How to blur a background in Adobe Photoshop.

Capture the allure of blur. Make sharp subjects stand out against soft backdrops.

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Highlight your subject and focal point by blurring the background.

By making part of the image fuzzier and less distinct, another part of the image looks even sharper and more vivid. The Blur Gallery offers a wide range of blurs to choose from — here are four of the most common ways to adjust your background in Photoshop:

Bokeh blur.

Capture the blurred background of many stunning portraits. Bokeh is the Japanese word for blur, but in English the term refers to blurry circles that seem to be radiating or refracting light. The bokeh effect can add a professional look to a photo..

Gaussian blur.

Add a smooth, uniform blur across the image that blends color. Gaussian blur uses a mathematical formula known as a Gaussian function to reduce the information in the entire image, which blurs the image.

Tilt-shift blur.

Play with perspective with a tilt-shift blur, which simulates the effect of a tilt-shift lens. Images are in focus in one part, usually the foreground, and get blurrier along a gradient. Tilt-shift images often have the added effect of making full-size objects appear miniature or toy-like.

Iris blur.

Duplicate or recall the effect of a shallow depth of field with an iris blur. This effect selectively blurs part of an image. The center remains in focus while the outlying areas look blurry.

How to blur background using layers, step by step.

There are many ways to achieve a blurred background, but this is the quickest, easiest way to do it in Photoshop.

  • Select it:
    Use the Select drop-down menu and choose Subject. Photoshop can usually find the subject using content-aware AI.
  • Fine-tune it:
    To avoid gauzy or ghostlike edges on the main subject, expand the subject selection area by about five pixels or so. That way, the edges of the subject will still appear sharp in front of a blurred background.
  • Mask it:
    Make a new layer mask of the subject. This will ensure your edits are nondestructive, and you can always go back to the original image.
  • Blur it:
    In the Layers panel, go to the background layer. Use the Filter menu, select the Blur tool, choose which type of blur you want to use, and adjust accordingly with the blur slider.


More advanced blur techniques.

Discover tutorials about adding blur, and how to adjust the amount of blur in an image.

Explore how to use field blur, lens blur, and many more of the blur options Photoshop has to offer.

Learn more about using Photoshop's blur options

Focus on your subject, blur the rest.

Discover how to put one part of a photo into sharp relief and blur what remains.

Learn more about blurring background for focal point

Frequently asked questions.

Is there a way to blur a background in Photoshop for free online?

You can blur a background with Photoshop on the Web Beta Blur by using Blur in the Adjustments panel. Radial Blur applies blur effects to specific parts of a photo and Full Blur applies a blur to the whole photo. Note that Photoshop on the web does require an Adobe Creative Cloud subscription.

Can I use a brush to blur a background in Photoshop?

Yes, you can use a tool to blur the background in Photoshop. Just select the Brush Tool and choose a brush shape and size or use the shortcut R to choose the tool. Increase the pressure of your brush strokes if you want to create more intense blurring. You can also adjust the hardness of your brush and select from different types of blur in the options panel.
Yes, you can use the effects in the Blur Gallery to blur a background in Adobe Photoshop. The Blur Gallery provides a variety of powerful blurring tools and effects, including the Field Blur, Iris Blur, and Tilt-Shift tools. You can use all of these to blur the background and create more sophisticated blur effects.

When should I use a background blur in Photoshop?

Background blur is an excellent tool to help draw attention to specific subjects in an image. They make the background less distracting. The most common uses for background blur are in portrait photography, product photography, or other cases where the subject needs to stand out — however, it’s always a matter of personal preference.

How do I blur part of a background in Photoshop?

To blur part of a background in Adobe Photoshop, you can use the Blur tool, which is in the Filter menu. Here's a general process to follow:

  1. Open the image in Photoshop.
  2. Create a duplicate layer of the background by right-clicking on the Background layer and selecting Duplicate Layer.
  3. Use a selection tool, such as the Lasso tool, to select the part of the background that you want to blur. Go to Filter > Blur and choose the type of blur you want.
  4. A dialog box will appear, allowing you to adjust the amount of blur you want to apply.
  5. Use the Opacity option in the Layers panel to adjust the strength of the blur effect.
  6. Save the image by going to File > Save As and choosing the desired format.