Adobe Photoshop CS6 makes photo editing easier and more intuitive. One of the reasons is the new features Photoshop offers—like the enhanced Blur Gallery, which now includes three new options: Iris Blur, Tilt-Shift Blur and Field Blur. These options are perfect for artists looking to highlight focal points in their photographs.

BEFORE: Our Photo before the Field Blur effect has been applied.

Getting Great Results
Each Blur Effect has it’s own purpose. For this article, we’re going to teach you how to use Field Blur specifically.

Field Blur allows us to highlight a certain focal point in the image, like a person, for example. By doing this, you bring more attention to your subject. For a portrait photographer it’s a good way to “spotlight” your subject. It’s also handy to bring a foreground object off the background.

Follow our steps and you’ll be an expert in using Photoshop’s Field Blur Effect in no time.

1. Open Your Image In the Menu Bar at the very top of the screen, select your file and open it. Your image will now appear in Photoshop’s workspace.


2. Duplicate the Image Let’s play it safe by making a copy of the image we’re about to edit. This way, if you make a mistake while editing, you’ll still have a copy of the original image.

Complete this step by using the Layers panel. (To display the Layers panel, under the Window option of the Menu, make sure there’s a check mark beside Layers, or press the F9 key.) Right click on the background layer and select Duplicate Layer. An exact copy of the image should appear above the Background layer.

3. Open the Field Blur Tool Click on the Filter option in the Menu Bar. From the Filter menu, select Blur and then the Field Blur option.


Your workspace will look slightly different with two new windows on the right side of the Photoshop screen – Blur Tools and Blur Effects.

After opening the Blur tool, the entire image will be blurred and a pin icon will display in the center of the image.

Blurred with Default Pin

4. Understanding Pins In our image, we want to create greater emphasis on the student. But before we do that, we need to understand the functions of the pin icon.

The pin icon in the center of the image represents the strength and location of blur pixels. Blur strength can be altered in two ways:

Option A: Increase or decrease pixel value by turning the outer dial of the pin clockwise (to the right) or counterclockwise (to the left). Clockwise will increases the pixels, while counterclockwise decreases the pixels.

Option B: Increase or decrease pixel value using the Blur Tools window on the right side of the screen. Sliding the controller to the left decreases the pixels, while the right increases the pixel value.

The location of the pin is simply achieved by dragging the icon with your mouse.

5. Creating Focus Returning back to the image, the eyes will be the main focus. We begin by dragging the default pin to one of the eyes. Because the eyes should not be blurred, decrease the blur strength by dropping the pixel value to zero. Repeat the same action for the other eye by selecting the eye with your mouse. Another pin will appear. Drop the value to zero.

6. Blurring the Background To blur the background, create new pins (following the same steps) in areas that need to be blurred.

In our image, we’re using seven pins to cover the areas:


The four pins to the left of the student have been set to seven pixels, as well as the pin located on his shirt. The other background two pins (one in his hair and one near his ear) have been set to the value of two. Although we have determined the focal point of the image, the features nearest to his eyes should still be visible.

AFTER: Our Photo after the Field Blur effect has been applied.

7. Finalize Your Edits
Click OK at the top of the Photoshop CS6 screen.

(Warning! Make sure these changes are what you want, because once you apply the edits they cannot be reversed. After making and saving your edits, you can only add to the image.)

If you duplicated the original image, you can simply delete the edited layer and duplicate the background image again.

If you’re unhappy with the image, simply press Cancel and your edits will not be saved. Practice makes perfect!

Becoming a Photoshop Pro
Get hands-on experience and learn how to use Adobe Photoshop CS6 and other Adobe Creative Suite products in one of Digital Media Academy’s Photography courses.