Gaussian Blur Tutorial

Gaussian blur, also called Gaussian smoothing, is a great filter to use on photographs where you want to smooth out imperfections in the skin, give it a dreamlike appearance, or just soften it. This is one of my favorite filters, and I use it all the time so I thought I’d do a Gaussian Blur tutorial so you can enjoy it too!

baby with soft skin

If you like glowy, dreamy photographs, this filter effect is for you. Here’s how you do it:

1. Begin by opening a photograph you want to soften and smooth. Notice the one I have of the baby above.

2. At the top of your screen, go to “Layer” then “Duplicate Layer” underneath that. You won’t see any noticeable change.

Gaussian Blur Tutorial

3. Now go to “Filter,” then, “Blur,” and “Gaussian Blur.”

Gaussian Blur Tutorial

4. You’ll see a little box come up with “Gaussian Blur” at the top. I set my radius to around 17-20 pixels. You can play around with this when you get familiar with the effect. It’s the opacity in the next step that makes the biggest difference. Press “OK.”

Gaussian Blur Tutorial

5. Next go to your “Layers” box. See below. Play with the opacity until the photograph has the effect you want. I left my opacity at 61 percent for this photograph. If it’s an adult with their eyes open, I, typically, leave it around 20 percent.

6. Now flatten your image. You can continue editing it over the filter if you want.

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Gaussian Blur Tutorial

You can see the difference in the before and after photographs below:

Gaussian Blur Tutorial

This is with the filter applied:

Gaussian Blur Tutorial


The Gaussian blur mimics that lovely bokeh look you get when using a wide aperature. Give it a try. Here’s a video tutorial I made showing the steps. Sorry, there’s a watermark. I’m still experimenting with various screencast software.

How do you soften your photographs? Have you used the Gaussian Blur before? Let me know in the comments:)

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