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Sally Jane Photographic Art

Adobe Photoshop Tutorial


Photoshop Filter - Blur - Radial Blur

Radial blur and motion blur are fun filters to use to give the impression of movement. If used correctly, motion blur can create a similar effect to that that you would get if you were panning with a fast moving subject and a slow shutter speed. In this particular example I will show you how to effectively use Radial blur but you can apply Motion Blur in much the same way. The difference is that you would use motion blur mainly for a subject that was moving across the frame whereas radial blur would be used for something traveling towards you.

The example I am going to show you is a picture of my dog Brac running towards me.

radial blur

In this image (you can get a larger view by clicking on the image). Brac is nicely centred and he is coming straight at me. This is perfect for this effect. The first thing you need to do is to duplicate the layer in the layers pallet. To do that use the key board shortcut of ctrl+J. You will then have two identical layers in your layers pallet with the top one active.

radial blur

Now go to filter on the top menu bar and select Blur > Radial Blur.

radial blur

You will get a new window come up with some options.

radial blur

The slider is for the amount of displacement (blur) you want to create. This will vary depending on how high the resolution is for your image. Try a value of about 10 to start. If you over do it you can lose the effect. The second part is asking if you want to blur the image in a spin or zoom. If we were blurring a spinning wheel we would choose spin but as we want forward movement we need to choose zoom. last is a quality setting. The higher the setting the better the effect but the slower the application will be in applying it. I always go for best. when you are done click OK.

radial blur

So this is the result. Not bad but it needs some editing. If you look closely (click on the image to get a larger view) you will see that the blur has smudged Brac's legs and outline. We need to fix this. There are several ways in which you could edit this, you could use the history brush to remove the blurring from his body or you could use the eraser to remove that area of the blurred layer but I prefer to use an adjustment layer because if you make a mistake it is easier to rectify it. radial blur


To add an adjustment layer click on the 'Add Adjustment Layer' icon at the bottom of the layers pallet. It is the third icon from the left and looks like a rectangle with a circle in the centre. Once you click on it a white thumbnail will appear next to your image thumbnail in the active layer (which should be your top one). The adjustment layer is in it's off state, as it is all white. Any area that appears black in the adjustment layer will blank out that area of the layer. If we filled this adjustment layer with black we would effectively turn off the whole layer. We are not going to do that but instead we are going to paint black the areas we want not to be blurred in this adjustment layer. what we should end up with is a black silhouette of Brac appearing in the white thumbnail.

OK, lets get started. Select the paint brush tool and a semi soft brush in black of a suitable size to work comfortably within the area of your subject, I.E. Brac in this case. Zoom in to 100% so you can see the edges clearly. Click on the white thumbnail to make sure it is the Adjustment layer that is active and you are not going to paint black all over your image. Now paint within the area of your subject where you don't want any blurring. Notice how, as you paint, the original unblurred image re-appears. Try not to go over the edge of your subject. If you do, it's not a problem because it is easy fixed even if you don't notice it straight away. Simply switch to the eraser and rub it out. By using an adjustment layer you don't lose any of the information the layer, you simply hide or reveal it.

radial blur

This is my finished result. As you can see, there is a little black silhouette of Brac in the adjustment layer telling me this is the area that has been hidden from this blurred layer. If you click on the image you will see a larger view of the finished work and if you look closely you will see that I have removed any blurring from Brac and only left the surrounding area blurred. The image can now be flattened and saved.

Note: With Radial Blur you cannot change the centre point so your subject will need to be reasonably central in the image. This is not a problem with Motion blur because it does not have a centre.





Recommended Further Reading for Photoshop

Return to Filters Main Page

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"A-Z of Digital Editing"


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