How to Apply an Iris Blur Effect in Adobe Photoshop

In Brief...

Iris Blur is one of the options in Photoshop's Blur Gallery, which allows selective blurring of some regions of an image while maintaining focal points in others. Iris Blur creates a blur that radiates from the center in all directions. To apply an iris blur to an image, follow these four steps.

This features works the same in Adobe Photoshop CS6 and CC.


  1. Turn the layer to be blurred into a Smart Object by choosing the layer in the Layers Panel, then going to the panel menu and selecting Convert to Smart Object.
    Layer Panel Menu

  2. Go to Filter > Blur Gallery > Iris Blur.
    Iris Blur in Filter Menu

  3. The gallery interface features an Options Bar and Panels with blur controls on the image preview:
    • Ellipse Handles: Drag to make blur shape rounder or more oval, or to rotate.
    • Feather Handles: Drag to adjust where blur begins.
    • Center Pin: Drag to move the focal point.
    • Blur Ring: Drag to adjust the amount of blur.
    • Roundness Handle: Drag to make the blur shape rounder or more rectangular.

    Blur Gallery Interface

  4. Use the blur controls to adjust the focus, shape, and amount of blur. Tip: Hold down the Alt (PC) / Option (Mac) key to isolate and adjust the position of just one Feather Handle.
    Adjusted Iris Blur

Author: Kate Cahill

Kate Cahill is a graphic designer, writer, and creative director who has developed content for print and web. As creative director, she has produced award-winning work for agencies focused on the pharmaceutical, and health and beauty aid industries. She has also served as production manager, with responsibility for the successful fulfillment of long-run print contracts. Kate has been delivering training for Webucator clients since 2010. Her enthusiasm for cutting-edge technology, combined with hands-on practical experience, brings an added benefit to her class. Kate teaches real-world techniques and integration of Adobe software, as well as Microsoft PowerPoint to produce a fully-developed and cohesive brand identity.