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How To Effectively Blur Horse Manipulations
 By T W I   •   20th Jun 2012   •   4,983 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  •  4,293 views
 
Anabel6931  
Helped me alot!
  Jun 21, 2012  •  4,524 views
 
Double Spur Ranch  
great article and great job!
  Jun 21, 2012  •  4,297 views
 
HITW  
Yay Twi! I like this. ^^ Incredibly useful I think.
  Jun 22, 2012  •  4,495 views
 
Mystic56  
Awesome! I love your manipsXD
  Jun 22, 2012  •  4,657 views
 
Pink Fox Equestrian   
Very helpful.
Great!!

Thank you.
  Jun 22, 2012  •  4,313 views
 
MySweetButterfly  
Thanks! This is really useful!
  Jun 22, 2012  •  4,337 views
 
Horsie Luver  
Thank you!!! Really helped!!!
  Jun 27, 2012  •  4,328 views
 
MySweetButterfly  
Very detailed and informative. Great article!
  Jun 29, 2012  •  4,318 views
 
OklahomaBlessing  
Very helpful
  Jul 7, 2012  •  4,278 views
 
C H O S E N  
This is great, thanks :)
  53 days ago  •  4,312 views
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