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Creating a glowing blurred border

This is a fun way to finish off some of your experimental pieces that you create in Photoshop. I love this particular border for expressionistic, impressionistic, or surreal pieces, or for anything that doesn't use a lot of hard edges. This method allows the border to blur and glow, while keeping the central image as sharp as you want it.

1. Open your completed image in Photoshop.

2. Make 2 duplicate layer copies of the image.

3. Add a canvas border to the background copy, using the color picker tool to find a color that looks good with the piece. Duplicate this layer, keeping this copy below the two other duplicates. Lock your original layer and work from now on with the other three layers.

4. Pick the middle layer. Apply the motion blur filter (Filter > Blur > Motion Blur) to the image. I used 50 for the angle and 150 pixels. Experiment to find the size that suits you best.

5. Pick the bottom layer. Apply the motion blur filter to this one too, but use a different angle and pixel number. I used 60 and 200.

6. Pick the middle layer again. Add the layer style effect called outer glow to the image. Experiment with size and shape. I made mine pretty big so that it would be obvious in this example.

7. Use the eraser tool to remove the hard edge from around the top layer.

Copyright 2009 Cyndi Lavin. Not to be reprinted, resold, or redistributed for profit. May be printed out for personal use or distributed electronically provided that entire file, including this notice, remains intact.

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Unknown said…
Interesting, I think I might just have a go at this technique.
Cyndi L said…
I'd love to see what you do with it!
Eileen said…
Yours is so neat. I just tried it and I'm not as pleased with mine. I know ... practice makes perfect.

Does the size of the image you are working with affect the amount of blur to give? You used a lot of blur but the image is still recognizable. Mine wasn't :-O
Cyndi L said…
Eileen, I am so sorry! It's totally my fault for not proof-reading more carefully...step 5 should say the bottom layer, not the top. I'm going to fix it now.