May
20

Photoshop’s Blur, Sharpen and Smudge tools

by
Matt Bennett

Sitting in the toolbar of Photoshop is a collection of very useful image editing tools all under one button. We show you how to use them!

Before
Before
After
After

While images can be blurred or sharpened using Photoshop’s range of filters, sometimes only small, localised adjustments need to be applied.

The Blur, Sharpen and Smudge tools are especially effective when you need to tidy up a cutout object. In this example, we’ll show you how to use the Smudge tool to create convincing fur and how to use the Blur and Sharpen tools to add depth and realism.

Step 1 – Smudge tool

Step 1 - Smudge tool
Step 1 - Smudge tool

The fur edges need to be defined. Select the Smudge tool, set its strength to 90% and zoom in close. Pick a small brush, around 2 pixels, and now just click on the mane and drag the pixels outwards. Keep varying the brush size and strength to keep it natural.

Step 2 – Blur tool

Step 2 - Blur tool
Step 2 - Blur tool

Sometimes the fur can look too obviously fake, so adding a soft blur to some of the edges adds to the realism. Select the Blur tool at around 30% Strength and paint over the fur edges to soften. Increase or decrease the Strength and brush size if needed in the top toolbar.

Step 3 – Sharpen tool

Step 3 - Sharpen tool
Step 3 - Sharpen tool

The Sharpen tool is best used at a low strength to start off with. Build up the Sharpening gradually or the pixels will look tool obvious. The higher the resolution of your photo, the higher the Strength can be. Remember that you can add more – so start off low.

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