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How to Use the Blur and Sharpen Tool in Photoshop?

  • Last Updated : 03 Sep, 2021

Adobe Photoshop is a raster-based image editing software. It is developed by Adobe.Inc and available for both macOS and Windows operating systems. You can use Photoshop to create or edit images, posters, banners, logos, invitation cards, and various types of graphic designing work. It provides various tools for designing and editing and the Blur and Sharpen Tools are one of them.

Blur Tool

Many times we have several photos(either portraits or landscapes) where we have some parts that we do not want to show for reasons or to make the image more attractive. This can be done in Photoshop using the blur tool in Photoshop. Thus, the Blur tool as the name suggests helps to blur some parts of the image to hide the details or add create a field in Photoshop. Blurring an image helps us to put more focus on the main subjects of the image. It can also be used to hide some private information like the numbers written on the number plate of the car or the text inside someone’s contact list. It is one of the easiest tools to use in Photoshop. The blur tool looks like this:

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How to use Blur Tool?

Let’s now see how to use the blur tool. Here we have used the image given as below:

Now in the above image, we want to blur the things by the side of the path. Let’s see how to do it using the Blur tool.

Step 1: Open the image inside Photoshop as shown below:

Step 2: Select the blur tool from the Photoshop toolbar as shown below:

Step 3: Now the cursor will change to that of a brush.



Step 4: You can right-click on it to change the brush, here we selected a soft brush.

Step 5: Now just paint over the areas that you want to blur. You will get the results like one shown below:

Left: Original Image, Right: After blurring the side of the paths 

So, this is how the blur tool works.

Note: Here the blur strength is set to 100%. 

Properties of the blur tool

Now, we have understood the basic function of the blur tool, let’s understood the properties of the blur tool. When we select the blur tool from the toolbar in Photoshop, we see a properties bar as one shown below the menu bar:

Let’s understand the properties one by one.

1. Brush Preset Picker: This option lets us pick our desired brush to be used in blurring. When we click on it we get to see the different brushes present in Photoshop as one shown below:



We also can change the hardness and size of the brush from this option.  

2. Mode: This option helps us to choose the different modes of operations of the Blur tool. We can select the different modes from this option as seen below:

By default, the mode is set to Normal.

3. Strength: This is the most important property of the blur tool properties which you will use very much. The Strength or the Blur strength determines the amount of blurriness the blur tool will produce. More the strength more is the blur. This option has a value from 0-100%. By default, the blur strength is set to 50%

4. Sample all layers: This option when checked samples the pixels from all the layers and blur the picture accordingly.

5. Pen pressure size: This option is only available while using the Pen tablet. This option helps to change the size of the pen using pressure. It is not recommended for students and is used by tablet users.  

Thus, we have seen how to use the blur tool in Photoshop and the various properties of the blur tool. Though being a very simple and easy-to-use tool.  The blur tool is used by almost all sections of Photoshop users. Some use it to blur the background of portraits, while some use it to blur their personal information from displaying on the image.

Sharpen Tool

The work of sharpen tool is just the opposite of the Blur tool. As the name suggests the sharpen tool sharpens the less focused part of the image and makes it stand out. The sharpen tool makes the parts of the image sharp by increasing the contrast between the pixels by making the light pixels lighter and the dark pixels darker. Thus making the image clearer and more vivid. The sharpen tool looks like this:



How to use Sharpen Tool?

Now let’s understand how to use the sharpen tool in Photoshop. Here, we have used the image shown below to understand the working of the sharpen tool:

Step 1: Open the image in Adobe Photoshop as shown below:

Step 2: Select the sharpen tool from the toolbar

Step 3: Now in the image, we want to put more focus on the leaf and sharpen the leaf, so place the sharpen tool over the leaf and just start painting.

Step 4: After sharpening we will see an effect like the one shown below:

 Right: Image before Sharpening, Left: Image after Sharpening

Note: Here in the above example, I have sharpened different parts of the image with different brush sizes and also changed the strength of sharpness multiple times. 



So this is how the sharpen tool works.

Properties of the sharpen tool

Now let’s understand the properties of the sharpen tool. When we use the sharpen tool in Photoshop, we see a properties bar like the one shown below:

Let’s discuss them one by one from the left:

1. Brush Preset Picker: This option lets us pick our desired brush to be used in sharpening. When we click on it we get to see the different brushes present in Photoshop as one shown below:

We also can change the hardness and size of the brush from this option.  

2. Mode: This option helps us to choose the different modes of operations of the Sharpen tool. We can select the different modes from this option as seen below:

By default, the mode is set to Normal.

3. Strength: This is one of the most important properties of the sharpen tool. The strength determines the amount of sharpening that will happen. It has a range of values between 0-100%.  

4. Sample all layers: This option when checked samples the pixels from all the layers and sharpen the picture accordingly.

5. Protect Details: This option protects the details of the image while sharpening it. It is useful when the image is having many minute details and the user wants to preserve the details while sharpening.

6. Pen pressure size: This option is only available while using the Pen tablet. This option helps to change the size of the pen using pressure. It is not recommended for students and is used by tablet users.  

Thus, we have seen the properties of Sharpen tool.

Sharpen tool works just the opposite of the Blur tool in Photoshop. Though they are opposite in function, they can be used in the same picture. Like if there is a picture of a flower where you want to blur the background details on the image of the flower, then, we can sharpen the petals of the flower to make it look more vivid and attractive (especially the edges). The blur tool and sharpen tool are used simultaneously in the case of portraits editing. In portraits, we sometimes blur the background and sharpen the eyes or some part of the face to make the portrait look more attractive. Thus, though, they are easy to use and simple tools but they can be used in different ways both alone and together to make some awesome creative images.




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