You frequently see censored images in newspapers, magazines and on the television. Pixelation is most often used to blur out the features of people to preserve their privacy. Whether it’s to protect the children of celebrities, a car number plate or a person’s private parts that have wrestled their way out of their clothes, there is a Photoshop filter to help censor those images. Here’s a really quick way to give your images that censored look using the Pixelate filter in Photoshop.

1. Open up the image that you want to censor. I’m using a wallpaper of the movie poster for Leap Year which I downloaded from I don’t know anything about the movie, I was just looking for an image with a couple of faces in it.


2. Draw a circular selection around the man’s face using the Elliptical Marquee tool (M).


3. Press Ctrl + J (win) or Cmd + J (Mac) to duplicate and copy the selection onto a new layer.


4. With the new layer selected, choose Filter > Pixelate > Mosaic. This opens the Mosaic dialog box. Make sure the Preview check box is selected so you can see how the image will be affected.


Choosing a low number for the cell size produces a small but noticeable level of pixelation. Dragging the slider to higher cell sizes produces massive “pixels”. For this image I chose a cell size of 8. The final image looks like this. Now who on earth is that man?


The Pixelate filter is good fun to play around with. Here’s another example, this time using an movie still from the film “The Hurt Locker” (best film of 2009 for me). Using the same method as above, I selected a strip across the main character’s face and duplicated it on a new layer and applied a mosaic with a cell size of about 20. Then I added a drop shadow and an inner glow to make the mosaic strip stand out a little more and finally added some text.

The Hurt Locker

And there you have it. Do you ever use the Pixelate filter?

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Jennifer Farley is a designer, illustrator and design instructor based in Ireland. She writes about design and illustration on her blog at Laughing Lion Design.

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