How to Blur the Background With GIMP

by Naomi Bolton
Jupiterimages/Pixland/Getty Images

Blurring the background of an image can draw attention to a person or object in the foreground of the shot. The blurring is usually done while taking the photo with your camera, but it is also possible to add this effect during post-processing with an image editor such as GIMP. Using GIMP, you can define which area of your photo you want to remain in focus and then apply a blur effect to the background.

Step 1

Open GIMP and select "File" from the Menu bar.

Step 2

Click "Open" and select the image with the background that you want to blur.

Step 3

Click "Open" to load the image into the GIMP editor.

Step 4

Right-click the image name on the "Layers" window and select "Duplicate Layer" from the context menu. Double-click the layer name in the Layers window and type "Background" (without quotation marks) as the layer name.

Step 5

Use the Free Select tool, Fuzzy Select tool or Paths tool to specify the area of the image that is the foreground.

Step 6

Press "Ctrl-C" to copy the selected foreground area to the clipboard.

Step 7

Click "Layers" from the menu bar and select "New Layer."

Step 8

Type "Foreground" as the layer name and click "OK."

Step 9

Click "Foreground" from the Layers window, and then press "Ctrl-V" to paste the foreground image onto this layer.

Step 10

Select the "Move" tool from the Toolbox and click any area outside the selected foreground area.

Step 11

Select the "Background" layer from the Layers window and then select "Filters" from the Menu bar.

Step 12

Click "Blur" and select the type of blur you want to apply to the image background. Select "Gaussian Blur" for a normal blur, "Simple Blur" if you only want to soften the background, or "Motion Blur" to create the illusion of motion in your blur.

Step 13

Adjust the blur settings for the chosen blur filter while checking the preview pane. For example, when using a Gaussian blur, you can adjust the horizontal and vertical blur radius; with a motion blur, you can set the angle and length.

Click "OK" when you are satisfied with the blur effect to apply the filter to the background of your image.


  • Select the "Blur/Sharpen" tool from the Toolbox and apply it to the edges of the objects on your Foreground layer if the contrast between foreground and background is too high. The Blur/Sharpen tool enables you to soften the edges of objects for better blending.


Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages/Pixland/Getty Images

About the Author

Virtually growing up in a computer repair shop, Naomi Bolton has held a passion for as long as she can remember. After earning a diploma through a four year course in graphic design from Cibap College, Bolton launched her own photography business. Her work has been featured on Blinklist, Gameramble and many others.

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