Emboss finds the edges in your image and raises them, discarding most of the colors in your image in the angle for the imaginary light source that casts the shadow of the raised surface. Values from 0 degrees (right side of the image) to 90 degrees (directly overhead) and on to 180 degrees (left side of the image) produce a raised effect. From 1 (right) to 90 degrees (directly underneath) to 179 degrees (left) make the image seem to be pressed into the surface.

You can also specify the height of the embossing, from one to 10 pixels. The larger the number is, the greater the 3D effect. Use this control with the Amount slider, described below. You can get some lovely, grainy effects even with only a one-pixel-high emboss if you ramp up the contrast by specifying 500 percent with the Amount slider. Also adjust the amount of embossing, from 1 to 500 percent. I've gotten some great results from using a very small height with a large Amount setting, and vice versa.

On its own, Emboss often isn't particularly useful with some images, since the 3D effect, while interesting, has bland coloration and featureless backgrounds. You'll want to combine this filter with other effectspixelation, distortion, or even sharpeningto create a really outrageous image. Figure 8.32 shows the Trace Contours and Emboss filters applied.

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