How To Effectively Blur Horse Manipulations
 By T W I   •   20th Jun 2012   •   6,033 views   •   11 comments
Software: Photoshop Elements | Skill level: Advanced

How To Effectively Blur Horse ManipulationsWe have all seen images where the subject, maybe a flower or a human, is in crackling sharp clarity, but the background is just a blur of colors. Something about these always strikes the eye as more professional than the ones where everything is in focus, no matter the distance apart. Perhaps the fact the subject is undoubtedly highlighted while everything else is indistinct, is what sets these shots apart.

When creating a photo manipulation, while all-focus manips look good, such blurring affects can achieve more of a soft, professional look by simply blurring different planes of perspective. The only difference is, we get to do it manually.

The first thing to know about manually blurring an image, is that there are several different planes of perspective. While focusing on the foreground and blurring out the background is most common, the camera can usually focus on almost any point, blurring everything else out. Relative distance between the subjects and their background are what matters, not their nearness to the camera.

Another important fact to remember is that blurring is gradual, unless the distance is not gradual. Take a landscape for example. The waving grass up front will most likely be in focus, but as it grows farther and farther away, it will slowly start to loose its definition. The mountains in the very back will probably be very indistinct, more so than the rest of the picture, since they are the farthest away from what is in focus.

The reason the blurring is so gradual is because the landscape is gradual. However, if you took a flower and held it a fair distance away from a brick wall, if you focused on the flower, it would be perfectly clear and the wall would be an indistinct blur in the distance. There would be no in-between level of blurring because there was no in-between level of distance. How gradual your blurring job is can make all the difference, so the above principles are important to keep in mind.

So, after a lengthy description of just how blurring works, we can finally begin practically apply our knowledge! I usually blur my images after everything else is finished, just in case I end up adding more subjects on different perspective planes, or combining backgrounds. Waiting until the very end is usually a good idea.

Duplicate the background layer, as this is the layer we will be working with and we always want to have an original to revert back to if anything goes wrong.

Make a selection with the rectangular marquee tool (keyboard shortcut ‘M’), of the farthest point in the distance. Maybe mountains, rocks, or the distant sea. Go ahead and select the area you wish to be out-of-focus, ignoring anything in the foreground that is blocking the background that will be blurred, even if it is on the same layer.

How To Effectively Blur Horse Manipulations

Now, once the selection is created, check for any points in the foreground that don’t gradually get farther away. In my case, there is a large rock on the left hand side of my image will sharply contrast with the background, as there is no intermediate ground between them.

If your image does not contain any foreground objects that block out the background, skip this step. You will be selecting any objects in the foreground that don’t gently fade into the background, like the rock on the left side of the image. If you accidentally select some of the background or miss some of the rock, don’t panic, just keep going.

Use the magnetic lasso tool (Keyboard shortcut "L") to slowly select everything that you do not want blurred. Once you've finished, look to the top of the screen; there will be a little bar with all the options for the tool. On the far left, there should be four boxes. Mouse over them and text should appear, telling you their function. We will be using the ‘subtract from selection’ box.

Once you’ve finished with the rough selection, it’s now time to clean it up! Select the circular marquee tool. If you accidentally included any unwanted pieces of the background in the area that was deselected, you can reselect them by simply choosing the ‘add to selection’ box. It will be in the same place, the upper left, as it was with the lasso tool. Use the ‘subtract from selection’ box to add in pieces that the lasso tool may have missed.

Once everything is removed that you don’t want in the selection, we can finally blur! This step is very easy. Go to Filter - Blur - Gaussian Blur. Take the radius to somewhere between 4 and 7, but use your judgment and blur it to taste.

Deselect. Take your rectangular marquee tool again and make another selection, this one a little bit smaller, right underneath where the image has been blurred. (See screenshot below).

How To Effectively Blur Horse Manipulations

If there is anything in the foreground that shouldn’t be included in the blur, remove it from the selection as described above.

Feather the selection to 50 pixels. Pull up the Gaussian Blur again, this time blurring the radius between 2-4 pixels. Since the area we are blurring is closer to where the image will be in focus, it shouldn’t be blurred as much, and so we are only applying the filter at roughly half the strength we used initially. Although we feathered the selection to blend the blurring job into where the image becomes clear, sometimes it still looks a little rough. Though this isn’t always the case, it’s usually a good idea to further blend it in, using the good old fashioned blur tool, no filters involved. (keyboard shortcut ‘R’).

How To Effectively Blur Horse Manipulations

Zoom in and take your blur tool, strength set to 90%, and begin blurring the area beneath where you applied the filter. You don’t have to completely blur it out, just blend the area in focus with the area out of focus, until you are satisfied.

Now we’ve finally finished blurring the background! Give yourself a pat on the back. We can now start on any objects on different layers ,in the intermediate area, that need to be blurred. They're usually not as far away from the area of focus, as the distant background, but not quite in focus either. In my case, the sea bird behind the horse is a far enough away that it will need to be blurred, but since it’s not nearly as far away as the sea behind the horse, I will not need to blur it nearly so aggressively.

Select the layer you intent to blur, the “seagull layer” in my case. Pull up the Gaussian blur box again and blur it to about 1.5-2.5 pixels. Again, the amount you blur can vary greatly, so follow your instincts.

And you’re done!

How To Effectively Blur Horse Manipulations
Horse News More In This Category:  Graphics      Horse News More From This Author:  T W I
Love Forever  
Great post!!
  Jun 21, 2012  •  5,413 views
Helped me alot!
  Jun 21, 2012  •  5,644 views
Double Spur Ranch  
great article and great job!
  Jun 21, 2012  •  5,417 views
Yay Twi! I like this. ^^ Incredibly useful I think.
  Jun 22, 2012  •  5,615 views
Awesome! I love your manipsXD
  Jun 22, 2012  •  5,777 views
Pink Fox Equestrian  
Very helpful.

Thank you.
  Jun 22, 2012  •  5,433 views
Thanks! This is really useful!
  Jun 22, 2012  •  5,457 views
Horsie Luver  
Thank you!!! Really helped!!!
  Jun 27, 2012  •  5,448 views
Very detailed and informative. Great article!
  Jun 29, 2012  •  5,438 views
Very helpful
  Jul 7, 2012  •  5,398 views
C H O S E N  
This is great, thanks :)
  Jul 28, 2012  •  5,432 views
 More News by T W I
How To Edit A Background From Boring To Beautiful
26th Dec 2012   |   Graphics   |   T W I
While in an equine photo manipulation, the horse is the focal point of the image, a gorgeous background can add much to the overall impact of your creation. Here are several tips and tricks to get that dreamy, beautiful background ...
How to Draw Horse Hooves on Photoshop
4th Oct 2012   |   Graphics   |   T W I
We’ve all encountered that perfect stock image, a sleek, well positioned horse that will fit nicely in the background we’ve picked out for our manip - except for one little detail. Dirty, gross-looking hooves. What now? Do we just ...
How to Draw a Black Mane and Tail using Photoshop
3rd Sep 2012   |   Graphics   |   T W I
This is my second tutorial on the painting of manes and tails! My previous one detailed how to draw chestnut manes and tails, and since the process is very different for black hair, I thought I’d make a whole new tutorial specific ...
Horse Graphics - How to Draw Scars Using Photoshop
19th Aug 2012   |   Graphics   |   T W I
Ever wondered how to draw scars on an equine, if you're looking for a a battle-weary impact, but don't want to draw gore? This tutorial will cover the process of painting scars onto a horse, using very little but our good old phot ...
Photoshop - How to Give a Black Horse White Facial Markings
27th Jul 2012   |   Graphics   |   T W I
Ever wanted to give a horse facial markings, like stars or snips, but don’t know how? Today we are going to learn how to change the color of a horse’s whole face, to make the bald face marking. This tutorial should be applicable t ...
Unicorn Moon - Part 3 of 3
27th Jun 2012   |   Graphics   |   T W I
Exactly one month later, Ophaile’s lunar cycle became Full Moon. Sharnyi, the moon of the Kelpies, became Dark Moon, invisible in the sky. The two moons cycled exactly opposite of each other, so once a year, Sharnyi would disappea ...
Unicorn Moon - Part 2 of 3
12th Jun 2012   |   Graphics   |   T W I
The girl cried out, pleading with the people on shore. Though no words formed, her mouth choked with salt water, it was clear that she was begging for succor. Pendant’s teeth were clenched as he stared down at the dark, milling fo ...
Unicorn Moon - Part 1 of 3
6th Jun 2012   |   Graphics   |   T W I
Though the night was cold, the unicorn stood proudly on the hill overlooking the village below. The wind was chilly so high up and it whipped the unicorn’s mane and tail, dark as the night itself, back and forth like so many banne ...
  View All News by T W I
©2002 - 2022   PonyBox LLC Create Account Advertise Terms Privacy Contact Us
291 Members Online 271,488 Registered Members 3,126 News Articles 14,122,486 Unique News Article Views 334,637,876 Website Views