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How to blur a background in Adobe Photoshop.

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

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:

Image of a person with and without a bokeh blur applied

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.

Using the Gaussian Blur tool to apply a smooth, uniform blur to an image

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. 

Leverage the Tilt-Shift Blur tool to manipulate the perspective of an 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.

Using the Iris Blur tool to recall the effect of a shallow depth of field

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.


1. Select it:

Use the Select drop-down menu and choose Subject. Photoshop can usually find the subject using content-aware AI.


2. 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.


3. 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. 


4. 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.


Adobe Photoshop

Do more with Adobe Photoshop.

More advanced blur techniques.

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

Use the Blur Gallery.

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

Focus on your subject, blur the rest.

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

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