How to Add Blur to Images with Paint.NET

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While most photographers might be more interested in minimizing blur in photos, blurring can be a good effect to apply in some pictures. For example, blurring is an effective effect in action shots or pictures that include a motion subject. Consequently, some image-editing software packages include blur options. The freeware Paint.NET editor, for Windows 7, 8 and 10, is one that has a few handy blur options for you to edit photographs with.

Adding Motion Blur to Images

First, if you have some action shots try adding some motion blur to give them an effect of movement and speed. This is the streaking effect of rapidly moving objects. Open an image in Paint.NET to edit and click Effects > Blurs. That will open a submenu which includes Paint.NET’s blurring effect options. Select Motion Blur from there to open the window shown below.

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The window above has two primary options for the effect. Firstly, drag the Distance bar to either increase or decrease the blurring effect. Moving the bar to the far right will put the image completely out of focus. I recommended setting that bar to a value between 40 to 60 to keep the photo reasonably clear, but also enhance the motion blur’s impact as below.

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Then drag the Angle circle to alter the direction of the motion blur effect. This should match the overall direction of the subject. So if the subject is heading left in the picture, adjust the angle to a more easterly direction on the circle for a left to right blur trail.

The Motion Blur option applies the effect to the full image including background when you have one layer. However, you can also apply the effect to just foreground areas of the picture by getting rid of the background as covered in this guide. This requires that you cut out an area of the image and then set up two layers for it.

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When you’ve removed the background with the Magic Wand option, apply the blur editing to the picture and click Layers > Import From Files. Select to open the original image before you edited it with background included. Select the image at the top of the Layers window (press F7 to open), and click the Move Layer Down button there. The blurred foreground areas will then overlap the backdrop as below.

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The Zoom Blur Effect

Zoom Blur is an option that applies motion blur outwards from a center point in the image. So this is an effect you can effectively apply to pictures that have strong focus points. For example, you could add it to a flower photograph like the one below.

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You can click Effects > Blurs > Zoom Blur to open the window shown in the snapshot directly below. The window includes a small thumbnail of the picture. Left-click and drag the small cross on that thumbnail to move the zoom blur’s position to a focal point in the photograph. It’s usually better to keep the zoom effect close to the photo’s center.

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Then drag the Zoom Amount bar slider to configure the amount of zoom. Drag that bar’s slider further right to increase the zoom effect. If you drag the bar to about a 70 value, you could have output more like that shown below. So this effect can certainly add a lot more energy and vitality to a photo.

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Add Radial Blur to Photos

The Radial Blur option is a circular version of the more linear motion blur effect. So if you’ve captured a subject in a photo with a more circular path, like the spinning firework in the snapshot below, this might be a good effect to apply. This can be a great effect for anything that’s spinning.

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Select Effects > Blurs and Radial Blur to open the tool’s window below. Firstly, move the center of the effect to the position of the primary subject in picture by dragging the cross on the thumbnail. Or you can drag the top and bottom Center bars to move it left/right and up/down.

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The window also includes an Angle circle for you to further adjust the effect with. The higher the angle value you select here the more out of focus the image becomes. If you select a higher value, the picture will be completely out of focus. As such, it’s probably better not to select any value much more than five to retain some clarity in the photo.

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Adding Focal Point Blur to Images

The Focal Point option blurs the image around a central focal point so that an area of the picture remains in focus. Paint.NET doesn’t include this among its default options, but you can add the Focal Point plug-in to it from this page. Click the Zip icon on that page to save its compressed folder. Then unzip the compressed folder by opening it and selecting File Explorer’s Extract all option. Extract all Paint.NET plug-ins to the software’s Effects folder.

Then open Paint.NET, and you can click Effects > Blurs and Focal Point to open the window shown directly below. First, select an area of the image to keep in focus by dragging the two Focal Point bar sliders left and right. Drag the Focus Area Size bar slider further right to expand the part of the image kept in focus.

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The Blur Factor and Blur Limit bars adjust the amount of blur around the focal point. Drag both bars to the right to increase the blurring effect in the picture. Then you could have output comparable to that below.

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The Fragment Blur Effect

The Fragment option is another interesting blurring effect. This superimposes fragments of the image over the original. Thus, it effectively blurs the picture with multiple copies of the image. To apply this editing, select Effects > Blurs and Fragment to open the tool’s window.

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The Fragment Count bar adjusts the number of copies superimposed over the original. Drag this bar’s slider further right to increase the number of fragments.

However, that will have absolutely no impact on the picture if the Distance bar slider is at the far left. So you should move that bar’s slider further right to increase the distance between the fragments in the photo. Then the picture will be increasingly blurred as below.

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Below those options there’s also a Rotation circle. Drag the line around the circle to configure the angle of the image fragments. For example, a 90 value will move the fragments directly up the photo.

Those are just some of Paint.NET’s blur effects. With those options you can add some intriguing effects to images. They’re great for enhancing the illusion of motion in pictures and for adding a little extra pizazz to otherwise dull photos. 

Posted by Matthew on November 9, 2016

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