Soft Posterization

Soft focus

Pastel colors

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^^hough Photoshop has a posterization adjustment, its dialog offers little control and the results can be harsh and hard-edged. Here's a technique that lets you create posterization that's much softer and easier to control.

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 Change the new layer's blending mode to Difference with Alt/Opt -Shift-E and rename the layer "Difference."

3 Invert the Difference layer using Ctrl/Cmd-I.

6 Drag this new layer to the top of the layer stack, change its blending mode to Exclusion using either the pull-down blending mode menu or the shortcut Alt/Opt-Shift-X, and rename it "Exclusion "

7 Duplicate the Exclusion layer using Ctrl/Cmd-J The image now includes two negative Difference layers and two positive Exclusion layers

4 Using the shortcut Ctrl/Cmd-J, duplicate the Difference layer

5 Return to the background layer and duplicate it by dragging it onto the "Create a new layer" icon, or use Ctrl/Cmd-J

8 Create another copy of the background layer, move the new layer to the top of the layer stack, change its blending mode to Screen using Alt/Opt-Shift-S, and rename it "Screen "

9 If the effect is too muted, try increasing the layer's opacity or changing it to one of the contrast-increasing modes—Overlay is a good start

Here, I applied a Gaussian Blur to the Difference layers A blur radius of 30 exaggerated the posterization effect

Images with plenty of detail are good for showing this recipe's posterization effect

Colored plastic

Working with drab originals

Soft noise

Images with plenty of bright colors work well with this recipe

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The original scene was so drab that I eliminated one of the Exclusion layers and reduced the Screen layer's opacity

Look out for noise—it can either detract from an image or make it a success

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