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Tuesday, May 1, 2012

How to blur background in Photoshop

I usually picture everything sharp as much as I can. Especially with my simple pocket camera photos are sharp. In some moments it is more nice to simulate depth of focus. That's what I handle in Photoshop. Here is how I do it.

I took this picture on the Hollywood Bvd. You see two figures and street scene in the background.
I want to smooth the background. The foreground - focus on figures - should be sharp.

First I mark the figures.

Then I cut out the figures and insert the figures in a new layer.

I copy the background for later purpose into a new layer.
Now if I blur the background - I usually do this with Gauss-blur - the result is not satisfying because of the "hole" where the figures were.

 When overlaying the figures they seem to be shining white.

My trick is to fill the hole with background content aware fill.

Then I blur the background.

If you now overlay the figures there will be no shining.

Now to the figures. The edges are very sharp. I want to smooth it a little. So I mark the outside area and smooth edges by setting edge and cut out. For demonstration I made this effect too much. I hope you understand what I mean.

Figures look better now over the background. But parts of the street are in foreground and I want to have them sharp too. So I take the saved background and overlay it over the blurred background. Then I remove the parts of the background what I want to have unsharp. I do this with a very smooth brush.

And here is the result:


  1. After cutting out figures I fill the hole with function content aware fill. Then blur the background.
  2. I smooth the edges of the cut out figures.