Making colorful blur effect picture with Photoshop

Yeah, this is a PS tutorial I make here.

In shortly, I am going to have you a tutorial that show you how to make a colorful blur effect picture with the Blur filter (Surface Blur and Smart Blur) and other nice features of Adobe PS (Photoshop) (I use version CS4), with a normal photo I took today. OK, below is the final effect:

Surface Blur

Surface Blur + Smart Blur

And here is the original one:
magazine time with sunshine

You can download the original PSD file or learn the tutorial step by step.

OK, let’s do it step by step.

  1. Open the original photo in PS, and change the layer name background to original. then right-click that layer, select Duplicate Layer.


  2. on the new duplicate layer, change the name to original-01 right-click it and select Convert to Smart Object.

    Why should I do this?
    (1) Because I can protect the original photo from being un-wanted modified and can’t go back if you saved the file and close it.
    (2) I can apply any filter on this Smart Object layer with Smart filter way, something like Layer Style. then you can see the value and modify them in anytime, and project the original photo, also.


  3. create a new Curves fill layer for adjusting the contrast of the photo. Click the Create the new fill layer or adjustment layer button on the bottom of Layer Panel, and select Curves to create a new Curves adjustment layer. Then set the value as the picture shows below (the value depends on the actual contrast of the photo you’re working on).



  4. Wow! The best exciting step here. Now make sure the original-01 layer is active, then go to Filter menu -> Blur -> Surface Blur. Set the Radius and Thresold values as the second picture show below. (the values depends on the actual photo you’re working on.) then click OK.



    So far you finish the steps shows above, you should get the effect looks like this:

  5. OK, let us make that colorful. Click the Create the new fill layer or adjustment layer button on the bottom of Layer Panel, and select Gradient to create a new Gradient fill layer on the Curves Adjustment layer and the original-01 layer. Then set the values as the picture shows below:


    The gradient values from left to right: #ff6e02, #fcff00 (with Location: 50%), #ff6e02.

    You can change this gradient fill layer name to Gradient Fill-colorful or something you like, set the Blend mode of this layer to: Overlay, Opacity 45%.

OK, it’s done! The final effect right here:

Want to step further, let’s make some more fun with the Blur Filter. Below is the final effect I use Smart Blur filter to continually work on the Surface Blur effect picture:

Let me show you how to get it done step by step.

  1. of course, based on the Surface Blur effect picture we’ve done above, make sure the original layer is active, and right-click it to create a Duplicate Layer. Name it as original-sketch layer


  2. move original-sketch layer up on the original-01 layer we previous made above, and right-click to Convert to Smart Object.



  3. Select Filter menu -> Blur -> Smart Blur, set the values as the picture shows below, then click OK.



  4. Last step! Set the Blend Mode to: overlay, Opacity 80%.


Yeah, it’s done! Take a look at the final effect:

Well, Blur Filter is very smart and powerful, I think you could make something creative with it, just do some try, it’s fun!

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