Software & Apps Design How to Blur a Background in Photoshop Get professional backgrounds without being an expert photographer by Jon Martindale Writer Jon Martindale has been a feature tech writer for more than 10 years. He's written for publications such as Digital Trends, KitGuru, and ITProPortal. our editorial process Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Jon Martindale Updated on October 21, 2020 Design Graphic Design Photoshop Animation & Video 3D Design Tweet Share Email What to Know Select the background, then Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur > OK.The Magic Wand is the quickest, easiest way to select a background.You can use Gaussian, Motion, Lens or Radial blur tools to reach the desired effect. This article covers discuss a four different ways to achieve a blurring effect and explains how to select the background so you can begin. The methods used here apply to Adobe Photoshop 2020. They'll also work with older versions, although the exact steps might vary slightly. First, Select the Background Before you blur the background, you must select it. There are a few ways to do this. Use the Magic Wand Fourth from the top in the Tools menu, the Magic Wand tool gives you the quickest and easiest way to select the background. This method works best on a photo with a clear background that contrasts with the foreground. Select the Magic Wand and click on the background. Hold down Shift to select additional elements if required. If the tool isn't selecting much of the background, increase the Tolerance at the top of the screen. If you don't see the Tools menu, select Window > Tools from the top menu bar. Use the Lasso If your background is too complicated for the Magic Wand, try the Lasso tool, which gives you even more control. The standard Lasso lets you free-draw your selection; Polygonal Lasso lets you draw in straight lines. The Magnetic Lasso tries to stick to the edges or borders of objects in your image. Click or tap and hold the Lasso tool (third from the top in the Tools menu) to choose one of the three Lasso tools. Make sure to draw completely around whatever you want to select. You can always "close" the selection early by pressing Ctrl or CMD, then click or tap anywhere on the image. Use Quick Mask This is a much more hands-on method of selecting the background. Select the Quick Mask tool. It's the second tool from the bottom of the Tools bar and looks like a grayscale EU flag. Select the Brush tool from the Tools menu, and then use careful brush strokes to paint over your subject. It will turn red. Use the Size menu at the top of the screen to increase and decrease the size of your brush as necessary. If you don't see red strokes when you paint, press X on your keyboard to ensure you're painting with black. If you make a mistake, press X again to switch to white, and then paint over the area again to deselect it. When finished, select the Quick Mask icon again to see your selection. If you find that you've actually selected the foreground rather than the background, just press CMD (or Ctrl) + Shift + I to invert your selection. Whatever method you use, be careful not to click or tap anywhere in the main window once you've selected the background; this could invalidate your selection. If you do, press CMD (or Ctrl on Windows) + Z to undo your action, or press CMD (or Ctrl) + Alt + Z to undo several steps. How to Blur the Selected Background Now that you've selected your background, you can choose from several different blurring options to achieve various effects. Gaussian Blur The most basic but effective of blur tools, Gaussian Blur merges and overlaps all pixels to create a generalized blur effect. Select Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur. Use the slider to decide how blurred you want the background to be. Use the preview window to look at a portion of your image, or select Preview to see the whole image. When you're happy with the result, select OK. Photoshop will apply the blur effect to the selected area only. Press Command/Ctrl+D to deselect and see the final result. Motion Blur This effect gives the impression of movement, as if the background is moving at high speed or the photographer is quickly moving past it. Select Filter > Blur > Motion Blur. Use the Distance modifier to change the strength of the blur effect. If desired, change the angle of the motion by entering a number in the corresponding box, or click and drag the small reticule. It'll be easier to see how the angle affects the final effect if you adjust it after setting the distance. Select OK to accept the changes. Photoshop will apply the blur effect to the selected area only. Press Command/Ctrl+D to deselect and see the final result. Lens Blur For a more subtle blurring that's akin to a shallow depth of field in photography, use Lens Blur. It has a number of options to play with, including: Radius: Affects the strength of the blur.Shape and Blade Curvature: Adjust the virtual lens that shapes the blur.Specular highlights: Increases the brightness of some portions of the image to imitate a longer exposure than when the image was initially taken. Play around with the settings until you find the effect you like, then select OK. Radial Blur For a unique look, try applying a Radial Blur. It's not a natural look, but it makes your foreground subject appear as though it emerged through some sort of portal. Radial Blur doesn't include a preview, so you may have to try several options until you get the effect you want.