How to Create Movement Using Photoshop

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wedding-scene-backiground-motion

Sometimes you have a shot you to which you want to add a little something extra. I’ll share how to create a sense of movement in an image using Photoshop to add some visual interest to the subject.

A while ago, I photographed a bride and groom in downtown Chicago. They were up for anything, including standing in the middle of the street. Here’s the original image I shot, straight out of camera:How to edit an image in photoshop

I thought that this shot might look cool if I created the illusion of movement in the image. I wanted it to feel like the world was in action around them, but they were oblivious to it. Here’s the finished product:

How to blur background

Here’s how I created this effect:

Step 1: Basics

Start by making standard edits to the image. In this case, I added a bit of contrast and vibrancy. I straightened and cropped the image. I cloned away the stoplight that seemed to be growing out of the groom’s head and cleaned up some of the trash on the pavement using the patch tool. Be sure that you complete these kinds of edits on an image before adding any kind of special effect.

How to add blurStep 2: Duplicate Layer

Press Ctrl-J to create a duplicate layer of your image. (Another way to do the same thing: You can also click Layer, Duplicate layer.)

How to duplicate layer in photoshopStep 3: Blur

Photoshop offers many types of blur and motion filters. For this effect, I used the Radial Blur filter. To add a Radial Blur, select Filter, Blur, Radial Blur.

How to add radial blurThe Radial Blur menu will appear. For this picture, I selected Amount = 16, Blur Method = Zoom, and Quality = Best. I left the Zoom Center in the middle of the image. You can play with these settings for various results. Then click OK.

The image now looks like this:

How to blur part of imageStep 4: Layer Mask

I like the look of the blurred cars and pavement, but I’d like to keep the bride and groom’s faces tack sharp. To do this, I added a layer mask over Layer 1. To add the mask, click on the mask icon in the Layers panel; it looks like a gray rectangle with a white circle in the middle. You will see a white rectangle appear in Layer 1. This means that a mask has been added.

Screenshot of photoshopStep 5: Decide on Sharpness

Select Layer 1 (it will be highlighted blue) and that the mask is activated (it will have brackets around the corners).

How to edit in PhotoshopThen select a soft, round brush by clicking on the brush tool in the Tool palette (it looks like a paint brush) or by pressing the shortcut B. I used a 300 pixel brush at zero percent hardness.

How to select brush in PhotoshopSelect black as your brush color. Black and white are the default brush colors; if you have your brush set to another color, you can reset the brush to black and white by pressing D.

Photoshop tipsPaint over the faces of the bride and groom. The background layer will show through the places where you paint with a black brush on a white mask. So the background layer (which did not have radial blur applied to it) will only be visible in the places where you paint with a black brush. I chose to paint over the bride and groom’s faces, their arms and the bouquet. I left a bit of blur on the bottom of her dress and her shoes. Press the backslash key (this one: \) to see in yellow the area of your image that you have painted (to make the yellow go away, press the backslash key again):

How to reduce blurTo see the before and after of your image, toggle the eyeball on Layer 1 on and off.

How to toggle in photoshopStep 6: Flatten

If you are satisfied with how the image looks, then flatten (click Layer, Flatten Image) and save your work.

How to create blurHere’s the final product:

How to blur backgroundHere’s the before and after. What do you think?Photoshop tip

How to manipulate in photoshopThis is a fun technique to add a little movement to a picture. But you should probably use this effect sparingly – it’s not the kind of thing that will work on every single image. Happy photo editing!

photo credit: Kristen Duke and Liz Hansen

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