Sometimes we have good reasons for wanting to hide information. I’m not talking about anything sneaky, just about situations like the one you can see in the screenshot above. This is our lab site, and we have a good shot of Josepha teaching a roomful of kids. We want to use that picture, but we don’t want to show the faces of any of the children. We needed to blur the background enough to render those kids anonymous. We have lots of good designers who can do this for us, but I didn’t want to wait, and I know they don’t want to do that small a job.
I’ve had the same situation arise when blogging for a software developer who wanted to show screen shots of his accounting software with populated fields — but to disguise the names and other identifying details.
If you have access to Photoshop, you can do this yourself — no artistic ability required!
Here’s the picture. We wanted to keep Josepha clear and blur the rest of it.
Use the tool I’ve circled in the picture above. Click on it, hold it, and drag it around the part you want to save. When you get all the way around, it’ll highlight the section you don’t want blurred.
Click on Select (you can see it in the toolbar of the picture above) and choose Invert. Now all the parts that you do want to blur will be selected.
Now click on Filter (up there next to Select), then Blur, and then Gaussian Blur. There are other kinds, but I find that the Gaussian Blur requires no skill.
You will now have an artfully blurred background.
If the part that you want to blur is smaller than the part you want to keep, just highlight it and skip the Invert step. When you click on Blur you’ll have just that section blurred.
When you have big important design jobs, like your header or logo or your web design, you should hire someone. When you just need a little job like this, you can probably fix it yourself. It’s the difference between replacing the transmission and changing the oil.