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How to Blur Background in Photoshop

Background blur, or otherwise known as Bokeh, is used for a lot of purposes such as drawing attention towards a specific part or just for visual appeal. Sometimes you take a picture and you think that it would have looked better with blurred background. Fortunately, Photoshop comes with a lot of tools and types of blurs for this purpose. Read along if you want to learn how to blur background in Photoshop.

Just before you begin, you should know that there are numerous ways to do this but we have selected two of the best and easiest methods for this.

Iris Blur Tool

Now, let us see how to blur background in Photoshop using the Iris Blur effect. Using this blur effect, we can set a focal point and then blur the rest of the image. Open the photo and just follow the steps.

Step 1:

The first step is to head into Blur Gallery in Filter Menu. There you have to select Iris Blur.

Step 2: How to Blur Background in Photoshop

In this step, you have to set the focal point. The focal point determines the area of the image which will stay sharp. When you select Iris Blur, a preview ring will appear on the image. In the center, there is a target. As you move away from the target, the blur starts to increase. You can move the ring by clicking on its center and then drag it to the place which you want to keep sharp. Release the mouse and the focal point will be defined.

Step 3:

In the third step, you have to specify the area of the blur. It can be done by modifying the outer ring. There are four dots on it, once you hover the mouse on them, you will a double-arrow. Click on it in order to rotate the ring or click and drag to change the shape of the ring. If you just want to change the size of the ring without changing shape, then you can do so by dragging from the line rather than the dots.

Step 4: How to Blur Background in Photoshop

Inside the outer ring, there are four larger dots. These dots define the transition area which means that blur goes from 0 to 100 in them. If you drag these dots near the focal point, then you get a smoother transition from sharp to blur and vice versa. 

Step 5:

You are already at the last step of learning how to blur background in Photoshop using Iris Blur. In this final step, we will set the blur amount using the blur dial. It is present around the center of the ring. You can either rotate it to adjust the blur amount or you can use the blur slider present at the right panel.
Field blur in Photoshop - How to Blur Background in Photoshop

Now let us see how to blur background in Photoshop using Field Blur. 

Step 1:

Select Field Blur from Blur Gallery.

Step 2: How to Blur Background in Photoshop

Field Blur uses blur pins in order to define the areas where the blur should be applied. When you select this tool, Photoshop automatically places a pin on the photo. You can move it anywhere in the photo. The best way is to place the first pin farthest away from the focal point. You can also set its blur amount by using the slider present on the right panel.

Step 3:

The thing is that when you first open the tool, only one pin is present which blurs all of the images. Add a second pin on the focal point or the subject and set its blur amount to zero. Keep adding pins to the image and set their values accordingly. 

Step 4: How to Blur Background in Photoshop

Now you have to refine the amount of blur on all pins. As a thumb rule, the pins that are farthest away from the focal point should have the maximum blur. Whereas, the blur amount should gradually decrease as you move near to the focal point in order to create a smooth transition from sharp to blur.

Step 5:

You can see that it was very easy to learn how to blur background in Photoshop using Field Blur as well. In this final optional step, you can use the blur effect options present on the right-hand panel to further refine the image. If your image has point lights in the background, then you can use Light Bokeh to enhance the bokeh effect. It does so by increasing the brightness of the brightest parts present in out-of-focus portions of the image. Bokeh Color will adjust their colors and Light Range will adjust their tonal range. For a smoother transition, you can use the Noise Tab which is used to restore blurred noise which matches the subject and the background

Conclusion - How to Blur Background in Photoshop

As mentioned in the beginning, many other ways can be used to learn how to blur background in Photoshop. However, Field Blur and Iris Blur are two of the most flexible and easiest methods which allow you to produce lens quality bokeh effects. Enjoy!

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Have a nice photoshoot! 

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