Discussion

Understanding the Displace filter

The Displace filter distorts a layer in your Photoshop document based on the grayscale values from a map file (another Photoshop document). Photoshop uses the displacement map as a stencil to distort the layer to which the filter has been applied. Pixels that are lighter than 50% gray get pushed in one direction, pixels that are darker than 50% gray get pushed in another, and the remaining pixels (which are 50% gray) remain untouched.

In this solution, we created a 50% gray layer. If we'd turned this layer into a map file, applying the Displace filter would have done nothing! However, creating the second layer gave our displacement map a dark outer ring. Those darker areas were used by the Displace filter to distort the text around the edges of the glass.

Thinking Outside the Box

In this solution, we used a combination of Photoshop's filters, layer styles, and other tools in non-conventional and creative ways to achieve our final effect.

For example, while we used the Drop Shadow layer style to create a drop shadow for the handle, we couldn't use this effect to provide us with the varying levels of "fuzziness' that we needed for the rest of the magnifying glass. Instead, we created that effect by duplicating and masking a ring layer, and applying to it different levels of the Gaussian Blur filter.

Let's also revisit also how we used the Bevel and Emboss effect in this solution. While the name Bevel and Emboss may lead you to think that you can only use this filter to make solid objects look three-dimensional, we were also able to use it to shade the bottom-left portion of the magnifying glass to a pale shade of gray, while leaving a rounded, clear area on the right-hand side, creating the effect of focused light.

By thinking outside the box (or at least, beyond the name of a tool), you'll find that you can achieve countless cool effects using Photoshop's tools.

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