1 Select your shots
With your portrait open in Photoshop, make any basic adjustments you need to do before adding the bokeh as a finishing touch. Once ready, open your first bokeh image. Here I’ve chosen a night scene so the image already has great colour, contrast and light. To blur the image, select Filter>Blur>Field Blur.
2 Use Field Blur
Start by adjusting the Field Blur’s Blur slider until the image is unrecognisable and a smooth blur of colour but with some visible definition. You can also try moving the dial in the centre of the image, as opposed to the slider, if you prefer. However, don’t click elsewhere on the image or you’ll create multiple blur spots.
3 Adjust the Effects
Under the Effects tab, move the Light Bokeh slider to the right until you start to see round bokeh spots appear. Don’t push it too far so the spots turn overly bright and white. Move the Bokeh Color slider to increase their vibrance and adjust the Light Range until you find a good tonal contrast. Click OK.
4 Copy to your portrait
Go to Select>All, then Edit>Copy and click back onto your portrait image. Click Edit>Paste to apply the bokeh layer on top. Use the Move Tool and Shift key to resize and position the bokeh layer over the subject. In the Layers palette, select the Blend Mode dropdown menu and select Screen to reveal only the bright bokeh.
5 Edit the bokeh
Use the Move Tool to drag the bokeh where you want it to sit on your subject. Add a Layer Mask and use the Brush Tool with black paint to remove any unwanted bokeh effect from the subject’s face and any straight lines from where the edge of the layers overlap. Reduce the layer’s Opacity too, if needed.
6 Rinse and repeat
For every new bokeh image you want to add, repeat steps 1-5. Sometimes you may find using Levels to darken areas around the highlights helps to separate the bokeh before blending it with the portrait. Remember to resize the bokeh too; the bokeh should be larger in the foreground than it is in the background.