on my Facebook my friend Alexander commented it sayin’ that wasn’t sure if was just a perspective-game but the cars looked like mini models that kids use to collect or play with. So i thought “Hmmm…why don’t enhance it even more?”.

And that’s how i came up with this tutorial, where i didn’t use Photoshop, Lightroom or Gimp or what else…BUT…a little toy that i’ve reviewed here on my very 1st post… TILTSHIFT, a nice little Adobe Air tool to tweak the photos and make them stand-out (and look like you were lookin’ at them with a magnifing glass so to speak).


It’s time to give it a try!

For this tutorial, we will use the original photo that i took today and i’ll guide you step by step to achieve the same results i got.

It’s easy don’t worry.

First of all let’s look at the original photo and let me ask you….where your eyes ended up as soon as you seen the pic on the screen? I guess on the yellow taxi in the middle, just in front of your eyes….

What if we try to make it stand-out and give it a nice toy-ish, plastic feeling?

Be sure that you have the latest Adobe Air library installed. If not, go there and install it.

Once installed, it’s time to move on and download our little new friend, TiltShift, from the main website.

There’s an online version available, but i assume you want to download it and install it to have it handy on your harddrive.

But it’s up to you, really.

Ready then? 🙂


1. Load the original file

First of all, load the original.jpg file that you can download HERE.

I’ve already reduced as size it so it doesn’t take too much cpu when processed…


2. Linear Blur

Set the type of blur to LINEAR in this case (RADIAL gives you a nice effect but personally the LINEAR one has much more control and can give you impressive results if used wisely). Once done click exactly in the middle of the front windscreen, as u see in the photo.


3. Center Radius

Drag the CENTER RADIUS slider to the value of 50. That’s from where all the “action” will start.


4. Strenght

Set the STRENGHT to 20. This will control the “aggressivity” of the effect we will apply on our sample photo. I’m sure you can notice already some changes but wait to reach step 8 for the big leap forward…


5. Saturation

Next step, SATURATION. This parameter controls how “vivid” we want the colours. The cars don’t have to look like neonlights, but also not colorless of course. Let’s set it to the value of 19, that’s enough to give that plastic toy feeling to the cars.


6. Contrast

Now the CONTRAST. Keep in mind that isn’t just bout’ how the yellow taxi will look in the end, but also the environment plays an important role, in this particular case i’m talkin’ bout’ the road. We have to make look the asphalt as if was made of plastic, a bit shiny, smooth…in short…pure Lego feeling if u get what i mean. So let’s set the contrast to 31. This will do the job. Even better lookin’, right? Two more steps to go!


7. Brightness

BRIGHTNESS: same as above, not too much but not too dark either. Set the value to -14, just a little less than the default value. Will give that sort of dramatic, dark touch to the photo.


8. Vignetting

And last step, VIGNETTING: this is the cherry on the cake that can dramatically improve the final result. Slowly drag the slider up to 0.70 and look how the photo radically changes


9. Export the photo

Now set the JPG quality to 85-100 and export your creation and compare it with the original….what a change eh? You get an even better result if you scale the photo a bit more, so that if fits the screen and you will be able to spot all the details and also be proud of yourself for all the “efforts” you put into it to make it look special 🙂


Well, that’s it…that was an easy one. Feel free to experiment with TiltShift 🙂

Seeya soon with another mini-tutorial and….If you want to learn more about graphic design and how to take beautiful pictures with your own camera and edit them, check out our Beginner’s Digital Photography Class!


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