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How to Soften with the Blur Tool in Photoshop CS6

Using the blur tool here and there to soften an image, with Photoshop CS6, can save an image with a few defects. Blurring can also be used for artistic effect — say, to add a little motion to a soccer ball frozen in time by a too-fast shutter speed. You can also blur portions of your image to emphasize and focus on a particular element.

[Credit: ©iStockphoto.com/AlesVeluscek Image #4696750]
Credit: ©iStockphoto.com/AlesVeluscek Image #4696750

The Blur tool doesn’t push pixels around the way the Smudge tool does. Instead, the Blur tool decreases the contrast among adjacent pixels in the area painted.

The mechanics of using the Blur tool and several of its options are similar to those of the Smudge tool. Just follow these steps:

  1. Open an image and select the Blur tool from the Tools panel.

  2. In the Options bar, specify these settings:

    • Select a brush from the Brush Preset Picker or the larger Brush panel.

      Use a small brush for applying small areas of blur. Use larger brushes with caution to, for example, blur the entire background to make a foreground object appear sharper in comparison.

    • Select a blending mode from the Mode pop-up menu.

    • Select the strength of the blurring effect with the Strength slider or text box.

    • If your image has multiple layers and you want to blur based on the pixel information in all the visible layers in your image, select the Use All Layers option.

      Selecting this option can produce a smoother blur when you merge the layers later.

    • If you are using a pressure-sensitive tablet, click the last icon. Doing so overrides any settings you made in the Brush panel or Brush Preset picker.

  3. Paint over the areas you want to blur.

  4. When you finish, choose File→Save to store your image.

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