How to Make the Background Blurry in GIMP

Blurring the background of an image in GIMP allows for a specific object to be the main focus and makes the image less cluttered. Two of the best methods for background blurring in GIMP are the blur tool and the Gaussian blur layer option.

How to Make the Background Blurry in GIMP

Read on to learn how to use these tools to remove your make your background blurry in GIMP.

How to Use Gaussian Blur Layers in GIMP

This method of blurring images in GIMP is ideal for your related requirements. It may take longer, but you get more control over the end results than with other methods. Once you’ve aced the process, it’s better and faster than undoing or re-brushing areas while using the blur tool.

To blur an image in GIMP using the Gaussian layer option, follow these steps:

  1. Open GIMP.
  2. Select an image to blur.
  3. From the bottom right, click on the “Layers” palette.
  4. Right-click on the layer and go to “Duplicate Layer.”
  5. Or press “Shift+Ctrl+D” on a PC or “Shift+Command+D” on a Mac.
  6. Name the layer Blur.
  7. With the new Blur layer selected, open “Filters.”
  8. Choose “Blur,” then “Gaussian Blur.”
  9. Move the “X and Y” sliders to set how much blur you want.
  10. Look at the results in the main window and hit “OK” if you’re happy.

You’ll now have a blurred image layer on top of the blurred image. Combine the Blur layer with a layer mask to control which parts of the image are blurred and which remain sharp. The layer mask option also makes it easy to create cool effects using gradients and mask editing.

Add a Layer Mask

To control which sections of the image are shown in the final image, add a “Layer Mask.” Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Go back to the “Layers” palette.
  2. Right-click on the new layer and select “Add Layer Mask.”
  3. Edit the “Initialize Layer Mask” option to “Black (full transparency.)

A layer mask is a black-and-white hidden layer on top of the current pixel layers. The white pixels will be 100% seen, but the black pixels will be 100% transparent. When the mask color is black, the blurred pixels on the new Blur layer become hidden, and the sharp image underneath is seen.

Then, set an ordinary paintbrush to white, and on the Blur layer mask, paint on the parts of the image that you want the blurred layer to show through. Mix in some grays to make a distant fade-out effect, and use a gradient to create a lens blur effect. To perfect the mask, right-click on the blurred layer and select “Show Layer Mask.”

How to Use the Blur Tool in GIMP

The blur tool in GIMP is the fastest way to blur backgrounds if you’re not fussed about precision or don’t have to isolate a specific object. What’s certain is you’ll be done in just a couple of brushstrokes.

There are three ways to find and use the blur tool in GIMP:

  • Click on the blur tool icon (looks like a water drop) located underneath the smudge tool in the GIMP toolbox.
  • Go to the menu options and select “Tools,” then “Paint Tools,” and “Blur/Sharpen.”
  • Activate the blur tool using the “Shirt + U” shortcut, which is the same for both PC and Mac.

You can customize your brush options once you’ve activated the blur tool. The “Convolve Type” needs to be on “Blur,” and to choose the blur effect strength, tweak the “Rate” setting on the bottom. Once you’ve got the perfect brush, go over the parts of the image you need to blur.

Using a large brush on high-resolution photos isn’t advisable as there’s a lag while moving your cursor as GIMP struggles to follow the movement. The layer option is a better choice for large files as it will maintain a consistent blur throughout with no overlapping of blur strokes or inconsistent blur patches.

The Different Blur Filters in GIMP

Here are some other filters that can also be used for image blurring in GIMP:

  • Mean curvature blur – a filter that uses mean curvature to create a blur effect while preserving the image’s edges.
  • Selective Gaussian blur – is a good option if you only want similar pixels blurred together.
  • Gaussian blur – this filter is the most popular choice and is the fastest method of blurring images in GIMP.
  • Median blur – is a filter that reduces image noise and scratches.
  • Pixelize blur – uses large blocks and is similar to how criminal images are blurred out on TV.
  • Tilable blur – is similar to Gaussian blur but wraps around an image’s edges.
  • Zoom motion blur – with this filter, you can blur in every direction surrounding a central point.
  • Circular motion blur – this filter blurs in a circular effect around a selected center.
  • Linear motion blur – this blur effect works according to the length, and the angle changes the direction of the blur movement.

What Is Image Blurring and Why Use This Feature?

To blur an image is to make it less sharp and reduce the contrast between adjoining pixels. Filters can blur images and modify pixel value within an image. Blurring softens an image’s sharp edges and details, which is useful, especially for an image’s background. Many people blur images in GIMP for these reasons:

  • To make the main subject grab attention: If there’s a central object in an image that you want to stand out from the background, the blur tool will make it the focal point.
  • Eliminate distractions: Some image backgrounds are too busy and distracting with unneeded elements. Burring the image background will eliminate distractions and make the image more appealing.
  • To add depth: Blurring a background can create a three-dimensional feel and add a sense of depth.
  • Hide confidential information: If there’s anything you don’t want anyone to see in the background of an image, blurring does a great job of hiding it.
  • For a shallow depth of field: This is great for portrait photos to make the subject stand out from the background.

Blur Backgrounds in Images With GIMP

Most people blur the background in images to hide private information, make the main subject stand out, or if the background is too distracting. GIMP has many options for doing so, including the median, circular motion, mean curvature, and tilable blur filters. The best and most popular tools for blurring in GIMP are the blur and Gaussian blur tools. The blur tool is the faster choice, but the Gaussian tool, coupled with a mask, allows for more selective and precise blurring in an image.

Have you ever blurred a background in GIMP? If so, did you use any of the different tools featured in this article? Let us know in the comments section below.

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