How to Blur a Picture

January 01

18 min. to read

Picture blur is useful option for creating unique and creative look on your picture.

There are many reasons why you might want to learn how to blur in Photoshop. Whether you’re working with creative portraits, trying to add motion to your model, or emphasizing the subject to make it stand out from the background, a blur effect can help.

Photoshop is the go-to program to transform your photos. Want to know how to blur an image in Photoshop? How to blur a background in Photoshop? You’ll find out in this article.

Another program that can help you is Luminar by Skylum. Luminar has some excellent filters that help you easily achieve a blur effect in your images. By combining them with layers, you’ll have complete control over blurring various elements of your photos during the editing process, delivering results that amaze. Try Luminar now for free and see the effect for yourself.

How to blur an image in Photoshop

Photoshop is the leading software in the design industry. One reason why is its arsenal of tools that can help you create breathtaking effects. Adding blur to a whole image can enhance the mood of a romantic landscape, bring a sense of motion, or create a pretty bokeh effect.

When you click on the Filter tab in the top panel in Photoshop, among the many options you’ll see Blur and Blur Gallery. Selecting either will reveal many types of blur effects. Each blur tool provides intuitive on-image controls to adjust the blur effect. Photoshop provides a full-size live preview when working with blur effects. You can easily experiment with each blur tool Photoshop provides. 

Here’s the easiest way to blur your whole image in Photoshop:

1. Open your image.

2. Select the Rectangular Marquee tool, which is located near the top of the toolbar. 

3. Drag it to cover all of your photo. A marching line will appear around your photo. 

4. Go to the top of your screen and select Filter > Filter > Blur Gallery and choose the blur mode you like.

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5. If you’re satisfied, save the blurred picture.

Don’t like the result? It’s easy to undo it using Photoshop’s undo button. Simply click Edit > Undo in the top panel. You can also learn how to make a blurry picture clear.

Types of blur effects in Photoshop

By navigating to Filter > Blur or Filter > Blur Gallery, you’ll see a lot of blur effects. How can you choose the right Photoshop blur tool for your job? Let’s overview the types of blur effects in Photoshop.


This blur effect takes the average color inside a selected area and blurs it. The main advantage of this is that it creates smooth transitions.

Blur and Blur More

If you’re just learning how to blur in Photoshop, use the standard Blur to take components from inside your selection and carefully blur them. Blur More gives an even bigger effect.

Gaussian Blur

When you click on this Photoshop blur tool, a little pop-up box with a slider will appear. Use the slider to adjust the blurriness of the picture.

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Motion Blur

Motion Blur can add a sense of movement to your photos. Whether your subject is an athlete running, a dancer, or a train in motion, this will allow you to adjust the direction and intensity of the background. Use this Photoshop blur tool for your images of cars, dancers, and racing horses.

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Smart Blur

Using the Smart Blur tool, you can change the radius of the blur, blurring pixels a certain distance away from your main subject,  to create a smooth effect. This is how to blur a background in Photoshop more smoothly.

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Surface Blur

Surface Blur adds image blur to the center but keeps the edges sharp. You can play with the radius of this Photoshop blur tool to get different effects.

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Lens Blur

This Photoshop blur tool is perfect for when you want certain aspects of the background to stay in focus and others to be blurred. It lets you achieve the kind of depth of field you’re looking for when learning how to blur in Photoshop.

How to blur part of a picture

Most of the time, you don’t want to apply image blur to the whole picture but rather keep an element of the image sharp and in focus. You can achieve this by blurring the background. You can easily learn to blur part of a picture in Photoshop with this guide.

Experiment with the different blur tools to see which one works to your advantage. For example, you can apply the Iris Blur effect if you want the resulting photo to be partly blurred with a distinctive focal point. Here’s how to blur only part of a picture in Photoshop:

1. Open a photo in Photoshop.

2. Navigate to Filter > Blur Gallery and select Iris Blur.

3. After opening Iris Blur, you’ll see a blur preview ring with a pin and several dots. The pin is the point where the image is sharp and clear; the further away you get, the blurrier the image becomes.

4. Click the center of the pin and drag it wherever you like.

5. Now you can adjust the area of your blur photo. Everything outside of the ring will have the maximum blur effect. You can drag the dots to modify the area: hover your mouse over a dot until the cursor changes to a curved double-ended arrow. Then you can rotate, drag, and adjust the shape to your liking.

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6. The four larger white dots near the ring define the blur transition area: between the dots and the outer ring, the blur effect increases. You can move them to make your picture blurrier or sharper.

7. Adjust the amount of blur using the slider in the tools panel on the right.

8. Don’t forget to click OK or press Enter at the top of the Blur Gallery window. Save your project or export your image.

Now you’ve learned how to blur part of a picture. Use this technique if you want to draw attention to a person’s face in the crowd or a flower in a field. 

How to blur edges in Photoshop

Sometimes, blurring just the edges is enough to achieve the effect you want. Your viewer will focus on the central part of the image, while the edges of the photo won’t be as sharp. Here’s how to blur edges in Photoshop:

1. Open your image in Photoshop.

2. Select the Elliptical Marquee Tool near the top of the toolbar. Use it to trace the shape of your choice.

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3. Go to Select > Modify > Feather and type in the value of your Feather Radius. Press the OK button to apply it.

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4. At this point, you can select the Quick Mask Mode on the left below the toolbar. Now you can see where the edges will be blurred. 

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5. Next, click Select > Inverse, which will invert your selection.

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6. Go to the Layer menu and click New > Layer to add a new layer.

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7. Fill this layer with color using the paint bucket tool. To remove the selection, Press Cmnd + D or Ctrl + D

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8. Save the result if you’re satisfied with it.

This is only one way how to blur edges in Photoshop. If you think your edges aren’t smooth enough, here’s a quick guide on how to smooth edges in Photoshop. 

How to blur a background in Photoshop

Photoshop can help you do wonders in many different ways. Here’s how to blur a background in Photoshop.

1. Choose your photo with a subject in the foreground.

2. Cut out our subject. To do this, find the Quick Select Tool and make a rough selection around our subject. You can use the Alt or the Option key to make the selection more detailed.

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3. Choose Select > Mask. By using the brush tool you can select some of the finer details, like hair or edges of clothes.

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4. Click on Show Edge tool, increase the radius. You should start to see the edge of the photo. By turning off Show Edge, you can see that the selection has improved.

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5. Choose New Layer with Layer Mask option and click OK.

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6. Hide the layer with the subject by clicking the little eye icon, and choose the background layer.

7. You’re working on the background now, but click Ctrl/Cmd-Click on the hidden layer mask to load its selection. 

8. Click the Shift + Delete / Shift + Backspace and choose Content-Aware. Click OK. Hit Ctrl+D or Cmnd + D to deselect.

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9. Make the subject layer visible again, but make sure the background layer is still the selected layer. Then go to Filter > Filter Gallery > Field Blur. Field is for depth of field.

10. A pin will appear. Point two pins on the photo to blur it evenly. Experiment with what you like. When you find that perfect blur just click OK to apply.

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11. Shift+click the layer mask to see the before/after of the effect you have just created.

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Now that you’ve learned how to blur a background in Photoshop, you can also learn how to remove a background completely. As you can see, there are many details that you have to keep in mind when working with Photoshop, and there’s more than one way to blur in Photoshop.

How to blur in Luminar

Photoshop can be hard to master. Even when learning how to blur an image in Photoshop, you can see that there are many different ways. If you’re looking for alternative software that can do the job quickly, Luminar is a good choice. In Luminar, you can achieve stunning effects and blur photos, edges, parts of a picture, backgrounds, and more. Let’s see how to blur a photo in Luminar.

1. Open your photo in Luminar. 

2. Create a new layer by clicking the + button in the Layers panel and selecting Add New Adjustment Layer. This is where you’ll work on blurring the background.

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3. Click on the brush icon to select the brush tool, then paint your subject at 100% opacity. It might seem counterintuitive to add image blur to your subject when you really want to blur the background. But this is a good approach, as it’s faster to paint your subject and then invert the mask than it is to paint the entire background.

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4. Once you’ve painted the subject in your photo, go to the gear icon in the brush menu and click Invert. The mask will now cover the background. At this point, you may want to touch up the edges a bit to ensure that everything looks the way you want before you blur the photo.

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5. Now comes the fun part! Luminar provides some terrific blurring tools to choose from, including Soft Focus, Soft Glow, and Image Radiance. Choose among these to create the effect you want. Go lightly with the blur effect so as not to make the photo look unnatural. You can check your work by clicking the Preview button in the top toolbar to gauge your progress.

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6. Once the blurred background looks how you want it to, return to the first layer and add a bit of blurring to the subject too. Image Radiance is a great choice for this. Most likely, you’ll apply less blurring to the subject than the background. The goal of this is to create some visual separation between these two elements in the photo.

7. Go between the preview and the original photo and see where changes can be applied. When you’re satisfied with the result, click Apply and your photo will be saved automatically in the Library.

If you only want to blur part of a picture, just use the different mask tools that Luminar provides and apply the blur effect however you want to. There are other simple tips to keep in mind to make your photo even more stunning when you apply image blur. For example, you can choose the brush tool and set the opacity to 50%. Then paint along the edge of your subject. This will blur the edge just enough to help it look natural against the background. You can also adjust the color balance and exposure.

Adding a little warmth via the Warmth slider in the Soft Glow filter can breathe life into your subject. Other filters such as Tone can be helpful for tweaking highlights and shadows. Add stunning Looks to make your photos more creative and complete the picture.

As you can see, Luminar lets you transform your photos in many ways. With its intuitive tools, you’ll learn how to blur a picture quickly and easily. If you’re not sure about buying Luminar yet, you can give it a try for free by clicking the button below. We hope you enjoy the creative freedom of blurring your photos thanks to this article on how to blur in Photoshop and Luminar!