Photoshop zoom action blurring effect tutorial
we’ll learn how to add some action and a sense of motion to a photo with a zoom blur effect. We’ll use Photoshop’s Radial Blur filter to add the initial blurring, then we’ll bring back some of the original image using a layer mask and the Gradient Tool. Not only is this a great (and popular) way to help bring an image to life, but the entire effect can be completed in less than five minutes once you’re comfortable with the steps.
Here’s the photo I’ll be using for this tutorial:
Here’s how it will look after adding the blur effect:
Let’s get started!
Step 1: Duplicate The Background Layer
The first step in creating our action zoom effect is to duplicate the Background layer so we can work on a separate copy of the image, which will allow us to bring back some of the original image later. With our photo newly opened in Photoshop, if we look in the Layers panel, we can see that we currently have one layer, the Background layer, which is the layer than contains our photo:
To duplicate the Background layer, go up to the Layer menu in the Menu Bar at the top of the screen, choose New, and then choose Layer via Copy. Or, for a faster way to duplicate a layer in Photoshop, use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+J (Win) / Command+J (Mac):
Either way you choose tells Photoshop to make a copy of the layer, and if we look again in the Layers panel, we can see that we now have two layers. The original Background layer is on the bottom, while a brand new layer named “Layer 1″ sits above it. If we look at the preview thumbnails to the left of the layer names, we can see that both layers contain the same image, which means we can now do whatever we want to the image on “Layer 1″ and the original photo will remain safe and unharmed on the Background layer below it:
Step 2: Apply The Radial Blur Filter
With “Layer 1″ selected in the Layers panel (it should be highlighted in blue), go up to the Filter menu at the top of the screen, choose Blur, and then choose Radial Blur:
This brings up Photoshop’s Radial Blur dialog box. The Radial Blur filter gives us a choice of two different types of blurring – Spin and Zoom. Since we’re creating a zoom effect, set the Blur Method option on the left side of the dialog box to Zoom. Directly below the Blur Method option is the Quality option. Choose Best for the quality.
We control how much blurring is applied to the image with the Amount option at the top of the dialog box. The higher the Amount value we select, the more blurring is applied. Drag the slider towards the right to increase the Amount value, or drag it towards the left to decrease it. Unfortunately, the Radial Blur filter doesn’t give us a preview of the effect, so you’ll probably need to try a few different values before you find the one that works best for your image. I’ll explain how to do that in a moment. I’m going to set my Amount value to 50, but the value you end up choosing may be different.
Finally, use the Blur Center box on the right side of the Radial Blur dialog box to set the point where the blur will appear to be “zooming” out from. Simply click inside the box to set the point. Again, there’s no way to preview the effect before running the filter so be prepared to try a few times before you get it right. I want my blur effect to appear to be coming from behind the girl’s head, so I’m going to click above and to the right of center in the box to set my point.
Click OK when you’re done to exit out of the dialog box. Depending on the speed of your computer, as well as the size and complexity of your image, you may need to wait a bit for Photoshop to finish applying the blur, so don’t panic if it seems like nothing is happening. After waiting a few seconds for Photoshop to do its thing, here is my image with the zoom blur applied:
If you’re not happy with your initial blur results and want to try again, first undo the filter by going up to the Edit menu at the top of the screen and choosing Undo Radial Blur. Or, for a faster way to undo the filter, use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+Z (Win) / Command+Z (Mac):
Then, to quickly bring the Radial Filter dialog box back up, press Ctrl+Alt+F (Win) / Command+Option+F (Mac). Choose a different Amount value and/or set a different point for the zoom effect in the Blur Center box, then click OK to run the filter again. You can undo and redo the filter as many times as you need until you get the results you want.
Now that we’ve applied the zoom blur, let’s bring back some of the initial image. We’ll do that next!
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