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Library: Creative Design


Impart motion with Photoshop's Motion Blur and Layer Styles

Added on Tuesday 4th of August 2009 09:23 am EST

Application > Adobe Photoshop CS/CS2
Operating Systems > Macintosh, Microsoft Windows


Motion blur is a camera technique that imparts the feeling of motion to a subject in an image. To achieve this effect, a photographer pans the camera on a subject in motion using a slow camera shutter speed. Though the technique is simple, the execution is dicey at best, as often the result is more blur than motion. As a result, rather than risk missing the photo, many simply resort to a high speed shot. However, there's an alternative way to obtain a similar result, as shown in Figure A. By using Photoshop's Motion Blur filter and Layer Styles, we'll show you how to create great looking motion blur images, but never miss the action.

Although sports action is a favorite for motion blur subjects, you can apply this technique to almost any type of subject. For our example, let's use a leaf quaking on a branch. To follow along using our image, download the branch.jpg file from the URL address given at the beginning of this article.
1. Launch Photoshop and open the branch.jpg file shown in Figure B.

2. Study the image to determine a logical direction of motion the subject might take if it were actually moving. For the leaf and branch in our photo, it probably makes more of a diagonal direction when a breeze moves it.
3. Drag the original layer to the Create A New Layer button located at the bottom the L...