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How to Create the Dreamy Soft Focus Orton Effect in Paint.NET

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Create the Dreamy Soft Focus Orton Effect in Paint.NET
Create the Dreamy Soft Focus Orton Effect in Paint.NET
Text and Images © Ian Pullen
I'm going to show you how you can produce a dreamy soft focus Orton effect using the free image editor Paint.NET. This is a pretty simple technique and even new users of Paint.NET should have no trouble following along and producing an attractive resulting image.

If you're not familiar with the Orton technique, traditionally it was a darkroom process in which two different exposures of the same scene were sandwiched together to produce a blended image that would be in soft focus and a little surreal.

In the digital age, we can use the Layers palette in an image editor like Paint.NET to 'sandwich' multiple versions of the same scene to create our own dreamy soft focus photos.

In reaching the final result, you'll be introduced to working with layers in Paint.NET and how to use Blending Modes to combine the layers in different ways. We'll also take a look at the Gaussian Blur filter that can be used to soften images and add some visual interest.

To follow this tutorial, you'll need a copy of Paint.NET which is a free image editor for use on Windows computers. You can find out more about the software in my overview of Paint.NET, which also includes a link to the download site. You can use one of your own digital photos to follow this tutorial, but if you haven't got one handy, please feel free to download a copy of the image that I used for this tutorial: IP_bike_2000.jpg

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