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Photoshop: Favorite Filters, Uncommon Uses for Common Filters, Etc.

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  • Photoshop: Favorite Filters, Uncommon Uses for Common Filters, Etc.

    The filters that come with Photoshop do what their names imply pretty well, but as we've all found out, they can be made to do much more than that!

    In this thread I'd like to share things we've discovered about PS filters which makes us want to use them over and over. For example, Gland mentioned that she made the ice on her boat (forum photo art mini-challenge #12) by using the glowing edges filter then using the wind filter on that. This tip helped me, as I remembered it and used a similar technique in forum mini-challenge #13 (Brooklyn) to do a radial blur on an outline to make it look as though the sun's rays were streaking down through the trees.

    So, if you have some favorite filters that you use a lot, tell us why, or if you have found a new use for an "old" filter, tell us about it. Why spend time and money looking around for new plug-ins when there is still a LOT more we can do with the built-in basics!


  • #2
    New use for unsharp mask

    I'll go first. A while back I discovered this by sharpening a picture badly, then thought, "hey, I wonder..." and sure enough, I found a new use for an old friend!

    This will add shadows, form, and dimension to objects in a picture. Shadows always spread from light areas to dark areas, so keep that in mind.

    Open "unsharp mask" and notice there are three sliders. The top one controls how much of the effect you get, the middle one is radius, the bottom one threshhold. It's the middle slider that adds the shadows. If you set the middle slider wayyyyy to the right, you will see them. Use the top slider to control the darkness/lightness of the shadows and the bottom one to keep more color in the shadows if they turn too black.

    The attached sample shows the effects with and without threshhold adjustment.

    Now it's your turn. What's one of your own favorite PS filter tricks? Whether it was your idea or something you learned from a tutorial, book, or friend, doesn't matter. Of course you will want to give credit to a source if you know of one. (As for this idea, I'm probably not the first person to do this, and surely it's been suggested somewhere, but since I don't know where I can't give credit if it's due.)

    Attached Files


    • #3
      addendum to last post

      I should have mentioned that this effect makes very large shadows when used on a whole picture, and it is not just for shading small objects, as the sample jpeg might suggest. For example, I used it all over the night picture I made of a boat for forum mini-challenge #12, to brighten up the dull flat result I got from blending an inverted layer with difference mode. It gave shape and dimension to the whole boat and sails etc. It really makes a huge difference on flat lifeless pictures that can't be fixed by simply adjusting contrast/brightness.



      • #4
        High Pass inverse and outer glow

        I'm sure you could get close to this effect with the layers effects and outer glow, but this seems faster and easier. Works on B/W - not tried color with it. Quick, easy, three-step process.

        The example here was cropped close for size, but original was centered on 8 x 10. Noticing the cutoff at the edges in the final, you would obviously want to allow extra room for the "glow"

        Attached Files


        • #5
          A while back, someone - was it you Doug? - posted a sharpening trick using the "high pass" filter. I can't find that posting now, but it went something like this:

          After you've finished with tone/color corrections and fixed any damage, flatten the image (or merge the layers) Duplicate the flattened image and run the high pass filter at about 2 or 3 (if I remember correctly) next, run gaussian blur at about twice the high pass number. Now under the edit menu, select "fade gaussian blur" and fade it to about 65% and set the blending mode to darken click OK. Now set the blending mode for this layer you've been working on to "hard light" - the result is a nice sharpened effect without the halos you sometimes get from "unsharp mask"

          Sorry if I've messed up the instructions a bit, but you get the idea and maybe someone can find the original post.



          • #6
            Making things G-L-O-W

            As you know if you use KPT or BuzzPro etc. you can add plug-ins to make PS's filters do more than they normally do. These programs can make new effects by automatically combining features of PS's filters in different ways. I have an old version of KPT that has a filter I use a lot to make things "glow" ...especially good for hair, lights at night, etc. It's in the "blur" category and is called "electrify." Well, it turns out that you can electrify just as well without KPT! I found this out quite by accident last week, and want to share it with you.

            To make an electric glow:

            1. On a dupe layer do a "dust & scratches" (the one in this sample is set to 7)
            2. Blend that layer to the original layer with "lighten." Voila!

            Here is a sample of the effect and how it compares to KPT's electrify.

            Attached Files


            • #7
              High Pass for Mask Making

              HIGH PASS: In conjunction with a levels adjustment layer, High Pass can be used as part of a mask-making technique.

              Check the Channels palette and duplicate the channel with the greatest contrast between, say, a foreground subject and a background you want to remove. Select all on this new alpha channel, copy, switch to the layers palette and paste into a new layer.

              Apply the High Pass filter (low end of the radius scale) until you see a slight "glow" around the object of interest and click OK.

              Then apply a Levels adjustment layer and tweak the sliders toward the center. This should further enhance the distinction between what you want to keep and what you want to remove.

              Create a new layer and merge the Levels adjustment layer and the High Pass layer into it. Paint with black and/or white to clean up the layer.

              Select all, switch back to the Channels palette, create a new channel and paste the finished mask into it.

              Note: Sometimes this works great; sometimes it don't.


              • #8
                Photo Art Filter Tricks

                Here are a few for the Photo-Art enthusiasts.

                = = = = = =
                OCEAN RIPPLES

                Under the right circumstances and settings, this filter can render a "real arty" look to an image.

                If not overused Crystalize sometimes works well for this purpose.

                = = = = = =
                SMART BLUR / EDGE ONLY

                This can be used as an alternative to Find Edges for (guess what?) finding edges. Don't forget to invert the layer (CTRL+I) after the filter runs.

                Rule of Thumb that I sometimes follow: A radius value of approximatly 50% of the Threshold value.

                Sometimes the lines generated by Smart Blur/Edge Only need some meat. If so, try running the POSTER EDGES filter.

                = = = = = =
                GLOWING EDGES

                This filter is better than Find Edges at finding edges. Find Edges has no options. What you see is what you get. Not so with Glowing Edges.

                Run the Glowing Edges filter and make settings as desired. Then invert (CTRL+I) the resulting image. Desaturate if desired. Find Edges on steroids.

                = = = = = =
                GET THE NOISE OUT

                After getting your edges via Find Edges, Glowing Edges or Smart Blur/Edge Only and, if necessary, desaturating the layer, apply a Levels adjustment layer. Then adjust the sliders to "eliminate a lot of the noise," resulting in a cleaner, less noisy layer.

                = = = = = =

                Since white is the "neutral color" of Multiply, you can make the white on a layer "disappear" by choosing this blend mode.

                Works great on the Find Edges, Glowing Edges and/or Smart Blur/Edge only black-on-white layers created as described above.

                = = = = = =
                COLORED PENCIL

                Sometimes renders great; sometimes leaves big holes of "nothingness," especially in black or very dark areas.

                Remedy if this happens: Before running Colored Pencil, run ADD NOISE filter with a low amount of noise (2-5 usually does it).

                = = = = = =

                Watercolor, Dry Brush, Fresco, Sumi and others sometimes render interesting textures, but tend to really muck up colors, often introducing unwanted darkness.

                Plan B:
                Duplicate the target layer. Run your texturing filter of choise. Apply the Emboss filter and change the blend mode to Overlay. Result: Texture without hosing the colors.

                = = = = = =
                ART HISTORY BRUSH
                Keeping opacity in the 70%-85% range allows strokes to "overlap."

                Use larger strokes / brushes for background and non-detail areas; use smaller brushes for detail areas.

                = = = = = =
                Duplicate Background layer and convert to Grayscale (either via Desaturate command or Channel Mixer adjustment layer set to 'monochrome.')

                Take a snapshot of the (color) Background layer; set the History Brush source state to the snapshot just taken. Create a new layer and, with the History Brush, colorize areas as desired.


                • #9
                  SHARPEN with HIGH PASS or EMBOSS

                  HIGH PASS
                  1. Duplicate background layer.
                  2. Background copy: Desaturate
                  3. Background copy: High Pass (low radius)
                  4. Background copy: Set blend to Soft Light or Overlay
                  5. Background copy: Adjust Opacity as needed. A layer mask may also be applied for selective application of the effect.

                  Duplicate the High Pass layer to multiply the effect.

                  In step 3 above use the Emboss filter instead; Height and Amount (contrast) settings should be fairly low. You may need to clone over some noisy areas to avoid "sharpening noise."


                  • #10
                    Best tip ever!

                    Danny, your tip for ADDING TEXTURE w/o MESSING UP THE COLORS is the most amazing thing I've seen in a long time--what a useful and easy idea! Thank you for sharing it...I tried it and now I can't wait to use it over and over and over...and over.



                    • #11
                      Texture without messing up colors

                      You can also use lighting effects for greater control on the texture. See this:



                      • #12
                        Plastic-wrap and Neon-glow

                        I finally found a use for the artistic-->plastic-wrap filter, which I'd never used before. Set it to low detail and maximum smoothness till it coats the whole face and it can be used to make girls look like Barbie dolls! Not that you would necessarily want a plastic face, but you can reduce the opacity of the layer to get a bit of smooth highlighting to softly accent nose, chin, brows, and cheekbones. I used it on challenge #8 (link below) which I named "golden girl," but didn't reduce the opacity as much as I would if I wanted a more photo-realistic result.

                        I also found a use for the neon-glow filter. Using luminosity blending mode made the golden glow around her face and eyes.

                        Two filters, which I'd previously considered useless, and I ended up using them both in one picture...PS is full of surprises! Anyone know another use for either the plastic-wrap or the neon-glow filter?

                        Last edited by Guest; 08-23-2002, 02:22 AM.


                        • #13

                          This is absolutely one of my favorite PS filters!

                          It makes sharp edges into soft wavy lines, so gets rid of jaggies and oversharpened filter effects (such as when you blend with difference, or use a fake painting filter with a sharp setting). Works best on pics with sharp and/or noisy areas; in fact, if you add noise you can get a neat all-over pattern effect.

                          It also makes lovely wavy shapes from the lines that is very artistic in itself.

                          The only problem with it that I have found is that it works by making large squares of the swirly pattern, so sometimes the seams are visible. I have always been able to get around this though by turning the canvas 45 or 90 degrees then applying it a second time and sharpening a bit to get rid of the excess softness. It's a nuisance, but for all it does, a bit of extra trouble is a small price to pay for the anisotropic diffuse effect!

                          Here is an example of anisotropic diffuse used on the tiger cub from manipulation challenge #8. I ran it twice, sharpened the green channel, then applied paint daubs to provide some extremely sharp-edged areas, then ran anisotropic diffuse a final time to get this result.

                          Attached Files
                          Last edited by Guest; 10-15-2002, 10:08 AM.


                          • #14
                            Great Use for Craquelure Filter!

                            Texture-->craquelure is excellent for embossing in one step! It doesn't affect the color of the pic at all, as the emboss or lighting methods do, nor does it require multiple steps like the others.

                            Normally you use this to make cracks and crazing in pictures, but I found that if you set all the sliders to zero, you get a great embossed look! And it's just the right depth for a picture around 600 - 800 pixels wide. So easy! Now that I've found this method, I doubt I will ever emboss a picture any other way!



                            • #15
                              Don't ignore the displace filter.

                              When I just did retouching and wanted photos only to look like photos, I seldom if ever used the distort-->displace filter. Lately, however, I've been doing a lot of photo art in Danny's forum mini-challenges, and today I finally remembered this filter existed and decided to make use of it.

                              It's a great way to make fake can get all sorts of brushstroke looks etc. from choosing different textures. You can also add your own textures, of course, to extend the possibilities. Most textures give good results with amount settings from 5 - 15, and "tiles" and "wrap around" for the type of displacement.

                              Since the filter displaces only northwest to southeast, it is helpful to rotate your canvas 90 degrees if you want to apply the texture to the edges it missed the first time, or to add a new texture perhaps.

                              If you want a heavy paint look, use the craquelure filter mentioned above to emboss your new "painting."

                              Different blending modes will bring out different areas of the texture, depending on whether they are dark or light, so you can often adjust your results to get a really great look if you experiment a bit. And you will probably want to move the displaced dupe layer a bit to match up with the original picture again before blending.

                              Last edited by Guest; 11-01-2002, 01:09 AM.


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