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Blur Filters

  • Most of these do exactly what they say - in different amounts. The video shows you how each works.
  • The Blur Gallery is new to CS6, and is pretty cool:
  • Field Blur lets you make as many adjustable areas of blur and clarity as you want. This is cool for isolating sharp parts of an image for drama.
  • Iris Blur lets you make adjustable areas of blur that can be altered in shape. Similar to Field Blur but with additional shape control.
  • Tilt/Shift blur allows you to set an adjustable plane of focus and set the amount of depth of field and blur you want. This gives a three dimensional effect to your image.

Blur Filters

Lecture Slides are screen-captured images of important points in the lecture. Students can download and print out these lecture slide images to do practice problems as well as take notes while watching the lecture.

  • Intro 0:00
  • Lesson Overview 0:07
  • Blur & More Blur 0:54
    • Blur: Average
    • Blur
    • Blur More
  • Gaussian Blur 3:18
    • Gaussian Blur
  • Box, Lens, and Shape Blur 4:42
    • Box Blur
    • Lens Blur
    • Shape Blur
  • Motion and Radial Blur 8:39
    • Motion Blur
    • Radial Blur
  • Smart and Surface Blur 10:04
    • Smart Blur
    • Surface Blur
  • The New Blur Gallery 14:05
    • Tilt/Shift Blur: Demonstration 1
    • Tilt/Shift Blur: Demonstration 2
    • Field Blur
    • Iris Blur

Transcription: Blur Filters

Hi everyone, Mike Brown back with you, welcome back to'S Adobe Photoshop CS6 course.0000

In this lesson, we're going to talk about the Blur filters--there's so many of them and they work differently and we're kind of get this straightened out for you so you become fairly clear on what's useful, what might be useful and what is just kind of so-so.0007

Under the Filter menu, all the way down in the middle to Blur, you can see we have 3, 6, 9, 14 different Blur filters; the first 3 Field, Iris and Tilt Shift are brand new for CS6, and they allow you a lot of creative control in creating some effects on your images.0023

We're going to deal with those last under the blur gallery, quite cool, and we're going to deal with all the rest of these very quickly, and I'm going to start with one I didn't even list and that's the Average filter, and I'm going to do that with this image right here.0045

Filter, Blur, Average--what it's going to do, it's going to take the average color of the image, and in this case it's probably going to be neutral gray because it's got the entire range of color, and fill the image with it, and that's what it did--became neutral gray.0062

I don't know what that's useful for--you can fill your image with neutral gray any time you want, but that's what the Average filter does so we can check that one off the list and not deal with it.0078

So the next we'll look at Blur and Blur more--we'll go back and use this particular image again, and let's zoom up on a small section here...and this should work out pretty good--let's get it even further so you guys can see it.0088

What we're going to do is go to Filter, Blur, and we're going to go just to the Blur filter, and if you look especially right over in this area here where the green hedges are, I'm going to undo it--there's where it was, there's where it is--it just kind of takes an edge off of everything--really doesn't blur too much.0107

And one of the things that it does do, is it's blurring by's leaving the edges and looking for flat areas of color, so if you'll notice the--I don't know if they're Stop signs or what they are, but look right here at the sign and the edge of the sign.0127

You see it stays relatively sharp, although if you look in the street area, it blurred out, so areas of high contrast maintain.0148

It's kind of a slight noise reduction methodology.0158

If we apply the Blur more filter, does the same thing except does it more and now we're getting into the area where it does have a little bit of effect on the edging because it's a greater amount than the other one, but they are non-controllable, you just apply them, and I would suggest maybe using the Blur filter like I said for maybe if you need to knock a little softness in and knock off just a little grain.0161

That works, OK, that takes care of the Blur and Blur more filters.0191

Gaussian Blur does not look at the contrast--it looks at every pixel, and it smoothly blurs everything and this is a filter that you use a heck of a lot, especially when we're doing the portrait retouching--if you remember my portrait lesson where we take the face, Gaussian Blur it, drop the opacity so you begin to see a little texture in the skin, and then using you layer mask.0199

Paint back in the eyes, nose, mouth and areas, and it gives you nice, smooth skin.0226

Filter, Blur, Gaussian Blur, and you control this purely by the radius, there's no blur and as it goes up, it progressively blurs more and more and it blurs uniformly everything--you notice how the edges of that sign are blurred equally to the roadway and the other stuff in the picture.0231

The more we get, the more blurred it gets--nice, smooth blur--this is probably the one you use most of the time, and it's just progressively more and more until you want to blow it out.0257

That takes care of our favorite, the Gaussian Blur, I use it a is my favorite one--I give it a two checkmark rating.0269

Box, Lens and Shape Blur--we're going to use...where is my tif?0283

There it is...this is a wonderful image by the way, this is an image from the Hubble telescope, and what you see in this absolute less than 1/8 of the size of the area of the moon as you see it in the sky are 5000 galaxies.0291

Every pinpoint of light in here is a galaxy, somewhere in the universe, makes you feel very small, but we're going to use this as a sample...let me see if I can find my...there's the one I wanted right there.0309

If you can see it on your screen I'm up at a high resolution, you can see there's a little noise in here--this was a digital photo taken by the satellite, and if we apply the Box Blur...what you'll begin to see as we get down small (and let's go to 2)...0328

I'm going to kick OK, and I'm going to put the curves on this thing so that you can actually see what it did.0352

Notice the shape of the pixel areas--the little hotspots, it's just what it says; Box Blur.0361

All of the little detail areas are square shaped, and if we come up more you'll be able to see that the dimmer ones--everything is square shaped, that's what this one does.0368

So we'll undo that, and go back to our title, that's the Box--Lens and Shape are very, very similar, let's go back to our tif...where is it, where is it?0383

There it is, and this time we're going to use Filter, Blur--instead of the Box Blur we'll use Lens Blur, and now I think we can zoom this up in here so we can see it, there we go.0397

We're going to drop this back to a triangle, and drop the radius back and you can begin to see as it blurs, that what it creates are triangular shapes with a specular highlights.0414

You can make that a square, which happens to be in the diamond shape (let's see if we can find some brighter ones, there we go) you can see that they're little diamonds, and we can go to pentagons, and let's go ahead and click OK on the pentagons, and I'm going to show you exactly what that looks like by doing the curves again...0430

And blowing them up enough that you can identify the pentagon shapes--you can see that right in here--there's your pentagons.0454

So that takes care of...the Box and Lens and the Shape Blur--we'll do that one too, let's go back to that tif, and let's go Filter, Blur, Shape Blur--all of these do similar things.0464

In this case, we're going to use a heart, and let's use that...there we go...use the curves again, and you'll see that everything in the speculars now has the shape of a heart, and that would be by the way whatever shape you choose from your Shape menu or append with extra ones.0483

So that shows you what Box, Lens and Shape Blur do--they just use the specular highlights as specific shapes.0508

Motion and Radio Blur...pretty simple...knock the History panel.0519

Filter, Blur, Motion Blur, this is what I make action automotive composites--I use this all the time, it just linearly blurs and you can control the direction and the amount of the linear blur to create motion.0526

The Radio Blur allows you to either do spin or zoom and three different quality levels--use best if you can, and the amount, and you can also adjust the point from which it emits.0546

Let's try to...this is kind of empirical--you cannot see where this point is going so I'm kind of guessing that that big Mexican flag would be right about there, and we're going to spin it a considerable number and see if it spins right around that point, so there's a Spin Blur, and let's go back and do the...0562

Zoom, and that was just a little low so we'll move it up a little bit, and you can emanate a zoom from a point--I use the zoom every now and then, I find that more useful that the Spin, and so there you have a quick demonstration of use of the Motion and Radio Blurs.0585

Smart and Surface Blur, let's go to this image right here--this is a famous jazz pianist--his name is Benny Green, a friend of mine shot this for his latest album cover, and what we're going to do here--let's go ahead and quickly sharpen this just slightly.0604

Overlay, Filter, Other, High Pass--my favorite method, pop it, and we're--oh that's too much, I'm just going to delete it, we're sharp enough as it is.0627

Alright, now what I'd like to do is demonstrate like I said the Smart and Surface Blur--the Smart Blur filter allows you several controls supposedly to allow you to get different effects and different amounts from your blur.0641

To me, it does a very abstract blur--notice, it's hard to see right there, but look what it did to the face just by doing that adjustment there, it just made it more of a painterly feel, and I come back on the threshold down, and a little bit more radius and let's see what that does.0662

We'll render it...and very little effect, this one seems to have some very strange effects of flattening, I don't use it very often, but you can play with that one yourself and see.0685

Surface Blur however, seems to be quite good for just taking uniform areas and leaving edges alone--that's basically what it's doing--it's the opposite of the edge sharpening, this is blurring, but not affecting edges.0699

So we're going to go 3 levels up and let that render...and if you look at the surface of that wall, there was before and there's after--come back in, you see how it basically took the texture out and didn't hurt the edges, and of course with people it will do that on the skin, so you have to be careful with this one on skin.0720

Let me show you one more demonstration of that one, I think this is the one--here we go.0745

This filter is actually quite good for reducing noise in your image--here's a very noisy image, I had an ISO of 3200, it was very dark, so if we take on this one, Filter, Blur, Surface Blur, and we apply just a little bit--if you apply too much...0753

There we come right in there about a threshold of 6, maybe 7 even...and play with that a little bit and look what it did, I'll undo it.0778

You can see that it did a pretty decent job of pulling the noise back, and over here where we have detail in the windows, let's zoom it up...a little noise, and the noise is out--let's go ahead and try that one more with a different setting.0790

I like this one, let's go up to a radius of 5...and up to 8...there we go.0806

Now we'll come back up, and you can see significantly the noise is down, there's the noise, and there it's gone, but we come down with the detail here, noise is back, noise is gone and the detail stayed in the image, and we got a reasonable amount of noise reduction, so the Surface Blur filter seems to work well for that.0817

Now that takes care of the Smart filter and the Surface Blur.0842

I'm not that...enamored of the Smart filter, but if you play with it maybe you can make it work for you.0847

Out of all of these series of filters, personally, the Gaussian Blur, and the Surface Blur, and the Motion and Radio Blur are the most useful filters that I can see in here.0854

Now let's take a look at the Field, Iris and Tilt Shift, let's start with the Tilt Shift.0869

What this enables you to to keep a plane of focus and adjust the depth of field, just like you were able to in the old time view cameras, so we're going to go to Filter, Blur, Tilt Shift and up will come the Blur gallery which has all 3 of these and we're on the Tilt Shift--it popped a point with this pin...0876

And we will click the center and move it right on to the...statue base, and we have two lines that are solid lines--you see that one and that one, they are the area of clarity between those, and you can rotate the thing by going outside the lines...0904

Grabbing right on the white dots, and slight rotation to align it in whatever direction--let's go this way so it's more prominent, we're going to go right in line with that street, right...there.0928

Up that street, you can still move it around, this little circle, you can actually increase the amount of blur and decrease the amount of blur by turning the circle.0948

You can spread the area of sharpness if you want, one line at a time, and what this is, is the transition from sharp to blur, and the gradual or sharper transition is by...or the feather if you will, is adjusted by the dashed line out.0960

If you want it to be more gradual, you move it out, if you want it to transition quickly, move it in, and you could also adjust the blur right here...and distortion as well--if you look on the outside there, no distortion down here, but as we bring it up you get some level of distortion in the blur as well.0982

And so that shows you--let's just click OK on that one--now down here, this is called Bouquet, Light Bouquet works on specular highlights, I'll show you this with another image in just a moment, but now you see--let's click OK, and apply it...and now you can see we've got that area of clarity...1009

And our blur or depth of field if you will, adjusted on either side, so let's undo that...I want to go back to the tif once again--where did that go, where did it go?1036

Right here, and we're going to take all of that out, and I'm going to go back to the blur gallery again...and we're going to put the Tilt Shift in this one...oops, it just applied it.1050

Filter, Blur, Tilt Shift, sorry about that...I'm just going to leave it across here, and I'm going to jack up the amount of blur...and get it down in the highlight areas, and now I'm going to show you how you can play with the lights.1069

These are the highlights--in other words, if you had a night time shot of a city, city lights in the background, let's just move that depth of field in tighter so you can see this...move it in tight, move the bottom in tight, there you go, now you can see the highlights.1087

We can add coloration into the speculars--notice at the bottom how the color's coming in, and they're becoming brighter, and we can also adjust that range of brightness on the...1106

And you can adjust exactly where it pulls, and so you can take an image of a night time shot and look what you can do with the blur, you can change the color, the intensity of all of the specular highlights, quite an interesting effect that you can pull using the Tilt Shift effect.1122

We'll cancel out of there, let's close out that image, and let's go back to this one--actually, I want to go to the guy in there--here we go.1141

This one is very interesting, we're going to go back to our Filter, Blur, and this one we're going to start and do Iris--actually we'll do Field Blur on this one.1153

We start with one pin, and if you notice my cursor is now a pin, and that pin is the area of blur, not the area of clarity--it is the blur area, and you notice right now, it's blurring everything and you go "what good is that?"1164

Well, hang tight, by the way the Bouquet could also be applicable here, we're just going to set another pin...and what we're going to do--let's say we want the M track type to be clear, we'll put that pin up here, and we'll reduce...the amount of blur to zero on that pin.1180

Then if we want this gentleman to be clear we'll put a pin on him and reduce the blur there, come down, put a second pin on his leg and reduce that blur, and now if we want to add blur, we'll come back over here, and add more blur in the background and progressively keep adding or subtracting pins to adjust the various areas...1209

To either blur, or sharpen, and that way what you're doing is just creating in essence a mask, and I'll show you a trick that's not in the book in just a moment...make sure he's un-blurred...and make sure his shoe is un-blurred with all these points, and there you have a series of pins and basically got him isolated and blurred the background.1238

If you want to see what you've done, the shortcut is M as in Michael for mask, M as in mask, and there's the actual mask that we created--the brighter areas of course are the blurred areas, and the darker areas are the areas that we have--and you can actually save the mask back to a channel, and up the quality level for output.1267

We're going to go--this is the revert, we're going to click OK, let it render for a we've got it and I want to go to our Channels panel, and there is the mask.1294

And if you needed to modify it, you could paint on the mask, so you can kind of--this is a different way of applying a mask and--you could make a mask and blur areas yourself, but this is way to nicely isolate this.1307

Let's go back to the open, that's where it was, and we just kind of honed in on the gentleman by blurring out specific areas of the image--kind of cool, huh?1320

That's your Iris filter...and now we want to do the--let's go to one more...which one do I have open here?1332

Ah, Benny...alright, we're going to do Benny Green again and this time we're going to go do the third one, we're going to go to the Filter, Blur and we'll do the Iris Blur.1344

Now what the Iris Blur is doing, if you notice, in this case it's--and we'll move it over here--see it's oval?1360

There's the pin, and again your adjustment for blur, outside, you can rotate this...and put it wherever you want--in this case, let's just isolate around Benny, and we're just going to grab a point and pull it in and we can reshape this thing, so that the area is just around...our person.1367

Oh, I put a second pin in there, I didn't want it, get this one back...and we'll just bring that out.1392

Now if you only want to move one point rather than pulling here and getting here--hold down your Option or Alt, and now I can control--supposed to be able to control just that one--it didn't work...1399

So we can also--oh I know, that's right, it's these points here that I can control individually, and once again, the main points are the primary area, and the outer points are where the blur feather is, we can adjust that out.1415

And now we've basically applied a blur--we can increase it if we want to...and kind of vignette by blur our image--we're going to go ahead again, the Bouquet is there but in this case it's not going to give us much on specular highlights I don't think, it's going to blow it out.1433

So we'll click OK...and when it renders in, let me show you; there's the shot, there's before, and there's after--we kind of vignetted the blur around him.1451

We could have added other areas of blur as well with this one, but you have more control with the Iris than you do with the Field.1465

So that gives you your blur gallery with Field Blur, which is circular areas...basically...circular pins...and we'll call them pins.1475

The Iris Blur with oval pins, and the Tilt Shift with depth of field.1494

OK, so now, there was a tour of the available blur filters in Photoshop CS6.1502