How to Add Motion Blur to a Photo Using Photoshop

Motion blur can make your main subject appear frozen in time. Adding it in Photoshop is simple, as you will discover in this article.


Motion blur photography is a great way to create dynamic images. Usually an image can only capture a single moment in time. However, with the help of motion blur, the photographer can tell quite a story. They can show a busy street or a passing car. Not to mention, it looks cool.


But not everyone has a professional camera that can facilitate this effect. And even if you have a great camera on your phone, you might not know how to create motion blur with it. This tutorial will teach you how to add motion blur after the fact.


How to Add Motion Blur in Photoshop

Photoshop has a variety of blur options. You can use the software to hide faces or text, or you can blur the background to make a person stand out. In this guide, we will focus specifically on motion blur to create dynamic images.

Create motion blur for the background

First, we’ll show how to create a blurred background. In the example we have chosen below, you can see that the cyclist is actually stationary. With the help of motion blur we will make it look like it is going fast, with the background scrolling.

  1. Open your image in Photoshop.
  2. In the Layers right menu, click on the lock symbol to convert the background to a layer.
  3. Go to Select > Object.
  4. Hurry O use the Quick selection tool whether you need to add or remove pixels from the selection (Alt and clicking will remove sections).
  5. Go to Select > Invert.
  6. Take Filter > Blur > Motion Blur.
  7. In the pop-up window, you can change the Distance so that the movement appears more quickly. With Angleyou can adjust the movement if the subject goes down or up.
  8. Hurry OKAY so what Select > Deselect to admire the results.

Another common way to use this effect is when a person is standing in front of a train or bus. Even if the vehicle was still in the picture, you can make it look like it’s moving.

Create motion blur for motion

In some situations, you may want to create a more complex motion blur. For example, when several movements occur at the same time. Or when you only want to blur to affect a small part of the image.

In the following example, we wanted the image to feel like the dancer is throwing up the skirt in real time instead of being a perfectly still image. For this, we used the Path Blur tool:

  1. As before, open your image and click on the to block in Layers.
  2. Right click on the layer and choose Convert to smart object.
  3. As in the first example, you will need to go to Filter > Blur Gallery > Blur Path.
  4. Hurry Wipe off to remove the automatically created blur.
  5. Click on the screen to create the direction you want the object to move. Double-click to complete the path. You can add as many lanes as you want if, for example, a person moves their head in one direction and their hands in the other direction. You can also curve the paths to create circular motion. In our example, we wanted to blur the skirt upwards.
  6. Hurry OKAY at the top of the screen.
  7. In the Layersclick it Smart filters.
  8. Go to the Brush tool. Change the Hardness to 30% and also enlarge the size.
  9. Make sure the brush color is black.
  10. Review the parts of the image where you want to stay sharp. In our case, we only wanted the skirt to appear blurry while the rest of the dancer remains motionless. So, we brushed her body, her feet, and the floor — and left the rest in motion blur.

You can play with this effect to add movement to a variety of situations. This is especially useful in cases where there was movement in real life, but the photo was taken with a fast shutter and appears to be completely still.

The beauty of motion blur

We hope this guide has given you all the information you need to add motion blur after the fact with Photoshop. You can see that even if photography isn’t your thing, you can create dynamic images that look professional. Or even as a photographer, you can play with images long after you’ve taken them.

Moreover, you can use this effect to produce unique and artistic images. If you add motion blur to unexpected parts of the image, it can look like something out of a horror movie or a fantasy novel.

Jack C. Nugent