Faded background blur using Gaussian Blur

For PhotoImpact X3 (will probably also work with version 12).

Before:

Cat

After:

Cat blurred

Open the image which you want to work on. Use CTRL-D to make a duplicate of the image, close the original (so that you can't change it by mistake).

Select the lasso tool:

Lasso tool

Tick the 'Smart lasso' box, and set the 'Area to consider when tracing' to 30, to determine the area that the Smart lasso will consider when tracing the edges.

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Click to mark the starting point and then trace the subject you want to select by moving the mouse over the edges of the subject. The circle is 30 pixels wide, and indicates the 'Area to consider when tracing'.
You don't need to hold down the mouse button.

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When you have finished tracing round your object, once your cursor reaches the starting point, you'll see a square next to the circle - click on the starting point, and the selection will be complete. (See next image).

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The squares will turn purple to show you have completed the selection. Click on the tick at the top of the page, 'Generate lasso selection', to finish. The cat is now selected.

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If you need to fine tune your selection, you can edit it in great detail by using the 'Edit path object' function.

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You can then drag the bezier curves that form the selection, to clean up the selection. (I rushed the example below for the purposes of creating these instructions, normally the selection would be much cleaner, but it does take a few minutes to do it properly.)

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In order to cut out the background, rather than the cat, RIGHT click on the image, anywhere outside of the cat, and choose 'Invert'. This selects everything BUT the original selection - i.e. the background, rather than the cat.

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You'll see that the selection lines now also go round the outside of the image, to show that the background has been selected.

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Press CTRL-D to duplicate the image. We need two copies of the image - we are going to blur the backround of the first image, then paste over the unblurred background from the second image, and fade it out, so that only some of it appears unblurred.

On the original image, (which should still have the background selected), choose Photo, Blur, Gaussian Blur.

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Then choose 'Options'.

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You will then see the following screen, with the cat 'cut out', so you can see that the blur is only being applied to the background image. Set the blur to around 20, you can choose more or less if you want to increase the effect. Press 'OK' and you will see the background has now been blurred, and the cat now stands out against the background.

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You can finish here if you like the results, but you may want blur only the upper part of the image, as follows...

Click the second image on the background (not on the cat), press CRTL-C and then CTRL-SHIFT-V, to 'Paste as new image'.

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You will then have a third image:

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Press CTRL-C, select the first image, and press CTRL-V. The background will change from blurred to unblurred, as the third image is pasted over the first image.

Then select 'Edit' and 'Fade-out...'.

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Make sure the fill type is the arrow pointing down, and select 'Fill color, Two-color'. The image in the bottom right hand corner shows you the sort of 'fill fade out' you are creating - the black part is the most faded part - at the top - meaning that the unblurred image will be completely invisible at the top, so you will only see the blurred image, through it.

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Press 'Enter' to unselect the selection. I would advise saving the file as a .ufo file (Photoimpact format) first, then save it as a .jpg. If you don't save your documents in Photoimpact format first, you won't be able to edit or re-use the selections you have spent so much time making, if you only have a .jpg file.

Here is the final image.

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