How to Blur the Background of an Image in Photoshop Elements

howtoblurbackgroundinphotoshopAdobe’s Photoshop is a fantastic tool to use when creating, editing or designing images. However, with its incredibly versatile range of functions – figuring out even the most simple of tasks can seem daunting. Luckily, you can learn everything about Photoshop Elements 11 in this course. Since Photoshop is so complex we’ll go over a couple of different methods to achieve your desired background blur results right here.

Blur Tool

Maybe you thought this button was meant to make it rain, but really, the teardrop on your toolbar is the one for the relatively small and non-precise kind of job.

  1. Select the image you wish to edit.

  2. Click on that raindrop button on your toolbar.

  3. Go ahead and select the brush size and stroke at the top of your screen.

  4. On the drop-down menu you have the option to choose which area of the image you would like to focus on more. This allows you to lighten, darken, sharpen etc. the image.

  5. Now you will choose your blur strength. You can go super subtle (which would allow for more control), or you can do it up with a strong blur. The lower the number the more subtle the tool is.

  6. So now, you blur! Hold down your mouse over the parts of the background you would like to alter. Move the brush around in circular like motions (it’s similar to the spray can on the Paint program).

  7. Voila. You have created your very own blurred background image. Don’t forget to save it.

There are a lot of other cool things to do in Photoshop. This Photoshop tools workshop will get your Photoshop skills up to par in no time.

Lasso Tool

These tools are handy for a number of reasons, but today we will just focus on how it will let you blur your image background. There are a couple versions of the lasso tool to suit your needs. There’s the regular lasso, polygonal lasso (best if your background has straight edges), magnetic lasso (let Photoshop determine the foreground and background for you – if you feel like giving up the reigns). There is also another, non-lasso related option, the quick mask tool, which is totally freehand and best for super precise selections. If you are impatient, this may not be the best choice. You can learn more about these tools, amongst others, in this easy Photoshop CS6 Essentials online course.

Select the image you wish to edit.

  1. Click on the lasso tool towards the top of your toolbar. (Hold down your mouse and this will show you the option to use any of the aforementioned three lasso tools.) Or, just type L as a short-cut.

  2. Draw around the section of the background you would like to blur. A border around your selection will appear to be moving like little marcher ants. This is a good thing.

  3. If you choose to use the quick mask tool, you can find it hiding on your toolbar at the bottom. It looks like someone stuffed a circle into a square. They did.

  4. So now that you’ve got this border shuffling around your selection you probably want it to do the blur thing. Go to the top of your screen and select “Filter->Blur”

Types of Blur

There are 9 different styles of blur on Photoshop. Let’s go over them so you can choose the perfect one for you.

  1. Average

This blur tool allows you to take the average color inside your selected area and blur it. It creates smooth transitions.

  1. Blur or Blur More

Well, this does more or less what it says it’s going to do. Blur. It takes the components from inside your selection and carefully blurs them together. Especially good to use where different colors meet. If you’re looking for a more dramatic effect then select “blur more” which will increase the haze by about three-fold.

  1. Box Blur

This blur type reads the average color value of your selection and then of pixels next to your selection. It blends them together to make it a nice smooth, line-free, blur. Tip: A larger radius brush will create a greater blur.

  1. Gaussian Blur

This is easy. Use this tool to adjust the amount you want your image to blur. There will be a little pop-up box with a slider to do so.

  1. Motion Blur

Trying to make it look like the train was moving even though it’s been inoperable for years? Yeah, motion blur is your guy. This will allow you to adjust the direction and intensity of the background image. It’s like taking a picture out of a moving car.

  1. Radial Blur

This is equivalent to the zoom in and zoom out feature on your camera. You can adjust the radial blur from 1 to 100 in addition to using the radial spin or radial zoom options.

  1. Smart Blur

This option gives you the ability to be incredibly precise. You can change the radius of the blur for a specific area, which blurs the pixels at a certain distance away; or change the threshold which indicates which type of pixels you want to see blur.

  1. Surface Blur

The surface blur keeps the center of the image blurred to your degree of specification, but keeps the edges sharp. Play around with the threshold and radius’ to get different cool effects.

  1. Lens Blur

Maybe you want the certain aspects of the background to stay in focus and others to be blurred. This tool will let you achieve the kind of depth of field you are looking for. There are three choices for the lens blur, faster (for faster previews), blur focal distance (adjust the pixel depths) and invert (which inverts the alpha channels of your depth map source).

So, there you have it, blur tool 101. For Photoshop 101, check out this Photoshop Elements 11 Made easy training tutorial. It’s safe to say you’re probably a Photoshop blur tool pro now. Don’t forget to just play around and have some fun, too!