how to: blur photos in pse.

i’ve been jealously reading blog posts with photos that have portions blurred out.¬†with all my googling capability, you’d think i would have stumbled on a method earlier.

but i didn’t.

so i was left painting over areas with a marker. until last week, when i read these magic words i haven’t heard since college: gaussian blur. it’s the little things.

in honor of this simple photoshop trick, i thought i’d write a post on how to blur pieces of photos – if not to help others, than at least so i have it to refer back to. i’ve never blogged about photoshop, but i love using it. hope it’s not too far off for verbs and vignettes.

blur title

you know how sometimes you say a word in your head over and over and it loses all meaning? say it with me: “blur.”

if you’re worried about your original, right click and duplicate the layer. i don’t worry about this because i always save new files.

i’m using pse 10 – photoshop elements. it’s the baby brother of photoshop, but i almost prefer it to expensive photoshop creative suite i use at work.

gaussian blur.

click images to view larger.

first, select the area you want to blur. i like to use the “quick selection tool.” you basically use it like a marker to select areas.¬†sometimes i switch to the “magic wand tool,” which you click to select similar areas. both tools can be finicky when adjacent colors are too similar.


in each tool, you can choose to subtract from your selection, which will refine the area. in the magic wand tool, if you’re getting too much area, you can switch the tolerance to a lower number. this makes the selection more exact.


really, “undo” is my favorite tool.

one more selection tip: if the area to blur is most of the photo, and you just want a small piece unblurred, select the most convenient area. then, you can go to select >> inverse, and you will have the exact large area you need.


once you have your selection, go to filter >> blur >> gaussian blur.


in the preview window, you can slide your radius up and down to choose the best amount of blur. sometimes you want a hint of what you’re blurring, other times, you want it gone. “preview” will eliminate the guess-and-check element.


selection blurred:


and inverse selection blurred:


and you’re done.

toolbar blur tool.

another quick blur trick is to use: the blur tool. this is in the left side toolbar, and is ridiculously simple to use.

select the tool.


choose your size (and strength… though i’d keep this at 100%).

rub over the area.


it builds as you go, which means you can continue rubbing the area until it’s sufficiently blurred.


after i was tired of rubbing over the area, the text was definitely blurred, but i prefer the control with the gaussian blur.




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