Step 2: Soften Image

To dramatically change the character of this digital photo, we are going to apply a few filters to soften the edges and add depth to shadows.

■ First increasing the image to 100% before applying filters so that you can clearly see the effects that you will get is generally a good rule.

You can zoom to 100% by double-clicking the Zoom tool in the Tools palette, or you can choose View ^ Actual Pixels (Alt+Ctrl+0).

■ Press the Spacebar to get the Hand tool; then click the image and drag it up toward the right until you can see the red shirt on the laundry line. Also, look at the brown grass in the bottom-left corner of the image. As you apply effects to the image, check both of these areas to make sure the effects are what you want.

■ Choose Filter ^ Blur ^ Smart Blur to get the Smart Blur dialog box shown in Figure 31.3. When you move your cursor over the preview image in the Smart Blur dialog box, the cursor changes into the Grab tool icon. Click and drag the image around until the red shirt on the laundry line shows in the middle of the preview box.

■ In the Smart Blur dialog box, set Quality to High and Mode to Normal. Try using a Threshold setting of 25.0 and then begin sliding the Radius slider until you get the results you like. I found a Radius setting of 3.0 to be just about right. Click OK to apply the blur.

■ Choose Filter ^ Artistic ^ Poster Edges to get the Poster Edges dialog box shown in Figure 31.4. Once again, click inside the preview box and drag the image around until you can see the red shirt on the laundry line and then look at an area where there are leaves. Experiment with different settings to make sure there are enough dark edges, but not too many. Try setting Edge Thickness, Edge Intensity, and Posterization to 1 , 1 , and 6 respectively. Click OK to apply the effect.

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