Softening with the Blur Tool in Elements - dummies

Softening with the Blur Tool in Elements

By Barbara Obermeier, Ted Padova

The Blur tool in Photoshop Elements can repair an image, or you can use it for more creative tasks. Adding a little blur here and there 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, as shown in the image where the classroom background was blurred a bit to draw attention to the teacher and students.

[Credit: © matka_Wariatka Image #4248830]
Credit: © matka_Wariatka Image #4248830

The Blur tool makes it easy to paint your blur effects exactly where you want them. This tool works by decreasing the contrast among adjacent pixels in the painted area. 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. In the Photo Editor, in Expert mode, open an image and select the Blur tool from the Tools panel.


  2. In the Tool Options, select a brush from the Brushes Presets drop-down panel.

    Use a small brush for applying small areas of blur.

    Use larger brushes with caution. For example, if your goal is to blur the entire background to make a foreground object appear sharper in comparison, it’s better to make a selection and apply the Blur filter.

  3. In the Tool Options, select a blending mode from the Mode drop-down menu.

  4. In the Tool Options, select the strength of the blurring effect with the Strength slider or text box.

  5. If your image has multiple layers, select the Sample All Layers option to make Elements use pixels from all visible layers when it produces the effect.

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

  6. Paint over the areas you want to blur.

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