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How to Use Gaussian Blur in Photoshop (Step by Step Guide)

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There are many reasons why you would want to blur an image in Photoshop. You can use it to reduce noise, add an artistic blur effect, or create depth by blurring the background.

Gaussian Blur in Photoshop is one of the blur tools you can use. In this article, I’ll show you how to blur a specific object in a photo.

blurred photo of a pink flower

What Is Gaussian Blur?

Gaussian Blur is a filter in Photoshop that uses a Gaussian function to blur an image.

According to Wikipedia, it was named after mathematician and scientist Carl Friedrich Gauss. It is an effect frequently used in editing software, typically for the reduction of noise and detail.

The Gaussian effect results in a smooth blur that looks as if you are viewing the photograph through a translucent screen.

How to Use Gaussian Blur in Photoshop

First, we need to make a selection of the object we want to blur.

I will use this image of a bottle of wine and two glasses. I want to blur the bottle to draw attention to the glasses.

A photo of a bottle of wine and two glasses with a fire in the background
©Pixabay

Step 1: Duplicate the Background to Stay Safe

Whenever you want to edit a photo, you need to duplicate the background. This way, you can always go back to the original image if something goes wrong.

Select the background layer on the layers panel and right-click on it. Select ‘Duplicate Layer…’

A screenshot of how to duplicate a layer in Photoshop

A new layer will appear on top of the background.

Alternatively, you can convert the layer to a smart object. Doesn’t matter whether you re-shape them or apply smart filters to them, smart objects safely hold the contents of the layer.

This means that any change we make to the object, it will not affect the layer itself.

screenshot of editing an image in photoshop

From this point, any adjustment you make to the background will appear under the layer on the layers panel.

Step 2: Create a Path Around Your Object

You can use any tool to make a selection. In this case, we’ll make a path first. The ‘Pen Tool’ is perfect for this example because the bottle of wine has a smooth and rounded shape.

Select the ‘Pen Tool’ from the toolbar on the left.

If the toolbar is not visible, go to ‘Window > Tools’ to make it appear. You can also use shortcut ‘P’.

A screenshot of selecting the pen tool in photoshop

Create a path around the object you want to blur. Zoom in the object and make sure to keep it as smooth and clean as possible.

If you make a mistake, use shortcut Cmd + Z to go a step back (Ctrl + Z for Windows).

A screenshot showing how to use gaussian blur in Photoshop

Step 3: Convert the Path to a Selection

Once you’ve chosen the desired area, you need to convert it to a selection.

In the ‘Paths’ panel, select the path you’ve created. If you don’t see the panel, go to ‘Window > Paths’. This will reveal the ‘Paths’ panel.

Click on the ‘Load Path as Selection’ button to convert the path into a selection.

A screenshot showing how to convert a Path to a Selection in photoshop

Before adding backgrounds blur, I recommend using the ‘Refine Edges‘ tool. This way you can make sure that the sharp edges of a blur effect won’t have a negative impact on your image.

Once you are satisfied with the edges, click OK and you can start applying the blur on the layer.

Step 4: Apply Gaussian Blur to the Selected Area

Go to ‘Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur…’ and the ‘Gaussian Blur’ window will appear.

You can drag the image in the ‘Gaussian Blur’ window to look for the object you’re going to blur. If you find it too small, tick the ‘Preview’ box and the result of the ‘Gaussian Filter’ blur will be visible in the image.

Drag the ‘Radius’ slider until you’re satisfied with the amount of blur.

A screenshot showing how to use gaussian blur in Photoshop

And this is the result. You can see that the bottle is smooth and blends in with the blurred background.

A photo of a bottle of wine and two glasses with a fire in the background

Conclusion

Every filter blur has a specific effect and its good to know the differences to get the best results.

Gaussian Blur in Photoshop is one of many filters. It is perfect for blurring the background or unwanted elements.

Feel free to play around with it and use it to your advantage!

Want to learn more about how to post-process your images? Why not check out our course Effortless Editing with Lightroom next!

Looking for more Photoshop tips? Check out our post about Motion Blur next!

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