Add a Blurred Background to Your Photo with PicMonkey

Add a Blurred Background to Your Photo with PicMonkey
December 7, 2017 Gary Smith

Today’s photo editing lesson—blurry backgrounds. Start by taking a quick look at these two pictures.

Image of a woman without a blurred background, and with a blurred background made in PicMonkey.

The first one is good, but the second? That’s profile picture worthy!  Blurry backgrounds can be a powerful tool in your photo editing arsenal. A blurred background diminishes distractions and puts the focus on the subject of your photo. Also, it gives your picture a professional look without (necessarily) having to use a professional camera.

PicMonkey offers many different blur effects, but to start, we’ll show you how to blur a background using the Soften effect. These steps describe how to add blur using PicMonkey on your desktop browser, but you’ll also find a pocket-sized version of Soften in the PicMonkey mobile app and the steps are pretty much the same. So choose your device, and give these steps a whirl.

How to get the blurred background effect

Ever heard of “wax on, wax off”? With Soften, it’s “blur on, erase off”.

1. Hover over Edit on the PicMonkey homepage and choose your photo’s location. Select your photo, and then begin your blur-tastic photo editing.

2. Click the Effects tab (the wand icon) to see a list of effects. Click the Soften effect to blur the entire photo.

3. Erase the blurriness off of the parts of the photo that you want to remain crystal clear. To do that, make sure the paintbrush icon and the Original button on the Paint palette are both selected (they should be by default). Use your mouse to carefully erase the effect off of your subject.

4. Adjust the Softness slider until you are happy with the amount of blur. Moving the slider to the right will increase blurriness, and moving it left with reduce the blurriness. If it’s still not blurry enough for you, click Apply, then repeat the process one more time.

5. Click the Save button to save your image to Hub. If you want to save the file to your computer, click Export. Now your photo is done and ready to share!

Focal Soften, or ‘the even faster way’

Image of a dog with a blurred background, made with PicMonkey.

Maybe you just want a super quick blurred background, without having to erase the effect off of your subject. In that case, Focal Soften (and its cousin, Blur, in the PicMonkey mobile app) is just what you need. Simply move the focal target to the area you want to focus on and adjust the sliders. There ya go! Custom artistry in seconds.

More artsy blur effects

Wanna have even more fun blurring your photos? Of course you do! You’ll find a couple other blur effects in the Effects tab, in addition to Soften and Focal Soften. Put them to work and make unique, eye-catching, blur-tiful photos.

A sparkler with a blurred background, made with the Bokeh Shapes effect in PicMonkey.

Bokeh Shapes is an effect that helps you get the whimsical, gorgeous look of bokeh in your photos, no fancy camera tricks required. Bokeh is Japanese for “blur”, but in photography it refers to out-of-focus spots of sparkling light. Bokeh is a great way to enrich a nighttime or sunset photo, and make you look like a photography pro.

A running shoe with a blurred background, made with PicMonkey's Focal Zoom effect.

Our Focal Zoom effect creates a sense of motion and immediacy, and it’s ridiculously eye-catching. Just be careful not to go overboard with this effect, or you could end up with photo that’s more dizzying than enticing.

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Gary writes for PicMonkey as the illustrious and ever-resourceful copywriter intern. When he’s not drafting and publishing, Gary enjoys sailing on Lake Washington, and making artisanal soap.