How to Blur the Edges of a Photo in Photoshop

Blurred edges can add depth and dimension to your images. You can use this technique to enhance the look of your portraits, landscapes or abstract designs. It works best when applied to black-and-white photos (like the one below) because it adds contrast without making them look too harsh. You can also use this method with color photographs if you want to add some extra drama to your work!

This tutorial will show you threeways that you can blur the edges of your photographs in Adobe Photoshop. The first section will guide you through the basic process, which involves blurring all four sides of a photograph. The second section will take you through the process of making an elliptical blur. We’ll finish with a single-side blur, where you will learn how to fade an image into a colored background.

Create a Feathered Blur in 4 Easy Steps

We used a black and white photograph for this section of the tutorial so that you can see how the feathered blur mixed with a black background can make the details stand out.

Step 1: Import your photo into Photoshop and make sure that it isn’t set as your background layer. If it is, right-click your mouse and choose Layer from Background from the drop-down menu.

Step 2: Select the rectangular Marquee tool and draw a rectangle over the image, leaving a border that creates a frame. Your image should look like this:

Step 2

Step 3: Go to the Select menu and choose Inverse. Or press Command/Control + Shift + i. Your original image should now look like this:

Step 3

Step 4: Go to the Select menu and choose Modify, then Feather. Set the feather radius to an amount that is close to the border in your image. You can always change this radius later on if you don’t get the result you want.

Step 4

Click OK to close the dialog box. You will notice that the corners of the inner marquee frame turn round. Tap the Delete key to remove the frame, and then Command/Control + D to delete the mask. The result should look like this:

Step 4 -1

You can use the default white for the background layer, or you can turn it off to create a transparent background like we did in the image above. Both create a subtle blur. Alternatively, you can change the background layer to a fill layer like we did in the image below.

Step 4 - 2

In this case, we changed the background to black to make the background and feathered edge stand out better. Experiment with the feathering and background color to see what works the best for your photo.

Creating an Elliptical Feathered Blur

You aren’t limited to using rectangular photographs for creating blurred edges. You can select a focal point of an image that you want to use for a design project.

Step 1: Open your image in Photoshop and select the Elliptical marquee tool from the tool panel. Draw a circle around the subject.

Creating an Elliptical Feathered Blur1

Step 2: Go to the Select menu and choose Modify, then Feather. Once the dialog box opens, set the feather radius to about 30% and click OK. Remember, if you don’t like the result, you can always change it.Creating an Elliptical Feathered Blur 2

Step 3: Go to the Select Menu and choose Inverse.

Creating an Elliptical Feathered Blur 3

Step 4: Press the Delete key to see the result. If you’re happy with what you see, press Command+D to deselect the marquees. This is our result:

Creating an Elliptical Feathered Blur 5

As you can see, most of the background is gone. You can turn the background layer on or off, or you can change its color to make your image pop. If you decide to hide the background layer, save your image as a PNG so that no background will appear.

The Fade Technique

The final section of this tutorial utilizes the gradient tool to blur one side of an image with a solid colored background.

Step 1: Open a new file and set the dimensions to 1500 x 3000 pixels (H x W). Place the image so that it sits off to the side.

The Fade Technique 1

Step 2: Create a solid color fill layer above the photo layer. Make sure your image layer is selected. Then click the New Fill or Adjustment layer icon and choose Solid Color from the list. Set the color to White for now.

The Fade Technique 2

Click Okay. You’ll find that the Color Fill layer was automatically added to the layers panel.

You’ll also notice that the color fill layer is hiding your photograph. This is normal and will change once you apply the gradient fill. The color fill layer includes a built-in layer mask, which you will use to make the gradient, which will fade into the photograph.

Step 3: Make sure the layer mask is selected before you start working on the fade. Select the gradient tool or press G on your keyboard. Go to the Options bar and click on the black-to-white gradient.

The Fade Technique 3

Step 4: Hold down the shift key and draw the gradient from somewhere in the general area where your subject appears to the point where you want it to fade into the colored section. Release the mouse button and shift key to check the result.

If the gradient doesn’t appear exactly where you need it to be, draw another one. Photoshop will automatically replace the previous gradient that you drew.

Step 4 1

This is what our gradient looks like right now. Notice the transition between the solid color and the image.

Step 5: Now, we’re going to change the white to a different color from within the image. Double-click the color of the fill swatch (to the left of the mask) in the layers panel.

Step 5

The color picker will automatically pop up. Then choose a new color from the picker or choose one directly from the image. If you choose to use the image, go to the Options bar and select the 5×5 Average sample size from the drop-down menu. Adobe Photoshop will choose the average color that is based on several pixels instead of just one.

Make sure the Sample option is set to All Layers before you start picking colors from the image. When you’re finished, click OK to close the color picker.

If you’re satisfied with how the gradient looks, you can further embellish it with text that will establish the design’s purpose.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Can You Smooth The Edges In Adobe Photoshop?

There are many ways to do this. Here are some tips:

  1. Use the Gradient Tool. Click anywhere inside the edge of the object you wish to soften. Draw a line across the top of the object. Now drag the cursor along the bottom of the object until you reach the other end of the line. Drag again to create a softening effect. Repeat steps two through four if necessary.
  2. Create a Layer Mask. To add more control over the process, create a separate layer mask by clicking the Add Layer Mask icon at the bottom of the Layers Panel. In the Layers Panel, double-click the layer mask thumbnail to open its properties window. Choose Black as the foreground color and 100% Opacity. Finally, click Apply to save the changes.
  3. Change the Blend Mode. For even smoother transitions, try using Soft Light blend mode.
  4. Experiment with blending modes.

What Is The Difference Between Blurring And Feathering In Photoshop?

Blurring refers to making an element look blurry. It makes objects seem less sharp than they really are. Feathering means adding blur around an object so that it blends seamlessly with surrounding elements. You can achieve both effects by adjusting the Amount setting for each filter separately.

Feathering works best when there isn’t much detail in the background. However, if you have lots of fine details in the background, then you may not see any improvement.

How Do You Blur The Edges Of Your Photo With Photoshop On Your Iphone?

You’ll want to download the free app called “Photoshop Express” which allows you to edit photos on your phone without having to connect to a computer. The app has all the same features as Photoshop CS6 but also includes filters such as Gaussian Blur, Lens Correction, Color Balance, Exposure Adjustment, Red Eye Fix, etc.

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