Blur Your Photo Background with PicMonkey

Today’s photo editing lesson — blurry backgrounds. Start by taking a quick look at these two pictures.

The first one is good, but the second? That’s profile picture worthy!  Blurry backgrounds can be a powerful tool in your photo editing arsenal. A blurred background diminishes distractions and puts the focus on the subject of your photo. Also, it gives your picture a professional look without (necessarily) having to use a professional camera.

PicMonkey offers many different blur effects, but to start, we’ll show you how to blur a background using the Soften effect. These steps describe how to add blur using PicMonkey on your desktop browser, but you’ll also find a pocket-sized version of Soften in the PicMonkey mobile app and the steps are pretty much the same. So choose your device, and give these steps a whirl.

How to get the blurred background effect

Ever heard of “wax on, wax off”? With Soften, it’s “blur on, erase off”.

1. Open an image in the PicMonkey editor.

2. Click the Effects tab (the wand icon)on the left to see a list of effects. Click the Soften effect to blur the entire photo.

3. You can erase the blurriness off of the parts of the photo that you want to remain crystal clear using the paintbrush on the Image palette.

4. Adjust the Softness slider until you are happy with the amount of blur. Moving the slider to the right will increase blurriness, and moving it left with reduce the blurriness. If it’s still not blurry enough for you, click Apply, then repeat the process one more time.

5. Your work auto-saves to Hub. If you want to save the file to your computer, click Download. Now your photo is done and ready to share!

Try the Focal Soften photo effect to focus on your subject

Maybe you just want a super quick blurred background, without having to erase the effect off of your subject. In that case, Focal Soften (and its cousin, Blur, in the PicMonkey mobile app) is just what you need. Simply move the focal target to the area you want to focus on and adjust the sliders. There ya go! Custom artistry in seconds.

More artsy blur photo effects to your background

Wanna have even more fun blurring your photos? Of course you do! You’ll find a couple other blur effects in the Effects tab, in addition to Soften and Focal Soften. Put them to work and make unique, eye-catching, blur-tiful photos.

Focal Black & White photo effect for a color contrast

Want a dramatic, arty outcome for a portrait? Then try the Focal Black & White photo effect, it will deliver a beautiful BW/color contrast. Adjust the Focal size slider to surround the subject you want to highlight—everything inside the circle will be black and white and in focus, while everything outside the circle will be blurred color. Swap the effect by checking the Reverse effect box.

Use Radiance photo effect to add rays of sunshine to your pic

Say you want to really really really put the spotlight on your photo subject, so much so that they appear to be like a glowing angel from heaven (which all Golden Retrievers are, tbh), then try the Radiance or Spotlight photo effects in the Light section of Effects. You can be as extra as you want with the rays of light, or tone it down for a more subtle look.

Want more blur tips and tricks? Check out: 7 Photo Blur Effects to Edit Photos Into Works of Art

Let your creativity run free with a PicMonkey subscription.

Gary writes for PicMonkey as the illustrious and ever-resourceful copywriter intern. When he’s not drafting and publishing, Gary enjoys sailing on Lake Washington, and making artisanal soap.