Quick Tip – Grab Attention Using Blur in Photoshop

Quick Tip – Grab Attention Using Blur in Photoshop

Step 1 – Selecting Your Image

When selecting your image it’s normally a good decision to let it be a little bit bigger than the actual canvas. This will allow you to play with things like perspective, as well as avoid rough edges created by the lens blur effect we will be using. Take your image and drop it into a new Photoshop layer (we’ll name it “Clear Layer”). Here is mine:

Step 1

Step 2 – Duplicate Layer

Take the existing “Clear Layer” and duplicate it (right click layer>Duplicate layer). Let’s call this one “Blur Layer”, as it is the one we will be adding the effect to. Make sure that this layer is on top.

Step 3 – Add the Blur Effect

It’s at this point you can take some initiative and be creative with the type of blur you wish to use. All your options can be found in the top menu (Filter>Blur). I will be using Lens Blur in this tutorial because it has a good share of options.

In the Lens Blur options try playing around with the sliders to reach something you’re happy with. I have found typically that putting the radius between 5px or 8px, with a small amount of noise looks pretty fresh. Here are my options:

My options

All of this leaves my “Blur Layer” looking like this:

My Blur Layer

Step 3 – Adding the Layer Mask

This is the part where what we’ve done all comes together. We are going to use a layer mask to reveal some of the “Clear Layer” through the “Blur Layer” to achieve our goal.

Select the “Blur Layer” and create a layer mask for it. If you need a brief refresher on layer masks, take a moment to review.

Add layer mask

Pick out the area of your image you wish to put emphasis on, this will be the part that we will want to make the clearest. In my example I wish to draw the eye to the site logo.

You are going to use a gradient to gradually bring a part of your image into focus. Typically I’ve found that the circular gradient works nicely.

Select the “Blur Layer” mask and drag the gradient starting where your target is, in the direction of your choosing.

Pick a focus point

Step 4 – Final Product and Adding Some Polish

Currently your image should look somewhat comparable to mine:


You could stop at this point but here are a few ideas to perhaps add an extra layer of depth to your image

  • Add 1px borders to the outside (1 dark, 1 light) to give it some pop
  • Play around with the opacity of the “Blur layer” to reduce blur if desired.
  • Make use of Transform>Perspective
  • Add faint light and dark gradients to give illusion of lighting.

By following my own advice, I come out with my polished final result:


Picture in banner and thumbnail thanks to Pixel_Addict via Flickr

Posted Friday, April 17th, 2009 · Back to Top


Add Comment

19 Comments 2 Mentions

  1. Vadim P. Author Editor

    Very nice. Going to see if I can get such an effect accomplished with GIMP, as this is a very nice way to make a banner.


  2. Angger Atmawarin Author Editor

    Simple but powerful. Thanks for sharing this.

    Angger Atmawarin’s last blog post..Advertising: Career – Evolution


  3. W3Planting Author Editor

    vey good example, thanks for sharing


  4. T-Law Author Editor

    Easy and simple but useful, thanks.


  5. @krigsi Author Editor

    Great tute.
    I find it more effective to use a basic black soft-circle brush instead of a gradient (just vary the opacity or grey to achieve different blurr ammounts). I feel it adds more control and is far more flexible to form to custom shapes.


  6. Melody Author Editor

    That’s certainly a nice place on depth of field as well..great tip

    Melody’s last blog post..Logo Design Process for Trudy Thomas


  7. Robin Cannon Author Editor

    Really nice effect. I’m working on a site redesign at the moment and that includes a portfolio redesign, I can see this being a very cool option for previewing sites.

    Robin Cannon’s last blog post..Funky Friday Collection – 17 April 2009


  8. Franky Author Editor

    Very Nice.
    Ive been seeing this technique around lately and I tried doing it. I tackled it with the same direction…



  9. Callum Chapman Author Editor

    helpful tip, will come in handy in the future i’m sure!

    Callum Chapman’s last blog post..Graphic Designers to follow – April 19th 2009


  10. Anime Art Author Editor

    aah now tht is really good stuff


  11. iMob Codes Author Editor

    Very nice. I’ve seen that effect everywhere, but I’ve never seen a tutorial for creating it.


  12. Garry Aylott Author Editor

    This is a great effect and can be used creatively.

    You can also use the Quick Mask route which take a bit less time and will produce similar results.

    Nice tut though.


  13. Jørgen Author Editor

    I was looking for a tutorial like this actually :) Thanks!

    Jørgen’s last blog post..33 Best Photoshop Tutorials of April 2009


  14. Montana Flynn Author Editor

    That is a great tut. I love quick photoshop tricks.

    Montana Flynn’s last blog post..How To: Show future posts in wordpress


  15. Han Author Editor

    Let’s cross the bridge when we come to it.


  16. hcg levels by week Author Editor

    I usually do not leave a leave a response, but I browsed through some comments on this page Quick Tip – Grab Attention Using Blur in Photoshop | Build Internet. I actually do have 2 questions for you if you do not mind. Is it simply me or does it appear like some of the remarks appear like they are left by brain dead people? :-P And, if you are writing on additional sites, I’d like to follow you. Could you post a list of all of your social sites like your linkedin profile, Facebook page or twitter feed?


  17. Vic Author Editor

    I have tried to find such kind of information for a long time, thank you for sharing. They are very useful.


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  19. acromedia Author Editor

    Thanks for your post on this weblog. From my experience, often times softening upwards a photograph may possibly provide the digital photographer with a little bit of an imaginative flare. Oftentimes however, the soft blur isn’t exactly what you had planned and can frequently spoil a normally good photograph, especially if you consider enlarging this.



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