In photographs, motion blur—the apparent streaking of moving objects caused by rapid movement or long exposure times—can add dynamic excitement to a subject. Follow Adobe art director Kathleen Martin’s process as she uses Adobe Photoshop to create a motion blur effect.

Kathleen Martin is a starry-eyed illustrator and designer working in the Adobe Studio. Ever the creative explorer, she scouts the digital landscape with an evolving toolkit of handy workflows. You can also find Kathleen as a host of Adobe Live on Behance.

What you'll need

This sample file has Adobe Stock images you can use to practice what you learn in this tutorial. If you want to use the sample file beyond this tutorial, you can purchase a license on Adobe Stock. Check out the ReadMe file in the folder for the terms that apply to your use of this sample file.

Prep images

Start by opening the dancer photo in Photoshop and click on the Lock icon on the layer to unlock it. Martin then chose Layer > Smart Objects > Convert to Smart Object to protect the dancer photo.

Unlock dancer layer and convert to Smart Object in Adobe Photoshop

Get moving

Martin applied a blur to the entire image by choosing Filter > Blur Gallery > Path Blur. To create the appearance of movement on specific parts of the model, Martin updated the default marker that Photoshop added by dragging the arrow to control the direction of movement. She dragged the points to refine the movement; then she added more markers by clicking on the image with the Pen tool.

Apply Path Blur from Blur Gallery to the model’s head and feet to give appearance of movement

Speed up

Use the Speed slider to adjust the appearance of movement and click OK.

Adjust the speed slider for the Path Blur

Stay focused

Martin wanted some parts of the model to be more in focus. She clicked on the Smart Filters mask thumbnail in the Layers panel to specify which parts of the model would be in focus. Then she chose the Brush tool, adjusted the brush size, and brushed over the areas that should not be blurred.

Paint with Brush tool on Smart Filters on the dancer to bring parts of the model into focus

Keep moving

See how adding motion to your images can bring new life to your photos.

Image with Path Blur set in poster placeholder in front of two city buildings

Note: Project files included with this tutorial are for practice purposes only.

08/28/2019

Designer: Kathleen Martin

Adobe Stock contributors: ANNA BERDNIK, georgejmclittle

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