How to Blur Out Sections of Pictures on InDesign

By Maya Austen

Updated September 28, 2017

Adobe InDesign software can be used to create page layouts for digital publications.
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Adobe InDesign does not feature a “Blur” filter. You can, however, create a blurring effect to sections of picture objects in your layout by using a tool in InDesign called “Gradient Feather.” The Gradient Feather tool is one of several transparency effects offered in InDesign. It’s used to soften different areas of a selected object by modifying the opacity level. It will not distort the selected area, but it does create a slight blur effect by muddying the detailed features of the selected area. Alternatively, you can also use the “Drop Shadow” effect to blur a picture object.

Using Gradient Feather

Select the object in your layout you want to blur.

Open the “Object” menu. Point to the “Effects” submenu. Select “Gradient Feather.”

Check the box next to “Preview.”

Drag the gradient stop (the box arrow located below the gradient slider) left or right until the effect covers the area you want to apply the blur to. Click the arrow next to the “Opacity” box. Lower the opacity level to suit your preference to muddy the detailed features of that area.

Click directly below the gradient slider to insert another gradient stop. This will allow you to modify the opacity level of another area of the object. Set the location and the opacity level of this gradient stop to suit your preference.

Repeat Step 5 as desired.

Click “OK.”

Using Drop Shadow

Select the object in your layout you want to blur.

Open the “Object” menu. Point to the “Effects” submenu. Select “Drop Shadow.”

Set the “X Offset” and “Y Offset” to “0.” Increase the "Noise" value to suit your preference. Remove the checkmark from the “Object Knocks Out Shadow” box (if applicable). Click “OK.”

Open the “Windows” menu. Select “Color.” Select “Swatches” to open the Swatches panel. Select “Paper.”

Click the “Windows” menu. Select “Effects” to open the “Effects” panel. Change the object’s “Fill” from “Normal” to “Multiply.” A paper object that is set to multiply will disappears. All that remains is the blurred drop shadow effect.


To create a more dynamic blurry effect for a picture object in your InDesign layout, use the blur filter in a photo editing application such as Adobe Photoshop to apply the effect. Once this is accomplished, import the picture into your InDesign project.