Hiking Map Contours

Iost effective with pictures containing lots of detail, this recipe takes advantage of some Photoshop filters that produce an image that is mostly white. Find Edges is probably the most commonly used of this group, but another is Trace Contours. This filter outputs a basic contour map by joining together all pixels matching the brightness value that you choose in the Trace Contours dialog box.

You can create an effect like a hiking map's contours by adding many such layers and setting their blending mode to Multiply or another member of the "Darken" group. Because white is the neutral color of these modes, it is stripped out of the filtered layer, and you are left with just colored contour lines. Overlay a few such contour maps and you can produce some really interesting results.

1 In the Layers palette, duplicate the original image layer by dragging the background layer onto the "Create a new layer" icon, or use Ctrl/Cmd-J

2 Using either the pulldown blending mode menu in the Layers palette or the shortcut Alt/Opt-Shift-M, change the new layer's blending mode to Multiply and name it "Multiply"

3 Set the Multiply layer's opacity to between 50 and 70%

4 Apply some blur using Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur—a radius value of 10 is enough

5 Make a number of copies of the Multiply layer It's easiest to use Ctrl/Cmd-J to do this

6 Hide the Background layer by clicking on the eye icon.

7 On each Multiply layer, run Filter > Stylize > Trace Contour and enter a different value each time Start with a value of around 200 and work downward, maybe reducing the value by the same amount each time—so, 200, then 180, then 160 After the first time you apply it, remember to use Ctrl/ Cmd-Alt/Opt-F to quickly display the Trace Contour dialog again

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To save time when you add the layers, record an action like this and set the Trace Contour step so that its dialog box is displayed.

Soft contours

With this dark picture, I only added three contours and felt it looked better with some of the original showing through

Multiple contours

This colorful image can take a lot of contours Also, the more contours, the less the need to restore the original

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This old pump contains lots of detail and needed few contours As usual, I leave the original hidden, just in case I want to add more layers

Try using this recipe on faces Here, I needed to trace contours at brightness intervals of 30

Here, I combined Trace Contour with Find Edges, another filter that outputs a largely white image

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Original image.

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