Deke’s Techniques 076: Miniaturizing the World in Photoshop

This week, I take you on a journey into the world of the small. That is, I show you how to make the world small, as if you—quite by contrast—have become inexplicably and fantastically HUGE. So that you can tromp around your photographs and proclaim maniacally, “I am vast and powerful!” as you crush cars, trains, and buildings with your bare feet. And squish the fleeing citizenry with your fingertips.

Or just pick ‘em up and play with ‘em. Your choice.

Here’s the official description from

This week, Deke’s Techniques will make you feel larger than life—primarily by taking a photo of a regulation-sized city street and making it appear as though it were a miniature rendering of itself, complete with tiny cars and people. As you’ll see in this week’s free movie, Deke starts by applying a plastic effect through the strategic use of smart filters (Reduce Noise, Median, and Smart Sharpen). Then he creates a faux depth-of-field effect with the Lens Blur filter. And, finally, he paints everything with Vibrance and Saturation to really play up the toy effect. The result is that the standard street scene you see here…

Normal street scene from the Fotolia image library

...turns into this delightful toy town:

A tiny town rendered in Photoshop

I was so enchanted with this transformative yet relatively easy-to-apply technique that I decided to see what it looked like on a photo of one of my favorite cities. (Unable, or possibly just too lazy, to search through my own travel photos of Venice, I downloaded this loaner from sara66 of the Fotolia image library.)

A photo of Venice, from the Fotolia image library

And with Deke’s technique (which I’ve now affectionately nicknamed, “The Shrink Ray”) I was able to create this Pocket Venice, complete with authentic looking plastic water and tiny gondolier.

A pocket-size Venice created in Photoshop

It’s not everyday that one gets to be a giant in their own mind. (And in Venice, no less!) Meanwhile, needless to say, the regular-sized Deke will be back with more delights next week.

I love it when my techniques actually work! Just look at that water. If only Ray Harryhausen were still alive, he’d be so jealous!

Next entry:“Photoshop Masking & Compositing: Fundamentals” Goes Live Today

Previous entry:Yeah, But Will It Print?


  • thanks..

    nice tutorial, i like that effects and i’ll try it now..

    thank u so much..

Share your feedback, work, homages, questions, wisecracks, advice, critiques, riffs, derision (within reason), frustrations, and love of all things graphical. Log in (or register) to lend your voice.