How To Blur Backgrounds in Photoshop [FAST & EASY]


Draw focus to your subject with this complete step-by-step tutorial on how to blur backgrounds in Photoshop!

In this Photoshop tutorial, you will learn how to easily create the shallow depth of field effect (out-of-focus background) without an expensive lens.

You will learn about selections, Layer Masks, Smart Objects, and the Tilt-Shift Blur to blur your photo’s background.

Duplicate Your Original Image

Start the process by duplicating your image layer and renaming the duplicate layer to “Foreground.”

You can right-click to duplicate or use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl J (Windows) or Command J (macOS).

Make a Selection Out of The Main Subject

The next step is to remove the background from the main subject to avoid edge halos upon blurring the image and to give you more flexibility when masking the Foreground element. 

To create a selection with the latest version of Photoshop, choose Select > Subject and allow Adobe Sensei, Photoshop’s Artificial Intelligence (AI), to study the entire image, find the subject, and create a selection out of it.  Alternatively, you can use the Select Subject Button in the Taskbar.

Expand The Selection

Create a gap between the selection and the edge of the subject’s body by choosing Select > Modify > Expand. 

Choose the appropriate pixel value for the selection to expand into and press OK.

Make sure that there is a gap between the edge of the selection and the edge of the main subject.

Remove The Main Subject with Generative Fill

From the Taskbar, click on Generative Fill and leave the prompt black. Then click Generate. Photoshop will generate three variations that will perfectly remove the Background.

NOTE: In older versions of Photoshop, use Content Aware-Fill Choose Edit > Content-Aware to remove the subject from the layer. The Content-Aware Fill uses content similar to the surrounding areas. The results are not as good as Generative Fill.

On the Layers panel, you will find the generated Background copy where the photo’s main subject has been removed. 

Remove The Background From The Model Layer

One crucial step when blurring backgrounds in Photoshop is removing the background from the Model layer.

To do so, select the Model layer and choose Remove Background from the Taskbar.

Blur The Background with Lens Blur in Camera Raw

First, convert the Background layer into a Smart Object so that you have the ability to edit the blur at a later time. 

Then, choose Filter > Camera Raw Filter.

Then open the Lens Blur panel and click on the Apply box. Since there’s no subject to select automatically, Photoshop will keep the center part focused and blur the rest of the background.

But you can change that by clicking on this Target icon and then clicking on the area where she should be standing.

Fine-Tune The Layer Mask

While the Lens Blur does a great job at automatically creating a subject selection, it isn’t perfect. 

Fine-tune the Layer Mask by selecting the Brush tool and painting with white (to reveal) and black (to hide) pixels

Paint Hair Back Into Your Image

First, hide the stray pixels that are too difficult to select. Do so by painting with black on the Layer Mask.

Then, create a New Layer and rename it to “Hair.”

Select the Brush Tool, set the Size to match your subject and Hardness to the minimum value.

Then click to paint in the “stray hairs” for a more natural look.

For a more realistic look, use the Eyedropper tool to sample the subject’s hair colors and use that for the hair color.

Paint Hair with a Custom Brush

In a previous PTC tutorial, we uncovered how you could create your own hairbrush and use it to paint in hair not included in the Layer Mask.

If you don’t have the Hair Brush, you can download it here:

319 – PTC Hair Brush (14447 downloads )

Click here to learn more about how to make better cutouts!

This is how you can blur backgrounds in Photoshop! Now you know how to create the effect that your photo was shot with an expensive lens!

If you liked this tutorial, then check out this tutorial on the Top 10 Genius Photoshop Features!

Final Image

Drag The Slider To See Before & After

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Rickenson

I’m your fan i’m really enjoying your your tutorials
And i learn a lots from you .

Dianne Hwang

Thank you for the hair brush. This tutorial is so good. You are an excellent teacher!

LAKSHMI

YOU ARE A GREAT TEACHER. LEARNT A LOT FROM YOUR VIDEO TUTORIALS

Jade

This entire tutorial neglects to cover what happens when the background is more complex and the Adobe Sensei fails to correctly determine the subject. Completely useless for what I needed help with.

Taigan

Thanks so much for a brilliant tutorial! You’re a true saviour!

hibi

thanks a lot!