Use the Radial Zoom Filter to Imply Movement

Five Steps to creating eye-catching movement in Photoshop
Click Images To Enlarge This Article Features Photo Zoom

I use the radial zoom filter found in Photoshop for two purposes: to imply movement and to focus the viewer’s eye on a specific part of a photo. It’s very easy to use and its power far exceeds its simplicity.

Step 1: Open the original in Photoshop and click on the Layers palette.

Step 2: With the Layers palette open, drag the Background layer to the Create New Layer icon at the bottom of the palette.


Step 3: Access the Radial Blur filter - go to the Filter drag down menu and navigate to Blur>Radial Blur.

Step 4: With the Radial Blur dialog box open, notice a number of options. The Amount  determines how strong the radial lines appear. There is no Preview so it needs to be set on a trial and error basis. In the Blur Method section, I always use Zoom to obtain the radial lines. In Quality, I always choose Good. The Blur Center allows you to set the point to where the lines converge by dragging the midpoint where you want it. Click OK and the effect is applied to the Background copy. If it’s too much or not enough, redo it and change the Amount slider.

Step 5: The magic starts with the addition of a layer mask to the Background copy. To add one, click on the Add Layer Mask icon at the bottom of the layers palette. Access the paintbrush and set the opacity to 30% in the Options bar at the top of the Photoshop workspace. Make sure the foreground color is set to black. Use a soft edge and begin to paint away the zoom effect where you don’t want it to appear. Continue to paint the areas you want to restore back to reality.

If you make a mistake and need to paint some zoom back into the image, switch the foreground color to White and paint over the area you want to correct. Be sure to use a very soft edge brush if you want the effect to look gradual.

The finished version is a matter of personal taste.


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