(Cross-posted at GIMPAuthority.com. Check us out for news, tutorials and reviews of GIMP related stuff)
Often times we have a lot of extraneous detail in our images that don't add to the overall image, but just distract the eye. In order to draw the viewer to what we want them to focus on, we can blur out those elements that aren’t important.
This is one of those looks that could easily be done in the camera, but if you are using stock or someone else’s image, you can’t control it. Basically what we are referring too here is called depth of field. The shallower your depth of field is, the smaller the area in your image that is in focus. Conversely, the larger your depth of field, more of your image is in focus.
Let’s start with this image of a padlock on an old door with peeling paint. We want to focus on the padlock, not on all of the white door around it.
1. First we duplicate the layer, through the Layer menu – duplicate layer or through the keyboard. On my system, the keyboard is through Command+J.
2. On the duplicate layer, make a selection around area you want to keep sharp Go under Select menu, and choose feather. I used a value of 172.0 to give it a very soft edge.
3. Select Layer from the menu and choose Mask -> Add Layer Mask
4. In the window that appears click the Selection option. Check the Invert mask box and click the Add button to add your mask. Now hide this layer to show your original image.
5. Go back to your original layer, and select Filter from the menu, and then Blur -> Gaussian Blur. The Gaussian Blur window appears and you need to set your Blur Radius. The higher the radius the more blurred your image will be. For a uniform blur, keep the Horizontal and Vertical values chained. For a blur in one direction or the other, unchain the values, and set the direction you want to be dominant to a higher value.
Be careful of how high you set the blur level, though. Too high may result in an unnatural look to your image. Here I chose a value of 50.0 for both H and V to get a more natural transition.
6. Unhide your masked layer, and the part of the image we want to focus on, the padlock will be in sharp detail which fades to a blurry door around it. Save your image and you're done!
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Use Blurring and Focus to Draw Attention
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