Realistic Motion Blur with Photoshop

If you’ve seen my style of Composite Photography, you know I like to create the effect of motion throughout my work, but there’s a trick to making it look realistic.

So today, I’m going to show you how I Create a Realistic Motion Blur using Photoshop.

If you’re a Composite Photographer, or aspiring to become better at Photo Compositing, you know there aren’t near enough video tutorials showing you how to Composite.

As I grow in my Photo Compositing skills, my goal is to share what I learn along the way, and to create a video library I can refer back to when needed.

Yes, I’m a self-serving butt hole. LOL

Motion Blur Step-by-Step

The purpose of this Photoshop Tutorial is to show you how I make something that is still, looks like it’s moving.

Giving Motion to still life can be easier than you imagine.

Here’s the step-by-step process I use to Create Motion using Photoshop.

Step #1: Duplicate Layer
Using the image layer you’d like to apply motion to, simply duplicate the layer (command J).

Step #2: Apply Motion Blur
With the top layer selected, go to filters > blur > motion blur, and select the strength and angle you prefer. It’s important to blur the top layer.

Step #3: Reduce Opacity
This step is optional, but I find it necessary to reduce the opacity a bit to create a more realistic blur. The amount you reduce the opacity will largely depend on the brightness of the image you’re blurring.

Step #4: Erase your Motion Blur
Using your eraser tool, reduce your flow to around 35%, and begin erasing the blurred layer from front to back. You’ll want to allow the Motion Blur to be slightly visible over the back end of what you’re blurring.

It’s All about Fudging

Let’s face it, Composite Photography is all about creating something that’s not real from elements that are real, and in order for you to accomplish this successfully, it’s all about the Fudge.

The better your can Fudge, the better your Composites will appear.

Creating a Motion Blur requires you to fudge the illusion of taking something that is perfectly still, and making it look like it’s moving.

While blurry motion in the real world is interpreted much differently by your eyes, we can trick your brain by using Motion Blur in Photoshop to see motion.

I hope this helps, and if you have any questions about Fudging reality, please don’t hesitate to email me at jason @ photillustrator dot com and ask.

Now, if you like this fancy little Photoshop trick, leave a comment below and share away.

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