Thursday, August 12, 2010

Blurring a Photo Background-Bokeh-Using Gimp Free Software

In this tutorial I will be teaching you how to blur a photo background, or create bokeh, using Gimp free photo editing software.  As most of you know, getting bokeh straight out of the camera with a point and shoot is super hard.  Fortunately, creating bokeh with Gimp is super easy!

1)  Open your photo with Gimp.  Duh!

2) Use the Free Select tool to outline the area you want to keep in focus.
3) File > Copy Visible
4)  Layer > New Layer
5)  Edit > Paste, Then click on the image to anchor it. 
6) Click on the eyeball next to your new layer to turn it off (A) then make sure your background layer is highlighted in gray (B).  Then go to Filters > Blur > Gaussian Blur.  If you can't see your layer box click on CTRL + L and it should pop up.
7)  Make sure your Blur Radius is no less than 30.  In this tutorial I used 50.  The higher the number, the more blur you get.  It's really just a personal preference.
8)  Once the photo has been blurred, turn on your new layer by clicking on the place where the eyeball should be (A).  Your in focus part should now be on top.  Go to Image > Flatten Image (B) and you're done!
Super easy huh!  The only (small) downfall is that you get a slight halo around your in focus area.  As hard as I tried, I couldn't figure out a way to get rid of it. 

If you are a bit picky like me and you have some sharp edges between your in focus area and your out of focus area you can use the Blur tool to help:
Just make sure you have "Blur" clicked and your radius is all the way up to 100.

One of these days, I'll make a tutorial on how to select fine, small areas of photos such as hair.  That way you won't have the problem above :)

There you have it!  You can have bokeh with a point and shoot camera, you just have to do it with your photo editing software :)

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17 comments:

Arizona Mamma said...

You make it seem so easy...but when it comes to editing, I am a gimp!

Ashley Sisk said...

I don't use Gimp but this is a great tutorial.

Jamie H said...

Ashley, this tutorial should be useful for Photoshop or other similar software too.

Reaching My Limit said...

I wonder if there is anything in Lightroom that does this, or if I should try downloading Gimp? With your new camera, is there a way to do this? I have been trying and trying but not successful. Maybe it's just not possible.

*Jess* said...

I love your GIMP tutorials! Thanks Jamie!

Jamie H said...

Reaching My Limit--I'm not familiar with Lightroom so I don't know if bokeh can be done with it.
To be honest, I haven't had a whole lot of time to play with my new camera to try out some new features. Right now I'm just working on getting the basic feel for it! I'm gonna try to get bokeh to work with it. I did it with my old camera but only in the macro mode.

alyssa10 said...

wow! So clear! I've read several of these and they will skip a step such as (click to anchor it)... and then the whole thing goes wrong. Very well written . thank you! I am definitely a new follower of yours!

Amanda said...

first of all let me say your blog is amazing! i was feeling a little discouraged that i cant afford a dslr, and then i found you! this tutorial just made my night! thank you so much!!!!

Neal Conner said...

Awesome Photos, thanks for sharing!

Unknown said...

this isn't bokeh, though, this is just regular blur :(

Anonymous said...

while adding a new layer which option shud i select??

Jamie H said...

Anon,
Do not change any of the layer options. Leave it on "normal."

Angela Maloney said...

Hi! The end result looks great! I just tried to follow this tutorial but it didn't seem to work for me. I think GIMP has updated their menus since this was created so it was a little hard to follow. For example the ``copy visible `` is in the edit tab not the file tab. It seemed to stop working for me during the layering bit. Any chance you can update the steps.
Thank you!
Angela

Anonymous said...

to get rid of the slight halo around your in focus area select your layer mask and add a gaussian blur to the black silhouette. This will blend the focused and unfocused parts better.

Carolyn Booth said...

There is no "normal" option, so what is "normal?" It asks you to select 4 options, even if you don't touch the width or height. Which one do you choose? Foreground colour, background colour, white, or transparency?

Jamie H said...

Carolyn-
It asks for those 4 options when you are making a completely new layer. In this tutorial we are pasting a layer from something we copied. Make sure you did not skip step #3.

Anonymous said...

Hey, just happened to see this page and am stopping by to drop a hint. There's an easy way to get rid of the focus halo. After you select the free select tool, simply enable the "feather edges" in the toolbox. You can then set the value; that is, the higher the number is, the smoother the transition will be. :)

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