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How to Blur a Picture to Create Cool Effects for Beginners

Last Updated on Sep. 23, 2022 – by David Morgan
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How to Blur a Photo

Portrait Mode is all the rage these days. Somehow, photos taken in Portrait mode look like they were taken by a professional photographer instead of a camera phone.

Portrait Mode is just a simple blur effect that shifts the focus onto the subject of the photo. Anyone can achieve the effect - whether they have the right kind of phone or not - by simply learning how to blur a picture.

There are other, more practical reasons you may need to blur a photo as well. In this guide, we will go over how to blur a picture for every possible scenario with an image blurrer on your Windows or Mac computer. We will also explain the different blur effects, blur tools, and offer some helpful tips. So let’s dive in!


Best Software to Blur a Picture

PhotoDirector Logo

PhotoDirector

PhotoDirector is an all-in-one photo editor, image blurrer, and organizer with an incredible selection of blur tools including soft focus, bokeh, and motion blur. It Includes AI-powered tools like deblur, photo effects, advanced color controls, and intuitive layer editing.

Click the button below to download PhotoDirector and start blurring photos like a professional.

Why Would You Blur a Picture?

Before we learn how to blur a picture, let’s go over why to blur a picture. Here are some of the most popular reasons to blur a photo:

To Highlight a Subject

PhotoDirector - Highlight a Subject

Like the aforementioned Portrait Mode, you can blur the background of a photo to make the subject stand out. This not only shifts focus towards a subject, but it can also serve to shift focus away from a terrible background, like a messy room.

For Privacy

PhotoDirector - Blur Privacy

Taking pictures of your kids at school functions and birthday parties can be tricky since you should never post pictures of someone else’s child without permission. Blurring the faces of strangers, kids, or people who just don’t like to appear on social media is always a good idea.

You should always blur your license plate when you take photos of your car, and your address if you take pictures in front of your home. These measures are important to protect your privacy, especially if you have a large following on social media or YouTube.

To Add Motion to an Action Shot

PhotoDirector - Blur Add Motion to an Action Shot

Have you ever taken a picture of someone running and the image looks like they are standing still? A little motion blur tells our minds that the subject is moving quickly - even if they weren’t in actual fact. Think of a poster of Superman with his arms stretched out. Add some motion blur and immediately you know he is flying at the speed of light. Without it, he’s a man wearing a unitard with his hands in the air.

For Artistic Reasons

PhotoDirector - Blur Artistic Reasons

You may want to blur a photo simply because it looks cool. And really, what better reason is there?

What are Different Types of Blur Effects?

Before you can learn how to blur a picture, you need to understand the types of blur effects available.

PhotoDirector - Blur Examples

Soft Focus

PhotoDirector - Blur Examples, Soft Focus

Soft Focus adds a light blur to your photo and implies a shallow depth of field. It focuses on just the part you want to emphasize, leaving the rest of the photo blurred.

Bokeh

PhotoDirector - Blur Examples, Bokeh

Bokeh (from the Japanese word “boke” meaning “blur”) is an out-of-focus blur effect that comes in different shapes: Round, X-shaped, Heart, and Star. Each shape works best for different types of photos. For example, the star shape is good for a glistening effect during lowlighting or night-time shots.

Radial

PhotoDirector - Blur Examples, Radial Blur

Radial blur adds a circular motion effect to photos. The blur swirls around the image, implying movement.

Motion Blur

PhotoDirector - Blur Examples, Motion Blur

Motion Blur draws focus from the image, giving the perception of speed and motion. This is an excellent way to blur a photo of moving people, animals, or vehicles.

Focal Zoom

PhotoDirector - Blur Examples, Focal Zoom

Focal Zoom also implies motion, but instead of giving motion to the subject, you imply the motion of the camera or photographer. It appears the photographer was either moving quickly or zooming in fast while taking the shot.

How to Blur a Picture on Desktop

Let’s look at how to blur a picture with the easy-to-use image blurrer, PhotoDirector.

Download PhotoDirector on your desktop and follow these steps:

  1. Launch PhotoDirector in Full Mode, then click Import to choose a photo from your computer or Stock Photos to choose a stock image.
  2. Open Guided from the bar across the top with your image selected.
  3. Under Photo Effects, choose Blur Tools.
  4. PhotoDirector - Blur Tools
  5. Choose either Circular, Linear, or Brush.
  6. PhotoDirector - Blur Options
  7. Click the drop-down menu to choose a Blur Type.
  8. You can click on each Blur Tool and Blur Type and see the result in the Preview Window to find the one that works best.

    PhotoDirector - Blur Types
  9. Set focus area and gradient range.
  10. If you chose Circular or Linear you will see a red dot at the center of the blur. You can move this dot around the image to set the center (Focus Area), then move the lines around the dot to set how much of the image you want to remain blurred (Gradient Range).

    If you chose the Brush tool, you won’t have a focus area or gradient range. Instead, you will need to select Brush Settings, such as the size and strength of the brush.

  11. Use the slider next to Blur Degree to change the intensity of the blur effect.
  12. PhotoDirector - Brush Blur
  13. Save the blur effect and continue editing or export your blurred photo.

For information on how to blur a picture with an iPhone or Android device, click here.

What are Different Types of Photo Blurring Tools?

Now that you’ve learned how to blur a picture, let’s take a closer look at the blur tools.

There are three options for setting the focal zone: Circular, Linear, and Brush.

Circular

A radial will appear in the center of your image with the Circular blur tool. The inner circle will be in focus. The outer circle shows the gradient range from clear to blurry. Everything outside the circle will be blurred.

Here’s how to blur a picture using the Circular blur tool: click on the red dot at the center of the radial to move it around your image and set the focal area. You can adjust the inner and outer circles as well, so you get everything you need in focus.

Blur types available for Circular Blur are Soft Focus, Bokeh, Radial, Focal Zoom, or Motion Blur.

Linear

With Linear blur, there are a set of lines down the middle of the image, with the middle section in focus. The two outer lines indicated a gradient range. Everything outside the lines will be blurred.

Here’s how to blur a picture using the Linear blur tool: click the red dot in the middle to move the lines up or down or tilt them at an angle. You can also widen the focal range to allow more of the image to be in focus.

When you are satisfied with the focal area and gradient range, unclick the box that says Show Mask to remove the lines so you can preview the photo. You can also use the Compare mode to see the photo before and after adding a blur.

Blur types for Linear blur are Soft Focus, Bokeh, or Motion Blur.

Brush

With the Brush tool, the entire image starts out blurred. The Brush tool gives you complete control over where to blur a photo. For example, you can blur something small, like a license plate in the background, or blur everything but one face in the crowd.

Here’s how to blur a picture with the Brush tool: use the Erase Effect Brush to paint things into focus. Set the size, feather, and intensity of the brush, or use the Restore Effect Brush to add back the blur.

For a quick Portrait Mode effect, use the Object Detection tool that looks like a tree cutout to blur everything but the main subject in the photo.

The Brush tool comes with blur types of Soft Focus, Bokeh, and Motion Blur.

Tips for How to Blur a Picture

Now that you know how to blur a picture, here are some added tips and tricks to follow.

Tip 1: One size does not fit all

There are different blur tools and blur types for a reason. Don’t use the same blur on every picture and expect the same result. You’ve just read about how to blur a picture with the different blur tools. Save yourself time by using the most practical blur tool for your project, then use the time you saved to try out different blur types to find the most aesthetically pleasing.

For instance, if you want to blur the background to highlight your friend standing in front of a statue, the Motion Blur effect would be the wrong choice. It would confuse the viewer into thinking your friend was hopping up and down instead of posing - and possibly take the attention off of the subject.

Tip 2: Use blur in unexpected ways

There are plenty of practical reasons to blur a photo, and often we don’t think about using it unless there is a clear reason. However, blur can also be an artistic tool when added to photos in unexpected ways.

Try adding blur to a cityscape or landscape. Add some pizzazz to all those beach and sunset pictures you took on holiday. With PhotoDirector’s image blurrer, your original image remains untouched, so it won’t hurt to take some risks.

Tip 3: Blur a photo using light effects

In PhotoDirector, Bokeh is also a Light Effect (found under Guided Edits). Just like a regular blur effect, you can choose the blur tool and blur degree. But inside the blur are lights that you can animate to give a twinkling effect. You can choose the shape of the light hits (circles, stars, X-shape, etc), the intensity, the amount, and even the color. This is a fun way to blur a photo taken at night, at Christmas, or any time you want to add a touch of sparkle.

Check out How to Create a Bokeh Effect to learn how to blur a picture with an animated light effect.

Download the Best Image Blurrer for Free

There are many reasons to learn how to blur a picture. And it couldn’t be easier to add professional-looking blur effects with PhotoDirector.

PhotoDirector offers multiple ways to blur a photo. It has various blur tools, styles, and effects with easy-to-use adjustment sliders so you have complete control to apply any strength or amount of blur you wish. You can play around with multiple blur tools for a custom look or use the Object Segmentation tool to adjust your blur effect automatically. You can even blur a photo with animated light effects to wow your friends and followers.

With so many features available, it is surprisingly easy to learn how to blur a picture with PhotoDirector. Download the image blurrer for free below on Mac and Windows and start creating the perfect shots with expertly done blur effects.

How to Blur a Picture FAQ

1. How Do I Blur the Background of a Photo?

Here’s how to blur a picture by blurring only the background:

  1. Import your photo into PhotoDirector.
  2. Open Guided from the bar across the top.
  3. Under Photo Effects, choose Blur Tools.
  4. Open the Brush tool.
  5. Use the Object Detection tool that looks like a tree cutout to blur everything but the main subject or subjects in the photo. This will make the background blurry.
  6. Choose Blur Type and use the slider to change the intensity of the blur.
  7. Save the blur effect and continue editing or export your blurred photo.

2. How do you blur something on a photo?

Here’s how to blur a picture by blurring only one object on the photo:

  1. Import your photo to PhotoDirector.
  2. Open Guided from the bar across the top.
  3. Under Photo Effects, choose Blur Tools.
  4. Choose Brush.
    The entire photo will appear blurred.
  5. Choose Blur Type.
  6. Choose Erase Effect Brush under Select a Brush. Use your mouse to erase the blur from everything in the photo except what you wish to remain blurred.
  7. Use the slider to change the intensity of the blur.
  8. Save the blur effect and continue editing or export the photo.

3. How do I blur part of a picture?

Here’s how to blur a picture by only blurring one part of the image:

  1. Import your photo to PhotoDirector.
  2. Open Guided from the bar across the top.
  3. Under Photo Effects, choose Blur Tools.
  4. Choose the blur tool that reflects the part of the photo you want to blur.
  5. Set the focus area and gradient range.
  6. Choose Blur Type.
  7. Use the slider to change the intensity of the blur.
  8. Save the blur effect and continue editing or export the photo

4. How do I add motion blur to a photo?

Here’s how to blur a picture with motion blur:

  1. Import your photo to PhotoDirector.
  2. Click Guided from the bar across the top.
  3. Under Photo Effects, choose Blur Tools.
  4. Select Brush.
  5. Under Blur Type, choose Motion Blur.
  6. The Motion Blur effect will be added to the entire photo
  7. Change the size, feather, and strength of the brush tool, then use your mouse to deblur the main focal point. Or use the Object Segmentation tool to deblur a person or vehicle.
  8. Use the Direction Dial to change the direction of the motion blur.
  9. Save the blur effect and continue editing or export the photo.

5. How do I deblur a photo?

Here’s how to deblur a photo using PhotoDirector:

  1. Import your photo to PhotoDirector.
  2. Click Guided from the bar across the top.
  3. Choose Deblur under the Improve or Remove tab.
  4. Click Apply.
  5. Use the slider to adjust the intensity or enter a numerical value.
  6. Save your sharp and in-focus Image

For more information on how to deblur an image with PhotoDirector’s image blurrer, click here.

6. How do I blur a face in a photo?

Here’s how to blur only a face in a photo:

  1. Import your photo to PhotoDirector.
  2. Click Guided from the bar across the top.
  3. Under Photo Effects, choose Blur Tools.
  4. Choose Brush. The entire photo will appear blurred.
  5. Choose Blur Type.
  6. Choose Erase Effect Brush under Select a Brush. Use your mouse to erase the blur from everything in the photo except the face you wish to remain blurred.
  7. Use the slider to change the intensity of the blur.
  8. Save the blur effect and continue editing or export the photo.

7. What features should I look for in an image blurrer?

The top ten features you should look for in an image blurrer are:

  1. Multiple brush tools
  2. Multiple brush types
  3. Slider to change the intensity of the effect
  4. Adjustable focus area
  5. Adjustable gradient range
  6. Multiple brush settings
  7. Direction dial for motion blur
  8. Deblur and Blur eraser tools
  9. Focus distance slider
  10. Light hits and effects

If you’re looking for an image blurrer that checks all of these boxes, we recommend PhotoDirector.

8. What are the best image blurrer apps?

The top 5 image blurrers for mobile are:

  1. PhotoDirector
  2. Tadaa SLR
  3. AfterFocus
  4. RealBokeh
  5. Bokeh Photo Editor

For more information on how to blur a picture with the above image blurrers, check out 5 Best Apps to Blur Pictures on iPhone and Android.

9. How do I blur a picture for free?

You can blur a photo for free with PhotoDirector. Download it today and you will have free access to the blur tool for 30 days.

10. How to blur a picture that is already taken?

With photo editing software it is easy to blur a photo that has already been taken. Import your photo into PhotoDirector and follow any of the step-by-step guides above.

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