How to Add Motion Blur to a Photo Using Photoshop

Motion blur can make your main subject look like it’s frozen in time. Adding in Photoshop is easy as you will learn in this article.

Motion blur photography is a great way to create dynamic images. Normally a picture can only capture a moment. However, with the help of motion blur, the photographer can tell a whole story. They can show a busy street or a passing car. Not to mention it looks cool.

But not everyone owns a professional camera that can make this effect possible. And even if you have a great camera on your phone, you might not know how to use it to create motion blur. In this tutorial, you’ll learn how to add motion blur after the fact.

How to add motion blur using Photoshop

Photoshop offers a variety of blur options. You can use the software to hide faces or text, or you can blur the background to make a person stand out. In this guide, we’ll focus specifically on motion blur to create dynamic images.

Create motion blur for the background

First we show how to create a blurred background. In the example selected below you can see that the cyclist is actually standing still. Using motion blur, we’ll make it appear like he’s driving fast while the background whiz by.

  1. Open your image in Photoshop.
  2. In which layers Menu on the right, click the lock icon to turn the background into a layer.
  3. Go to Select > Subject.
  4. Press W which to use Quick Selection Tool if you need to add or remove pixels to the selection (alt and click removes sections).
  5. Go to Select > Inverse.
  6. Choose Filter > Blur > Motion Blur.
  7. You can change it in the pop-up distance to make the movement appear faster. With angleyou can adjust the movement when the subject is going downhill or uphill.
  8. Press OK and then Select > deselect to admire the results.

Another common way to use this effect is when you have a person standing in front of a train or bus. Even if the vehicle was still in the picture, you can make it appear as if it is moving.

Create motion blur for a movement

In some situations you may want to create a more complex motion blur. For example, when several movements take place at the same time. Or if you just want to blur a small part of the image.

In the next example, we wanted the image to appear as if the dancer was throwing up her skirt in real time, rather than being a perfect still image. That’s what we used for that path blur Tool:

  1. As before, open your image and click the lock out in layers.
  2. Right click on the layer and select Convert to Smart Object.
  3. As in the first example you have to go Filter > Blur Gallery > Blur Path..
  4. Press Extinguish to remove the automatically created blur.
  5. Click on the screen to set the direction you want the object to move. Double-click to complete the path. You can add as many paths as you like, for example if a person moves their head in one direction and their hands in the opposite direction. You can also curve the paths to create circular motion. In our example, we wanted to blur the skirt up.
  6. Press OK at the top of the screen.
  7. In which layerspress the Smart Filters.
  8. Go to brush tool. change that hardness to 30% and make the size bigger too.
  9. Make sure the brush color is black.
  10. Go over the parts of the image that you want to keep in focus. In our case we just wanted the skirt to appear blurry while the rest of the dancer stands still. So we stroked her body, her feet and the floor – and left the rest in motion blur.

You can play around with this effect to add movement to a variety of situations. This is especially helpful in cases where there was movement in real life, but the picture was taken with a fast shutter and looks completely still.

The beauty of motion-blurred images

We hope this guide has given you all the information you need to add motion blur after the fact with Photoshop. You can see that even if photography isn’t your thing, you can create dynamic images that look professional. Or even as a photographer, you can play with the images long after you’ve taken them.

In addition, you can use this effect to create unique and artistic images. Adding motion blur to unexpected parts of the image can make it look like something out of a horror movie or fantasy novel.

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