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Chapter 4. Filters and Effects > Introduction to Filters

Introduction to Filters

There are many types of filters. We'll cover some basic filters that are used on almost every project. A very advanced description of filters is in Appendix B. You may want to skip to that now just to get an idea of what Photoshop filters can do. We'll give you a general description of what each group of filters does. As we have in Appendix B, we've borrowed with permission the descriptions from the Adobe Photoshop Help file.

  • Artistic filters achieve a painterly or special effect for a fine arts or commercial project. For example, use the Cutout filter for collages or type treatment. These filters replicate natural or traditional media effects.

  • Blur filters soften a selection or an image. Blur filters are useful for retouching. They smooth transitions by averaging the pixels next to the hard edges of defined lines and shaded areas in an image.


    To apply a Blur filter to the edges of a layer, be sure to deselect the Preserve Transparency option in the Layers palette.

  • Brush Stroke filters, like the Artistic filters, give a painterly or fine-arts look using different brush and ink stroke effects. Some of the filters add grain, paint, noise, edge detail, or texture to an image for a pointillist effect.

  • Distort filters geometrically distort an image, creating 3D or other reshaping effects. Note that these filters can be very memory intensive.

  • Noise filters add or remove noise, or pixels, with randomly distributed color levels. This helps to blend a selection into the surrounding pixels. Noise filters can create unusual textures or remove problem areas, such as dust and scratches, from an image. The Add Noise filter can be used to reduce banding in feathered selections or graduated fills or to give a more realistic look to heavily retouched areas.

  • Pixelate filters sharply define a selection by clumping pixels of similar color values in cells.

  • Render filters create 3D shapes, cloud patterns, refraction patterns, and simulated light reflections in an image. You can also manipulate objects in 3D space, create 3D objects (cubes, spheres, and cylinders), and create texture fills from grayscale files to produce 3D-like effects for lighting. When using the Clouds filter, generate a more stark cloud pattern by holding down Alt (Windows) or Option (Mac) as you choose Filter>Render>Clouds.

  • Sharpen filters focus blurry images by increasing the contrast of adjacent pixels. They include the Sharpen Edges and Unsharp Mask filters, which find and sharpen areas where significant color changes occur (such as the edges). The Unsharp Mask filter is commonly used for high-end color and Web corrections.

  • Sketch filters add texture to images, often for a 3D effect. The filters also are useful for creating a fine-arts or hand-drawn look. Many of the Sketch filters use the foreground and background color as they redraw the image. For a truer effect, change the foreground color to one of the common Conté Crayon colors (black, sepia, sanguine) before applying the filter.

  • Stylize filters produce a painted or impressionistic effect on a selection by displacing pixels and by finding and heightening contrast in an image. After using filters such as Find Edges and Trace Contour that highlight edges, you can apply the Invert command to outline the edges of a color image with colored lines or to outline the edges of a grayscale image with white lines.

  • Texture filters give images the appearance of depth or substance, or add an organic look.

  • Video filters include the NTSC (National Television Standards Committee) Color filter, which restricts the gamut of colors to those acceptable for television reproduction, and the De-Interlace filter, which smoothes moving images captured on video.

  • Other filters let you create your own filters, use filters to modify masks, offset a selection within an image, and make quick color adjustments.

  • Digimarc filters embed a digital watermark into an image to store copyright information.



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