Apply subtle motion blurring in Photoshop with Smart Filters and masks for non-destructive editing
Open your image up and duplicate its Background layer by pressing Cmd/Ctrl+J. Go to the Filter menu and click on Convert for Smart Filters. The duplicate layer should take on a small symbol signifying it’s a Smart Object.
Go back into the Filter menu and to Blur>Motion Blur. Adapt the Blur’s Angle to suit the direction of the subject, and then increase Amount to add blur. Hit OK and head to the Layers palette.
The Layers palette should now contain the Motion Blur filter visible underneath the layer, with a mask attached to it. Click on this mask and then press Cmd/Ctrl+I to turn it black (this will hide the blur effect).
Select the Eraser tool, making sure your Foreground colour is set to black, and keep the opacity set to 100%. Erase over the subject’s back to reveal the Motion Blur filter. By painting over these areas selectively, the effect can be applied subtly, and in a controlled fashion.
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