For this project you need to duplicate the portrait BEFORE you you apply the Gaussian Blur...
The Gaussian Blur
The blur is used to soften the skin. We'll use Menu: Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur.
How much blur? Experiment! Try Radius 6 pixels or more... If you use the Filter > Create Smart filter you can go back and change the radius at any time.
The Layer Mask in Photoshop
You can use masks to hide portions of a layer and reveal portions of the layers below. Layer masks are grayscale bitmap images that are edited with the painting or selection tools. Layer masks are nondestructive, which means you can go back and re-edit the masks later without losing the pixels they hide. In the Layers palette, the layer masks appear as an additional thumbnail to the right of the layer thumbnail. This thumbnail represents the grayscale channel that is created when you add the layer mask.
Creating A Layer Mask
Select the layer by clicking on it, it will turn blue, then click on the "Add Layer Mask" button at the bottom of the layer palette.
PSE does not have layer masks but we can fake a layer mask in Photoshop Elements by borrowing the mask for any adjustment layer, in this case we used "Levels". By grouping the duplicate layer with the previous layer, the Levels Mask, we can borrow and use the levels mask as-if it was a regular layer mask.
When you duplicate the background layer, move it above the Levels adjustment layer and select it. To make the duplicated layer "group" with the adjustment layer use the key board combination Control G (Mac) Command G (PC) or the menu Layer > Group with Previous.
The duplicated layer will move to the right and a little arrow will point down at the adjustment Layer. The PSE layer palette shows how the Photoshop Elements layers pallet work around works.
Now all you have to do is select the mask and paint with shades of gray to black to allow the effects in the blurred layer below to show through.
Two web sites offer Photoshop’s way of doing things by unlocking Hidden Features in Photoshop Elements. They both offer a free demo-download that unlocks a few of the PSE's hidden features. The free demo from each company offers The Layer Mask!
the elementsplus site’s download is the easiest to download and install make sure you choose the download for the version of Photoshop Elements that you have…
If you have any questions… ‘
If not Practice, practice, practice