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How to blur background using Snapseed

Besides Android, Google offers a wide variety of products that offer to better your productivity. One such product is Snapseed which is an app that can enhance images with one-touch tools, add filters, edit RAW photos, tune images with sliders and give them a new look in just a matter of minutes.

As smartphone cameras have come to reach the capabilities of DSLRs, smartphone editing has also moved likewise in terms of offering users desktop-like editing functions. Portrait photography and pictures with bokeh effects were only possible on DSLRs till half a decade ago and then came phones with dedicated depth sensors to give you a background blur effect. But if your phone lacks that second camera or if you’re not impressed with its bokeh effect, you can create pictures with blurred backgrounds using Snapseed.

How to blur your background using Snapseed

The guide below will help you create a background blur effect on your pictures. For simplicity, we’ve divided this section into two pieces – basic and advanced; so that you can choose between convenience and perfection every time you’re making an edit to your pictures.

Basic editing

Step 1: Download and install the Snapseed app from Google Play.

Step 2: Open the Snapseed app.

Step 3: Tap anywhere on the app’s home screen to load a picture.

Step 4: Select a picture you want to add the background blur effect on.

Step 5(optional): In order to make the subject look better with background blur, we recommend adding some more contrast and saturation to the image before moving on to giving it the blur effect. To do so, tap on the Styles tab, choose either Portrait or Smooth from the options and then tap on the tick mark at the bottom right to apply the style.

Step 6: Tap on the Tools tab from the bottom.

Step 7: Select the Lens blur tile from the menu.

Step 8: Determine the shape of the blur by tapping the highlighted icon at the bottom. You can choose between linear or elliptical blur depending upon the subject in your picture or the shape of your subject.

Step 9: Once you’ve chosen the type of blur, you can move this blur mask to the center of the subject by pressing and holding the blue dot and dragging it to the subject.

Step 10: Next, you will have to adjust the size of the blur mask by pinching in and out so that only the subject is covered with the blur area.

Step 11: Adjust the blur strength by swiping left or right to decrease and increase the intensity of the blur.

Step 12: Now adjust the size of the transition area by swiping up on the screen till Transition is highlighted and sliding left or right side to change the values of the transition area.

The transition area is the area between the inner and outer circle that gives you a subtle change in the blur effect for the area surrounding the subject.

Step 13: Apply and adjust the Vignette effect to your blurred photo by swiping up on the screen till Vignette strength is highlighted and then swipe to left or right if you want to decrease or increase the intensity of the Vignette effect on the picture.

Step 14: Tap on the tick mark icon at the bottom right corner to apply the changes.

Step 15: To save the edited picture, tap on the Done. You can also share this picture directly from Snapseed by tapping on the Share icon at the top.

That’s it. You have created a picture with background blur in the easiest way possible. For those who want to do a little more editing to the blur effect on their pictures, the following guide will surely be of help.

Advanced editing

While the above method offers to let you add a blur effect to backgrounds, it fails to define the shape of your subject perfectly. To improve the effectiveness of the blur, you will need to follow these steps.

Step 1: Follow steps 1 through 7 from the basic editing guide above.

Step 2: Instead of keeping the blur area large, pinch inward to make sure the blur mask is smaller than the subject in your picture.

Step 3: Once that’s done, tap on the tick mark at the bottom right.

Step 4: Tap on the Edit stack button at the top.

Step 5: Select View edits from the pop-up menu.

Step 6: Tap on the Lens Blur box and then select the Stacks Brush tool (brush icon in the middle).

Ensure that that the Lens Blur value at the bottom is set to 100.

Step 7: Carefully brush the area over the subject that you want to add color to. When you start brushing, the area that you brushed will be highlighted in red.

For best results, you can zoom in to the picture (by pinching outward with two fingers) to brush the area around the edges of the subject. Zoom out of the picture (by pinching inward with two fingers) to check how the brushed image looks in the original view.

If you brushed an unwanted region, you can go back to erasing the region by adjusting the Lens Blur effect to zero, brushing over the mistakingly shaded region and changing the value back to 100.

Continue brushing till the whole subject is highlighted in red as shown below.

Step 8: Once you’ve brushed over the entire subject, tap on the Invert icon at the bottom.

When you do so, Snapseed will now invert the mask area, thus highlighting all the areas in red except for the subject that you brushed over.

Step 9: Tap on the tick mark at the bottom right to confirm the editing.

You’ll now have a picture applied with the Lens Blur effect as shown below.

Step 10: Head back to the main edit screen by tapping the back arrow at the top left.

Step 11: To save the edited picture, tap on the Done. You can also share this picture directly from Snapseed by tapping on the Share icon at the top.

That’s it! You have successfully created your own picture with the Lens Blur effect. Try out the effect on other pictures from your gallery. Don’t be disappointed if the picture didn’t pan out like you thought it would. The more you practice, the better your blurred background pictures will turn out over time.


What do you think about the Lens Blur effect on Snapseed? Let us know in the comments below.