Reflecting an image in a spoon

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Most folks take their first venture into distortion filters by using Pinch and Spherize. Pinch maps an image on the inside of a sphere or similarly curved surface; Spherize maps it on the outside of a sphere. It's sort of like looking at your reflection on the inside and outside of a spoon.

You can apply Pinch to a scanned face to squish the features toward the center or apply Spherize to accentuate the girth of the nose. Figure 11-13 illustrates both effects. It's a laugh, and you pretty much feel as though you're onto something that no one else ever thought of before. (At least that's how I felt — but I'm easily amazed.)

You can pinch or spherize an image using either the Pinch or Spherize command. Figure 11-14 shows the dialog boxes for both filters. Note that a positive Amount value in the Pinch dialog box produces a similar effect to a negative value in the Spherize dialog box. There is a slight difference between the spatial curvature of the 3D calculations: Pinch pokes the image inward or outward using a rounded cone — we're talking bell-shaped, much like a Gaussian model. Spherize wraps the image on the outside or inside of a true sphere. As a result, the two filters yield subtly different results. Pinch produces a soft transition around the perimeter of a selection; Spherize produces an abrupt transition. If this doesn't quite make sense to you, just play with one, try out the same effect with the other, and see which you like better.

Another difference between the two filters is that Spherize provides the additional options of enabling you to wrap an image on the inside or outside of a horizontal or vertical cylinder. To try out these effects, select the Horizontal Only or Vertical Only options from the Mode pop-up menu at the bottom of the Spherize dialog box.

Figure 11-13: Constantine does the popular throbbing facial dance — well, it was popular back in A.D. 300 — thanks to the Pinch (left) and Spherize (right) filters.
Pinch Photoshop
Figure 11-14: Both the Pinch and Spherize dialog boxes let you pinch and spherize images. Pinch wraps an image on a rounded cone; Spherize wraps onto a sphere.

Tip Both filters can affect elliptical regions only. If a selection outline is not elliptical,

Photoshop applies the filter to the largest ellipse that fits inside the selection. As a result, the filter may leave behind a noticeable elliptical boundary between the affected and unaffected portions of the selection. To avoid this effect, select the region you want to edit with the elliptical marquee tool and then feather the selection before filtering it. This softens the effect of the filter and provides a more gradual transition (even more so than Pinch already affords).

One of the more remarkable properties of the Pinch filter is that it lets you turn any image into a conical gradation. Figure 11-15 illustrates how the process works. First, blur the image to eliminate any harsh edges between color transitions. Then apply the Pinch filter at full strength (100 percent). Reapply the filter several more times. Each time you press Ctrl+F, the center portion of the image recedes farther and farther into the distance, as shown in Figure 11-15. After 10 repetitions, the face in the example all but disappeared.

Original Gaussian blur, 5.0 Pinch, 100%

Pinch x 3 Pinch x 5 Pinch x 10, Radial Blur

Figure 11-15: After applying the Gaussian Blur filter, I pinched the image 10 times and applied the Radial Blur filter to create a conical gradation.

Pinch x 3 Pinch x 5 Pinch x 10, Radial Blur

Figure 11-15: After applying the Gaussian Blur filter, I pinched the image 10 times and applied the Radial Blur filter to create a conical gradation.

Next, apply the Radial Blur filter set to Spin 10 pixels or so to mix the color boundaries a bit. The result is a type of gradation that you can't create using Photoshop's gradient tool.

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