Do you want to learn how to blur in Photoshop?
Blurring is a very natural effect. Even when we see objects around us, the entire scene is not clearly visible. If we focus on a subject far away, the objects near us seem blurred. If we focus on a subject very close, objects that are far away seem blurred.
You can use blurs to highlight subjects and bring the focus to very specific elements in your photograph. It can help you make your subject stand out and greatly improve the quality of your photograph. Although blurs are achievable with the right camera and lens, sometimes you want to further enhance the effect during post-processing. At other times, you only realize that you must add a blur long after the photograph is taken. Understanding how you can blur the various elements in a photograph is a very useful and important skill. This guide will delve into how to blur in Photoshop.
Related: How to Merge Layers in Photoshop
How to Blur in Photoshop Step-by-Step
Step 1: Load/Import an Image to Photoshop
Choose a photo that you want to blur. Import it into Photoshop.
Step 2: Cut Out the Subject
Now you must figure out what part of you photo you want to blur and what you want to stand out. The element that you want to stand out is your subject. You will need to cut out your subject. Choose the Quick Select Tool to do this. Once selected, draw around your subject. It is better to over select and leave a small margin. This allows you to go back and use the Option (Mac) or Alt (Windows) key to fine tune and reduce the margins that are left. Doing it freehand on your first try is tricky. Using Alt or Options keys, however, is much easier.
Step 3: How to Blur in Photoshop Create a Mask
Let’s continue our tutorial on how to blur in Photoshop by learning how to create a mask.
In the top menu bar, choose Select, and then choose Mask. Select the tool to the top left of your screen that looks like a hairbrush. You will now go around the edge of the hair of your subject. Ensure that you pick up some flyaway hair as well. The transparency slider on the right panel will help you find out if there are any areas that you are missing.
Now click on the Show Edge tool present on the top of the right panel. Increase the radius using the slider until you begin to see the edges of the hair. You can now turn off the Show Edge tool, and see that the selection is improved. Then choose the ‘New Layer with Layer Mask’ option and click on OK in the bottom right.
Step 4: Hide the Subject
You can hide the new subject layer by clicking on the eye icon to the left of the layer in the layers panel. Next up, choose the background. Then Cmd or Ctrl click on the hidden layer mask of the subject to load the selection.
Step 5: Expand
We will expand this selection for a better result. Go to Select and then Modify, and then finally, Expand. Put in the appropriate number of pixels to expand by. Something like 5 to 10 pixels should do the trick.
Step 6: Fill the Selection
Now you need to fill this selection with content. Use Shift Delete or Shift Backspace. Now choose Content Aware and click on OK. Then use Ctrl + D to deselect. You will now be able to see the background without the subject. There will be a few bits left here and there, which is fine. Since you are blurring out the background, you don’t need to worry about it being pixel perfect.
Step 7: Blur Background
With our subject out of the way, it becomes easier to blur out the background. Now make the woman layer visible, so we can see our work. Ensure that the background layer is still selected. Then go to Filter, then Filter Gallery, and finally Field Blur. Use your mouse pointer on the small circle represented by a pin to control the blur. In many portrait photos, just 1 pin may be enough. If it is a full-body shot, you need to set more than 1 point to make the blur look natural, since different parts of their game will have different levels of blur.
Once the points are placed, you can use the circle on the point or the slider to adjust the blur. When you are satisfied with the blue, click on OK to apply the effect. You have successfully blurred the image!
Well done on learning how to blur in Photoshop.
Next time you realize a blurred effect would look better on a photograph, just follow these steps for great results!
Stefano Caioni is a photographer from Sydney, Australia. Founder and editor of Pixinfocus, his passion for photography helps him explore new places and live new adventures. Thanks to photography he reconnected with the outdoors and was able to travel the world and take photos of some of the most beautiful places on Earth.