How To Blur The Edges Of A Photo In Photoshop

There are a few different ways you can blur the edges of a photo in Photoshop. Depending on the look you’re going for, you can use blur filters or solid colors to create the effect. Either way, the process doesn’t take long, and a blur can be added in no time. Here are three different ways to blur the edges of a photo in Photoshop!

How To Blur Edges In Photoshop – 3 Easy Ways

#1. How To Blur The Edges Of A Photo With Color

For this first blur effect, you’ll learn how to create a soft-colored blur around the edge of a photo. This option is best if you want to isolate your subjects and create a dreamy effect with fewer distractions.

Depending on whether you want to create a circular or rectangular blur, you’ll need to pick a different Marquee tool.

For a circular blur, select the Elliptical Marquee tool.

For a rectangular blur, select the Rectangular Marquee tool.


In this example, I want to create a circular blur around my subject, so I’ll choose the Elliptical Marquee.

In the tool settings bar at the top of your screen, set a feather radius to dictate the blur. If you aren’t familiar with feather, try to think of it as the softness of an edge. The more feather you have, the softer (or more blurred) your edge will look.

For a more subtle blur to the edge of your photo, try a radius of 25px.

If you want to add a very heavy blur, try a radius of 75px or higher.


With your feather radius set, click and drag out your Marquee tool around your subject. Remember, anything outside of this selection will turn into a solid color! For my photo, I will create the selection around my subject’s body.

You’ll now have a black and white dotted line to represent the selection. These are also known as ‘marching ants.’ At this point, it’s hard to imagine how blurred the edges of your photo will look. Luckily you can preview the selection by pressing Q.

This will bring up a quick mask to show you what your selection will look like. Anything red will not be visible in the final image. For now, you mainly want to focus on how the edges of the selection look.


Now ask yourself if this will be enough blur for the edge of your photo. If not, consider a new feather radius and draw a new selection to try again.

If you’re happy with it, it’s time to add this selection to a layer mask! Hide the quick mask by pressing Q again and select your image layer in the layers panel.

Next, add a layer mask by clicking on the layer mask icon.


At this point, you’ll have successfully added a blur to the edges of your photo. Now it’s time to choose the color around your background!

Go up to Layer > New Fill Layer > Solid Color.


Rename the layer to anything you’d like and click OK.


Now choose a color to have as your background. For now, I’ll choose white, but you can change this at any time!


With your new color fill layer created, drag it below your image layer to complete the blur effect.

– The Result


This technique is an easy way to add a blur to the edges of a photo in Photoshop using the Marquee tool and a layer mask. For a more isolated and dreamy effect, the colored border definitely will do the trick! Depending on whether you used the Elliptical or Rectangular Marquee tool, you will end up with a totally different result.

#2. How To Blur The Edges Of A Photo With Filters

In this second method, you’ll learn how to blur the edges of a photo in Photoshop with a gaussian blur filter. This filter applies a general blur across the whole image, but you can refine it with the help of layer masks.

Select the image you want to blur the edges of in your layers panel.

Next, convert it to a smart object by right-clicking and selecting ‘convert to smart object.’

To add your blur effect, go up to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur.

Set a blur radius that fits the look you’re going for. If you want to have a heavier blur around the edge of your photo, set the radius higher. Since I want a mild blur, I’ll set a radius of 30px. Click OK to commit to your changes.

Now you’ll have a blur covering the entire photo, so how can you make it only affect the edges? That’s where the smart object comes in!


If you take a look at your layers panel, you’ll now see filters underneath the image layer with a smart filters layer mask. This layer mask is the key to isolating the blur to the edges of your photo.

Click on the smart filters layer mask and select your gradient tool (G).


Make sure you’re using a ‘foreground to transparent‘ gradient and have black set to your foreground color.


Lastly, make sure you’re using a radial gradient for the best result.

With the smart filters layer mask selected, click and drag out a gradient around your subject. This will feather the blur and limit it to the edges of your photo! You can go back and adjust this at any time with your smart filters layer mask.


If you need to adjust the blur intensity, just double click on ‘gaussian blur’ under your image layer. This will open up the gaussian blur adjustment window and allow you to set a new radius.

– The Result


This is another excellent option to blur the edges of a photo in Photoshop. Rather than using color to blur around your subjects, you use a gaussian blur to add a more natural look.

#3. How To Blur A Single Edge Of Your Photo

In some situations, you may not want to blur every edge of your photo. Luckily, you can quickly isolate a blur to specific edges with a slightly different method. Let’s go over how to do this with both the color and gaussian blur options!

– With Color

Create a new color fill layer by going to Layer > New Fill Layer > Solid Color. Rename the layer if you wish and click OK.

Now choose a color you want to show behind the blurred edges of your photo. In this case, I’ll choose white once again.


With the color fill layer created, drag it underneath your image layer in the layers panel.

Select your image layer and add a layer mask.

Grab your gradient tool by pressing and select a foreground to transparent gradient. Make sure you’re using a linear gradient, and your foreground color is set to black.


Click on your layer mask and now click and drag your gradient out from the edge you want to blur. You can continue this as many times as you’d like until you get the blur effect you’re looking for!


– With Gaussian Blur

Convert your image layer to a smart object by right-clicking and selecting ‘convert to smart object.’

Add a gaussian blur to your image by going to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur. Set the radius to suit the style you’re going for.

With your blur created, click on your smart filters layer mask and press Command + I (Mac) or Control + I (PC) to invert it. The layer mask will now be black, meaning your blur will be completely invisible.

Grab your gradient tool by pressing G and select a ‘foreground to transparent’ gradient. Set your foreground color to white and choose a linear gradient.


With your smart filters layer mask selected, click and drag out from an edge of your photo to add a blur. Continue to add the blur to other edges to suit the look you’re going for!



There are a few different ways you can blur the edges of a photo in Photoshop. Fortunately, all the methods we discussed here are straightforward and can be done in just a couple of minutes. Even if you’re brand new to Photoshop, adding a blur to the edges of a photo is a great way to get familiar with layer masks, smart filters, and the gradient tool in Photoshop!

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– Brendan 🙂

Article By

Brendan Williams

Hey, I'm Brendan! I'm a professional photographer and photo retoucher who has spent the majority of his career shooting or retouching outdoor lifestyle and social media campaigns for brands like G-Adventures, xoxo Bella, P&G, Fitbit, Chevy, Tourism California, and more. You can view my photography portfolio here.

These days I primarily focus my efforts on this site, creating guides and tutorials that I wish I had earlier in my career. Each week I publish new tutorials on Photography, Photoshop, Lightroom, and Canva to help you unlock new skills and bring your creativity to new levels! Everything you learn here is backed by real experience, so you can finally skip the fluff and focus only on what matters.

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