Motion blur: how to use layers, filters and masks to create a sense of speed

    | Photoshop Tutorials | Tutorials | 16/06/2014 00:01am

    Motion blur, which makes a subject look like it’s moving quickly, has become a familiar effect in photos and movies – even though it doesn’t exist in real life.

    Motion blur: how to use layers, filters and masks to create a sense of speed

    Motion blur appears when a camera exposure is long enough for the subject to move across the picture frame, meaning the light coming from the subject hits the lens several times – causing the tell-tale blur effect to show in your picture.

    Motion blur may not be real, but it’s a useful way of suggesting speed or movement in your images. You can choose to set your shutter speed to create motion blur when you take your shot, turning any moving subject into an impressionistic streak of colour and tone.

    However, getting the balance right between blurring the subject and not totally obscuring its details might require some trial and error – and sometimes the subject might not be around long enough for you to capture the shot just as you’d like it.

    SEE MORE: Raw Images: 10 tips every photographer must know before ditching JPEG

    Add your own blur
    In-camera motion blur is always going to give the rest-looking result, but if you weren’t able to achieve this, you can still introduce motion blur, using Photoshop Elements and any shot where the shutter speed was fast enough to capture all the detail of the subject.

    In this workshop, we’ll show you how to make Photoshop Elements’ blur effects match the perspective of the train in our example image, so that the streaks of computer-generated motion blur flow in the appropriate direction.

    You’ll then learn how to apply brush tips to the blurred layer’s mask, so that you can selectively reduce the blur intensity to reveal details, such as the driver and the engine’s ID number.

    We’ll also demonstrate how to modify layer masks to help you composite in extra objects, so you can add foreground interest and extra colour to the scene.

    And we’ll use blending modes to add plumes of steam to help unify the separate elements in the composite image.

    SEE MORE: Blend modes – the 10 best blends for photographers (and how to use them)

    How create motion blur in Photoshop: steps 1-3

    How create motion blur in Photoshop: step 1

    01 Open the start file
    Download our start files and follow along! Open motion blur_before01.jpg. In the Layers palette, double click on the Background layer’s thumbnail to unlock it. Grab the Magic Wand tool from the Tools panel’s Select section. In the Tool Options bar, set Tolerance to 20. Tick Contiguous. Click to select the bland white sky.

    SEE MORE: Panning – how the pros capture motion (and the best settings to use)

    How create motion blur in Photoshop: step 2

    02 Smooth the edge
    The edge looks a little jagged, so we need to smooth it. Choose Select>Inverse. Click the Refine Edge button in the Tool Options bar. Set View to On Black. Tick Smart Radius. Set Radius to 2.9 pixels. Set Feather to 1.7. Set Output to ‘New layer with layer mask’. Click OK.

     SEE MORE: Photoshop Layers Demystified – a beginner’s guide to smarter photo editing

    How create motion blur in Photoshop: step 3

    03 Modify the mask
    Grab the Brush tool. In the Tool Options bar, choose a Hard Round tip from the Brush Preset picker. Set Size to 35. Set the foreground colour to white. Click on the layer mask. Spray white strokes to restore missing edges. Spray a black tip to hide unwanted details like the background lamp.

    SEE MORE: Shutter blending: how to combine images taken at different shutter speeds

    Top Tip
    To save room, some tools share a space in the Tools panel. When you look for the Magic Wand in step 1, you may find it’s not the currently visible icon in the bottom-right box in the Select section.

    You can click the active tool (such as Quick Selection or Selection Brush), then pop down to the Tool Options bar.

    Here you’ll find a Magic Wand icon to click on. Alternatively toggle through all the selection tools in the Magic Wand’s space using the handy A keyboard shortcut.

    How create motion blur in Photoshop: steps 1-3
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    How create motion blur in Photoshop: steps 13-15
    How create motion blur in Photoshop: steps 16-18


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    Posted on Monday, June 16th, 2014 at 12:01 am under Photoshop Tutorials, Tutorials.

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