Have you ever noticed what a difference a beautiful blurred background can make to a photo? If you get the background blurred just right, it can really make your subject POP from the background. Gorgeous!
Step 0: Downloading the Image
For this tutorial, we’ll be using this lovely portrait.
In addition to this written tutorial, you can also watch our video tutorial on blurring the background of your images.
Step 1: Select That Subject
With the image opened in Affinity Photo, we need to start by selecting the subject of our photo. In this case, we’ll select the woman.
First, get out the Selection Brush Tool.
Then paint a selection across the woman.
If you accidentally select too much (no worries, happens all the time), you can hold down Alt (Mac) or Option (PC) on your keyboard while painting to remove from your selection.
You can also adjust your brush size by using the bracket keys beneath the equal sign on your keyboard ( [ and ] ).
With a rough selection made, it’s time to refine the selection.
In the Context Toolbar, press Refine.
This button automatically refines your selection (like magic!)
To make the selection even better, paint around the edges of her hair. This will tell Affinity to have a second look at refining the edges of her hair.
After your selection is looking good, press Apply.
Step 2: Blur the Background
It’s the moment that we’ve all been waiting for. The blurring effect!
We need to select the background in order to blur it. Right now, we have everything except the background selected, so we’ll need to invert our selection.
Press Command Shift I (Mac) or Control Shift I (PC) to invert the selection.
With the background selected, we can apply a Gaussian Blur Filter.
Press on the Filters icon.
Apply a Gaussian Blur Filter.
Increase the Radius in the Dialog Box to blur the background. The higher the Radius, the bigger the blur.
Don’t increase the Radius too much, or it won’t look quite right.
This blurring is giving our picture opaque edges. To fix this, check on Preserve Alpha in the Dialog Box.
Press Command D (Mac) or Control D (PC) to deselect.
Step 3: Enhancing the Lighting
Now we’ll enhance the lighting in our image.
First, select the Background layer in the Layers Panel.
Then press on the Filters icon.
Apply a Lighting Filter.
Zoom out by pressing Command – (Mac) or Control – (PC).
Using the top handle, click and drag to move the light source up and to the left.
Using the bottom middle handle, reposition the light source.
Our picture looks a bit too dark now, but we can fix that by increasing the Ambient slider in the Dialog Box.
Press on the Ambient light color, and change it to a light orange to warm up the image.
This is looking good, so exit from the Dialog Box.
Press Command 0 (Mac) or Control 0 (PC) to zoom back into the picture.
To make the lighting softer, select the image layer in the Layers Panel, then press Command J (Mac) or Control J (PC) to duplicate it.
Change the top layer’s Blend Mode from Normal to Soft Light.
This has added a beautiful soft light effect to the picture, but it might be a little too strong. To fix this, lower the Opacity by clicking and dragging to the left on the word Opacity in the Layers Panel.
With the Soft Light effect applied, this blurred background is looking great!
Nice work, friends!