How To Blur And Create An Out Of Focus Background In Photoshop (Quickly and Easily)

To make sure eyes stay on your subject try adding blur to the background.

|  Adobe Photoshop
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If you're trying to focus the viewer's attention on a person or object in your image one of the easiest ways to do this is to blur the background, creating an out of focus background, and giving the effect of "Bokeh". You can do this in camera but if you get home and realise your image which has a background that's in focus would look better out of focus put it into Adobe Photoshop and after a few easy steps you won't be able to keep your eyes off the subject. This tutorial will work with any version of Adobe Photoshop from Adobe Photoshop CS4 and newer, and is a quick and simple way of creating background blur. 

  • Software used: Adobe Photoshop CS4
  • Time taken: 15 minutes
Blur background in Photoshop

Duplicate the layer

With your image already loaded into Adobe Photoshop: Go to Layer>Duplicate layer and rename it.

Duplicate layer

Add blur

Go to Filters>Blur>Gaussian Blur and change the pixel radius until you're happy with the amount of blur in the image. We moved ours up to 16.7 but as little as 5 pixels can work for some images.

Add blur
Gaussian Blur

Bring your subject into focus

Adding the Gaussian Blur will have blurred the whole image so now we need to remove the blur from your subject. To do this select the erase tool and simply brush over your subject to remove the blur from the subject. Use a smaller sized brush when you get to the edges and select a slightly softer brush by right clicking on the image and adjusting the hardness slider. This will help stop too much of the background coming back into focus. If you do go over some of the background you can use the Undo command or if you need to go back more than one step use the history window. Go to window>History if it's not already open.

Erase Tool Using the Erase Tool

See the before and after images here:

Blur the background

Another way to add more "pop" to your portrait images is to add a vignette to your photo
To ensure the colour you capture is the colour you keep, use Datacolor - the Colour Management Experts.

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