I have a rectangle shape, nothing added or changed. It needs to be a bit transparent but what I want is that anything that is behind the shape becomes blurred. This means that wehereever I move the shape, whatever is behind the shape gets blurred.

How can I do this?

like this http://gamersrespawn.co.uk/uploads/monthly_2015_10/starwars_battlefront_screen_gres9.jpg.e6a467ce8261a22d240eb74cd9b9f9ff.jpg

Like this ˆ.


3 Answers 3


You can achieve this using a combination of smart filters & clipping masks.

enter image description here

  • First create all the shapes you want to use as blurred areas and add them to a new group
  • With the background image you want blurred selected go to Filters -> Convert for Smart Filter. This will convert the image to a smart object and allow you to apply filters non-destructively. (It's important to do this before duplicating the layer so that any future changes will automatically update both the background and the copy)
  • Duplicate the background image and place above the group in the layers panel
  • Apply your desired blur (as a filter) to the copy of the background
  • Create a clipping mask from the blurred copy. Do this either by ALT+CLICK between the blurred layer and the group or by selecting the blurred layer and selecting Layer -> Create Clipping Mask

You can then use blending modes or opacity etc if you want the color of the shapes to show through.

You can then move/change anything in that group and it will show a blurred version of the background. The fact that the background is a smart object means you can also edit the background and it will automatically update the blurred copy too.

Adding all the shapes to one group isn't essential, but you will need to duplicate the background layer and add as a clipping mask for each different shape otherwise.

  • Good option, I have not tried it but the idea is solid. Ignore my answer, I will leave it there for the record only and for simpler look and implementation.
    – user45605
    Jan 18, 2016 at 23:28
  • well done, well done.
    – zonabi
    Oct 31, 2017 at 2:11

You may need to settle for increased or decreased luminance of the area covered by the rectangle. Blur requires pixel-pushing. If luminance variation is acceptable, do the following:

  1. Put a new layer above the background
  2. Fill it with either white or black
  3. Change its opacity to suit the need and taste

In the sample below, the white rectangle has 50% opacity, the black, 25%.

enter image description here

  • So what you mean is that there is no way in Photoshop to "live update" the pixels behind the shape, blurring them? It needs to have the same image duplicated but with gaussian blur applied to it right? Jan 18, 2016 at 20:35
  • Not one I know. Because "blurriness" has to come from the pixels behind the rectangle. No matter how "blurry" you make the rectangle it will not blur the background pixels. I may be wrong, but that's all I can offer.
    – user45605
    Jan 18, 2016 at 20:38

This is the current iOS effect, it's like frosted glass. It looks great.

But Photoshop cannot accomplish this effect on-the-fly. It can only be applied on a per-object basis as discussed above. Unfortunately you can't have a "blur layer" only a blurred object.

  • Such a shame though. Jan 19, 2016 at 12:56
  • Someone will develop it, perhaps as a plug-in. There is increasing demand to replicate the effect.
    – user57563
    Jan 19, 2016 at 17:12

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