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Creating motion blur without special software

Should you be on holiday, and run out of Photoshop, Fireworks, Illustrator or your favorite image editing software, you need not panic if you need to apply a motion blur effect to an image. You could use your camera if it is convenient (IE: you need to apply motion blur to something located next to you). For the purposes of this tutorial I have chosen a random landscape image. The original size of the image was 2500 by 1667 pixels, but I need it at 540 pixels by 360 pixels.

Original file

original file

Final outcome

final result

To apply motion blur to a graphic element without any dedicated software, here's a few simple steps that will have decent results.

1: Duplicate your graphic element

blur duplicate graphic element

We will duplicate our graphic element because I want to apply the blur effect to only a portion of the landscape. To be exact, I want a horizontal line that blurs the center of the image.

2: Resize copy A of the element to desired size

blur resize one graphic

Copy A will have to be located underneath copy B because it will be the part that will not be blurred.

3: Resize the height of copy B to same height of A

blur resize graphic 2 height

4: Resize the width of copy B to something smaller than A's width

blur resize graphic 2 width

By resizing the image to a smaller width, information will be lost. Why? The original file was 2500 pixels in width. I am resizing the image to something as low as 150 pixels. More than 10 pixels will be combined to form a new one, and preserve part of the original aspect of the image.

5: Resize the width of copy B to the width of A

blur resize graphic 2 width again

During this resizing process, the exact opposite of step four will happen. Out of one sole pixel, many more have to be created, resulting in quality loss of the image, and the blurry effect.

6: Trim excess material, while blurred image on top

blur finish

In the final step, we trim off the header and footer of the blurred copy of the image, leaving the desired horizontal bar, on top of the original image. If you liked this article you can subscribe to the full content rss feed and stay updated as we post new information.

Published on Thursday, September 10th, 2009 at 5:21 pm in articles, design, techniques.

About Bogdan Pop

Bogdan Pop is a young Romanian entrepreneur who runs WebRaptor. He is a web developer with awesome design skills, who enjoys writing about everyday's work and usability. He relaxes by taking photos every once in a while and by mixing french electronic music. Connect with him via Twitter.
  1. Michael says: September 20th, 2009 at 10:22 am

    ummmm, why don’t you use the motion blur in the first place?

  2. admin says: September 20th, 2009 at 10:09 pm

    Hey Michael,
    I do use dedicated software. However, the tip comes in very useful if you’re, let’s say, on holiday, and you need to quickly modify an image or two.

  3. 9 months stats says: December 9th, 2009 at 4:41 pm

    […] 1. Creating motion blur without special software […]

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