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How to Blur Background in Photoshop

For this tutorial, we will use a sunflower field photo to highlight by blurring the background.


Step 1: Open your image

In Photoshop, open the image you chose to work with.


Open image in Photoshop


Step 2: Create a mask

Go to Select > Select and Mask (option/alt + command/control + R).

Select and mask in Photoshop

To see how to create and refine the selection with the mask check our tutorial on how to smooth the mask edges.


Step 3: Save the mask

Check the decontaminate colors box and select output to new layer with layer mask before clicking OK.

Output to new layer with mask in Photoshop


The resulting image should look similar to this.

Masked image in Photoshop


Step 4: Further clean edges using mask mode

To see the mask, click on top of its thumbnail while holding the option/alt key.

Mask mode in Photoshop


Choose a medium brush, make sure that white is the foreground color.

Brush settings in Photoshop


Change the brush blending mode to overlay and clean up the edges if needed.

Overlay in Photoshop


Step 5: Fix outside edges

Change the foreground color to black and fix the outside edges too.

Switch foreground and background in Photoshop


Now you can exit the mask view and check out your image.

Cleaned edges in Photoshop


Step 6: Duplicate the background layer

Duplicate the background layer (command/control + J).

Duplicate layer in Photoshop


Or right-click on top of its thumbnail, choose duplicate layer and click OK on the pop-up window.

Duplicate layer settings in Photoshop


The duplicate should be in between the background and the masked layer.

Select layer in Photoshop


Step 7: Create a selection around the subject

Select the Lasso tool (L) and create a selection around the subject leaving a 3 mm space around its edges.

Lasso tool in Photoshop


Step 8: Use content-aware fill on selection

Go to Edit > Fill (shift + F5) and choose content-aware in the contents tab.

Content aware fill in Photoshop


Check if the auto settings work for you and make sure that output to current layer is selected before clicking OK.

Output to current layer in Photoshop


You can check out the result by hiding the masked layer on top but take into account that it doesn’t need to be perfect.

Hide layer in Photoshop


Step 9: Apply a gaussian blur

Deselect (command/control + D) and go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur.

Gaussian blur in Photoshop


Use a radius of 15% (or whatever amount that suits your needs).

Gaussian blur settings in Photoshop


If you want to bring out and highlight the subject more a bit more, you can add a color lookup adjustment layer to it. With the top layer selected go to the Adjustments panel and create a new color lookup adjustment layer using Crisp_Warm.look as 3DLUT File. Make sure you clip it to the masked layer. You can use any other preset or skip this step altogether.

Color lookup adjustment layer in Photoshop


Step 10: Save your artwork

Check it out and don’t forget to save your work.

Blur background in Photoshop


Now our background is blurred! What type of image will you be trying this technique with?
If you liked this tutorial make sure to check out some of our other Photoshop tutorials like how to use overlays and how to use textures.

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