Figure 8.20. Use two gradients to create a split-filter effect in Photoshop.

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4. Select your two colors as the foreground and background colors, using your favorite method (the Eyedropper tool in the Swatches Palette works for me).

5. Drag from the top to the bottom of one of the transparent layers, holding down the Shift key to make sure you drag in a straight line. This applies the foreground color as a gradient in that layer.

6. Press X to swap the foreground and background colors.

7. Drag from the bottom to the top in the other transparent layer to create the lower half of your split filter.

8. Choose Layer > Merge Visible to combine these two layers.

9. Save your split-filter document so you can use it as you want.

10. To use the "filter," copy the filter layer and paste it into the image you want to use it with, resizing so the filter covers the entire image. Use the Darken or Multiply layer modes to merge the filter layer with the underlying image without completely obscuring it. Figure 8.21 shows one typical result.

Filter Special Effects Photoshop


Modifying Images with Photoshop's Filters

Photoshop's own filters offer a wealth of special effects you can apply to your photographs. Other than the Photo Filters, they may not resemble the filter effects you can get with conventional glass or gelatin filters, but that's the whole point. Photoshop lets you go beyond the limits of both film and digital cameras to create entirely new looks. This section will explore some of the things you can do with Photoshop's own filters.

The section will not cover every one of the 100+ Photoshop filters. Many of the filters, such as the Sharpen, Blur, Grain, and Lens Flare filters were covered in other chapters. Quite a few other filters, such as the Offset filter, do things that aren't particularly useful from a photographic standpoint, but which are consummately handy for other applications, such as creating seamless backgrounds for web pages. Instead, in this section we'll look at the best of the rest. I won't stick rigidly to Photoshop's filter menu hierarchy, either. Filters that provide painterly effects will be grouped together, while those that add textures or drawing effects will be bundled among their own.

I've found that the easiest way to compare filter effects is to compare the same image as it is transmogrified by a variety of different filters, so the examples in this section will use the same basic image, shown in Figure 8.22, in our examples. I have to warn you that not all filters look good with human subjects.

Figure 8.22. This picture is our starting point for the filters that follow.

Figure 8.22. This picture is our starting point for the filters that follow.

Painting Filters

If you want to create pictures that look like they were painted, Photoshop offers some great filters. You can get brush strokes without ever touching a brush. You'll find these filters in Photoshop's Artistic, Brush Strokes, and Sketch submenus in particular. Digital effects applied with these filters can produce results in seconds that can't easily be achieved by an artist equipped with brush, paints, and traditional tools. It's also fairly easy to generate effects that are strongly reminiscent of the styles of "real" artists, using a group of filters found in the Pixelate and Stylize menus of Photoshop.

These kinds of filters all have one thing in common: They reduce the amount of information in an image by combining or moving pixels. Some overlay an image with a texture or pattern, while other plug-ins group similar colors together or transform groups of hues into new tones. The result is an image that has been softened, broken up, selectively increased in contrast, or otherwise "pixelated."

At first glance, these filters seem to have turned a photograph into a painting. Instead of the harsh reality of the original image, we have a softer, more organic picture that appears to have been created, rather than captured.

This document is created with trial version of CHM2PDF Pilot 2.16.100. Just as the crystal clarity of video productions adds realism to documentaries and intimacy to videotaped stage plays or situation comedies, original photographs look real to us. For romantic stories and fantasy images, motion picture film provides a softer look with a feeling of distance, much like digital processing of still images. Would

Star Wars or Forrest Gump have been as effective if originated on video, even though both contain digital effects? Do your hyper-realistic original photos qualify as portraits?

Of course, both kinds of images have their place. Painting-oriented filters are excellent for portraits, figure studies, or landscapes in which fine detail is not as important as general form, colors, or groups of shapes. Indeed, brushstrokes or other textures can mask defects, disguise or diminish distracting portions of an image, and create artful images from so-so photographs. That's especially true when the original image was too sharp, or, paradoxically, not sharp enough. Filters can tone down excessive detail while masking the lack of it.

You'll want to select your subjects for painting filters carefully. Pictures of older men and women may not look right when you blur all those hard-won wrinkles and character lines. Teenagers of both sexes, on the other hand, may prize the improvement to their complexions. Judicious application of a painting filter can add some softness to a glamour portrait, too.

Keep in mind that painting filters mimic, but do not duplicate the efforts of an artist. In real paintings, each brush stroke is carefully applied with exactly the right size, shape, and direction needed to provide a particular bit of detail. Years of experience and a good dose of artistic vision tell the artist where and how to put down those strokes.

A filter, in contrast, can base its operation only on algorithms built into it by the programmer. A skilled software designer can take advantage of variables such as lightness, darkness, contrast, and so forth to produce the illusion that an organic human, and not a silicon simulacrum, is behind the effect. You can further enhance the image by using your own judgment in applying parameters and choosing which sections of the picture are to be processed by a filter. However, you won't exactly duplicate the efforts of an artist with one of these plug-ins.

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