How to blur background using Snapseed

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Pau Monfort
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Your phone is not super-equipped, it certainly does not have all the functions you always want, okay today I offer you one for free, by reading this article you will learn how to blur background of your photos using Snapseed. If you don't live on a mountain far from the rest of the world, you know by now that portrait mode, aka bokeh, is one of the most sought after photography options.

Read also: How to make a collage on Instagram? Very easy

Previously, image capture in portrait mode was only possible via DSLR, now everything has changed thanks to advanced smartphone cameras. Yes, phones now come with a dedicated portrait mode that automatically blurs the background of an image.

But just in case your phone doesn't have a dedicated portrait mode, don't worry, we're here to help. Photo editing tools like Snapseed have a ton of features and filters. And as you may have guessed, one of Snapseed's tools allows you to achieve nearly the perfect bokeh. All you need is a little patience. So what are we waiting for? We begin to see how to blur background using Snapseed.


Step 1: Before we begin, let's soften the photo a bit. You can use one of the normal filters or use the Tune Image tool to adjust the saturation and contrast of the image. Once done, tap done to save your current changes.

Step 2: For landscape photos where there is a lot of space in the background, cropping the image helps focus on the subject. To do this, tap Tools and select Crop. Adjust the edges to your preference. When done, save the current settings.

Step 3: Then, open the Tools window and select Lens Blur. Tap the shape icon and choose a shape. You can choose a line blur or a circular blur effect. For my image, I chose the oval / circle. Adjust the outline according to the shape of your subject. Pinch on the image to increase the area. Just keep in mind to keep the outline of the circle as close to the subject as possible.

4 pass: Unlike other photo editors, Snapseed comes with a transition effect (the second outline), which gives the blur a soft transition as you move away from the subject. To reduce the transition area, swipe up on the photo to view the submenu. Select Transition and drag left.

Step 5: Now that the transition is set up, it's time to change the strength of the blur. Do you want a strong blur? If so, swipe up on the photo and select Blur. Then drag the slider to the right.

Likewise, you can opt for a light touch on the Vignette effect on the edges of the photo. But if you prefer the edges to remain in their original color, drag the Vignette slider all the way down to zero. And that's pretty much it.

Now, all you have to do is save the current changes and then export the photo to your phone's gallery.

While the above method is fairly simple, it has one major flaw. It does not allow you to adjust the blur based on the shape of the subject. For example, if you look closely at the image, you will find that there are small areas that have not been blurred.

In some photos, these spaces can be easily overlooked. But for close-up portraits, it may not be good.

Fortunately, Snapseed has another ace up its sleeve which gives you the ability to select the area you want to blur. And for that, we'll use Snapseed's hidden tool: View Changes.

SUGGESTION: to save a full quality image, tap the three-dot icon> Settings, then tap Quality and Format.


1 pass: Once you have cropped the image and added the necessary filters, select the Lens Blur tool. Now instead of increasing the blur area, pinch to reduce the area. Hit the Save button in the lower right corner when you're done.

2 pass: You will now see the Cancel icon next to the Info icon. Tap it and a submenu will appear. Select View Changes from the list. All the filters you have applied so far will appear on the right. Tap Lens Blur, then select the Fleece Brushes icon.

Step 3: Now it's time to start drawing. With the Lens Blur parameter set to 100, start by drawing a mask layer over your subject. That will be denoted by red. So why are we drawing on the subject instead of the background? Well, we plan to reverse the selection later. It's simpler and saves a lot of time.

The trick now is to get as close to the edge of the subject as possible. To do this, zoom in on the image by pinching. This will give you a finer brush. Once you've drawn the outline, start filling in the interiors as shown below.

Here, I warn you that the process is long and tedious. Thankfully, the results are well worth the effort.

Once done, click on the Reverse icon as shown in the screenshot above, and hit the Save button and voila! Welcome, portrait mode.

Now, all you have to do is export the image and send it directly to Instagram. Here you just finished learning how to blur background of photos using Snapseed.

In photography, things don't usually go as we plan them in most cases. On some days, it happens to create perfect portraits, while on others the background is not that impressive.

So, if you don't want to erase these elements from your photo, all you have to do is play around with the Blur tool.

Read also: How to delete Facebook photos on almost any device

Further Reading:

  • How to make a photo collage with Snapseed
  • How to delete objects or people from a photo
  • How to change the background color in Snapseed
  • How to use Microsoft Paint on Mac
  • How to invert image colors on Snapseed

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