How to Use Iris Blur in Photoshop

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Photoshop CS6 brings new features in the Blur Gallery that give you the control to easily add precise blur effects to your photos. In this brief tutorial we’ll be looking specifically at the Iris Blur, which allows you to determine what areas should be sharp and what areas should be blurred.

To demonstrate the Iris Blur I will be using a photo from EJP Photo that is available on Flickr. Here is the photo.

Before working with blurs I recommend saving a copy of your photo. To get started, open the photo in Photoshop CS6 and go to Filter > Blur > Iris Blur

You should now see the Iris Blur controls on the photo. There are a few key components. The large oval is what determines which part of the photo will be sharp and which parts will be blurred. The center of the oval will be sharp and outside of the oval will be blurred. You can drag the center point of the oval to any part of the photo. The four circular pins inside the oval determine where the blur starts. The blur will start at the pins and it will blur gradually until it hits the oval. The pins can be moved, which gives you more precise control. The adjustment ring at the center will determine how much blur is applied.

The first thing I am going to do is more the oval down. This is done by simply clicking inside the oval and dragging it.

Next, I’m going to expand the oval a little bit to increase the part of the photo that will be sharp. To do this, hover the cursor over the edge of the oval, then click and drag it out.

Next, I’m going to move the pins out just a little, which will start the blur closer to the edge of the oval. You can do this by clicking and dragging one of the pins. When you do it this way, all four of the pins will move the same distance from the center pin. If you want precise control of each pin, hold Alt/Opt when clicking on one of the pins and the others will stay in place while you move that one pin.

Next, I’m going to slightly increase the amount of the blur using the adjustment ring.

When you’re done, click the “ok” button at the top and the blur will be applied. The end result is something like this:

As a second example, I will be working with another photo that is available at Flickr, this one from Liz Kasameyer.

For this photo I’ll be moving an adjusting the oval to keep the woman sharp.

I’ll move the pin out towards the oval so her hand is totally in the sharp area.

Lastly, I’ll increase the blur just a little bit, and click ok. The end result:

I’d encourage you to experiment with Iris Blur on your own as you can certainly learn more about it just by trying it out for yourself. It’s a nice improvement in CS6 that gives designers and photographers added flexibility.

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