Iris Blur was introduced in Photoshop CS6, alongside Field Blur and Tilt-Shift. In this Iris Blur Photoshop tutorial we are going to use to quickly create a stylised image with the focus on a particular part of the image.
Here is the original shot we are going to work with, it’s a reasonable shot, but I want a more creative image that would be more suited for advertising or editorial use. The majority of the image below is in perfect focus, we want to solely focus on the top of the dessert, and have the rest of the image fade to a soft blur. Basically we are digitally creating a shallow depth of field.
This is the image we’re going to work towards, you can see a fairly drastic change in focus for the majority of the shot. This is generally a more appealing image, with your eyes immediately drawn to the top of the dessert.
Creating the blur
First open up your chosen image in Photoshop, then go to the top menu and select Filters > Blur > Iris Blur, as illustrated below:
Once this is selected we are presented with the screen below, at a basic level, this is how Iris Blur works; everything within the elliptical shape remains in focus, and everything outside fades to blur, the graduation of the fade to blur is controlled via the inner white circles that you can see below.
It’s immediately apparent that the elliptical shape is going to be good fit for what we want to achieve (which is obviously why we are using this tool as apposed to the other blur options in Photoshop). The next step is to refine the blur so that is a perfect fit for our image.
Refining the blur
The first thing we need to do is move the whole thing up, so that it roughly covers the area we want in focus. To do this simply drag the central point of the centre circle.
Next we want to adjust the amount of blur that is outside our focus area, to do this you can drag the outside of the centre circle to get the amount you want, or, you can adjust the slider on the right (shown in the screenshot below). For this image I chose a blur amount of 17px, which is a little more than the default of 15px.
We are nearly there, but I want the glass edges of the top of the glass bowl to be in focus, to achieve this simply drag the circular-white control points to a wider position (just outside the edge of the bowl in this case), you can immediately see the results in the screenshot below, we now have the entire top of the object in sharp focus.
You’ll also notice I also moved the entire focus area up a little more for a perfect fit. Let’s have another look at our final image:
Iris Blur is a really useful tool that can work wonders with a variety of images, as well as product or still life photography as we’ve looked at in this tutorial, it can also work brilliantly with portrait images, by drawing attention to a particular part of the face, for example.Back to Top