Lesson 23: Using Filters

Hello everyone! I thought today I'd do a new lesson! It's a miracle, I know! I was looking at Photoshop, wondering what I would do this one on, when it hit me that I totally haven't covered Filters at all. Kinda funny, since when I first started using Photoshop 7 in 2004, this was the first feature I really messed with. I guess the reason I haven't covered it is because it's not something I use very often in digital scrapbooking. The filters are really more for photography than they are every day functions in digital scrapbooking. Still, they have been very useful to me. I am BY NO MEANS going to cover them all, but I thought I'd talk about the ones that I've used the most.

I've used filters for many different purposes--few of them on actual scrapbooking pages. But, once you get into Photoshop you can find yourself using it for more than just scrapbooking--especially if you are a teacher like me! When I first started using Photoshop, I was in the middle of some pretty exciting weight-loss. I lost 25 lbs that year, and I was discovering Photoshop at the same time. So I took a lot of obsessive photos of myself, and used Photoshop to enhance them and learn some of the features. So, here are some of the filters I've used for photography. These are all under the Filter pull down menu.

DISCLAIMER: I am not a photographer. I am by no means the best source for fabulous photoshop tutorials on photography and Photoshop. So if my lack of knowledge apalls you, I apologize.

Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur

This is a great tool for when you'd like to blur out an unattractive background. You have control over how blurred it is. The trick, of course, is highlighting exactly what you want to blur and leaving everything else. For that, I would suggest you sillhoette your picture using the Lasso tool. Then copy and paste that into a new layer. Then select your old layer and blur it. Now, the section you copied and pasted is NOT blurred.

The first picure shows the original shot. (isn't my baby gorgeous??) I want to blur that background a little bit.
So, taking my Magnetic Lasso, I do an outline around the baby. You can sort of see it on the second picture. That's a screenshot.

You'll also notice that, in the top toolbar that comes up when the magnetic lasso highlighted, I've typed in "10" in the Feather box. This is so that when I cut it, the edges aren't too rigid and have a little bit a feather on them.

So then, just do CTRL+X to cut, and then immediately do CTRL+V to paste.

If you look at your layer panel, you now have TWO layers, one with the full original picture, and the other with your image cut out.

Now, with the BACKGROUND picture highlighted, go to Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur. Just adjust the toggle to where you want it. The baby stays sharp and clear, and the background blurs. Don't do it too much, though, or your edges are really obvious.

Filter>Brush Strokes>Crosshatch

Ok, yes, I know this is very self agrandizing. I'm actually a little apalled at myself for putting it on a public blog. But MAN I wish I looked like that now...

Anyway, in this photo, I used Crosshatching. First I lightened the picture a lot and probably did some other things, but eventually I did Filter>Brush Strokes>Crosshatch. And I got this effect. You can use the toggle to determine how intense you want the crosshatching to be--it's not very intense in this photo. But I think it turned our very nice.

Filter>Render>Lighting Effects

I actually used this one last month when creating a poster for the Talent Show at my school. I thought it turned out great! I wanted the background to look like a stage, but couldn't find the right picture for it. So, first I got a rather generic picture of curtains. They were red, so I used Match Color to change them to green (like the ones at my school.) They were still so plain and boring!

So then I went to Filter>Render>Lighting Effects. I pulled down the style menu, and just started to experiment. It actually took me a while before I found the look I wanted. I chose "Three Down" from the style menu, then used the toggles on the preview menu to adjust the lights where I wanted them. You can change the direction and width of the light to cover what you want.

I also used an element from Lindsey Jane's kit Christmas Trimmings to get the stars all over the background. Oh, and I used an ation from Atomic Cupcake called Sparkle for the Elk Ridge title--one of my favorites.

Filter>Render>Lens Flare

Here's one I did using a lense flare. I think I also used a blur on the background. This is actually one of the first I did so it's not brilliant, but you get hte idea of what it can do. Just go to Filter>Render>Lens Flare. You can choose exactly where you want it and how large the radius of the light is. Again, not something you use often, but I have used it from time to time and it looks nice.


Oh, I have so much fun with this one! On a light note, I've used this filter for endless fun in my class. When my kids are reading (we read one period per day) if they are good, at the end of the period I will ask who can TOTALLY handle being made fun of. I get several volunteers. Then I take their picture and load it up and pull it into Photoshop. Then I demo on their screens so they can all see what I'm doing. (I teach in a computer lab.) And then I basically totally mess with their faces using the liquify filter.

One time I took a picture of the teacher next door. We were always playing practical jokes on each other. I used liquify to make him look all fat and funny, with the kids looking on, totally laughing. Then I printed 40 copies, told the kids to make paper airplanes out them, and then we chucked them in his room while his kids were reading. It was awesome.

But on a more serious note, this can be a nice tool to get rid of some unwanted pounds. Now, I don't suggest going all crazy with it--I use it VERY rarely. But sometimes it's just kinda nice. Like this photo of me and my then fiance getting my costume ready for Halloween. I had just a bit of a paunch in it, so I adjusted it--just a tad. And I don't regret it one bit!

To use Liquify, pull up the picture you want to change. Go to Fiter>Liquify. I suggest you mess with this a bit and get used to it before you use it for any practical purposes. It will take you into the liquify screen. On the left you will see all the tools you can use. On the right, you can adjust your brush size, pressure, density, etc. I admit there are a lot of features here that I have never experimented with. But for the purposes I use it for, I don't need them. To fix the tummy, for instance, I just chose the size brush I wanted, used the Warp Forward Tool (the first one on the left) and nudged that little belly in. That was it. Usually that is all it will take.

Well, these are just a handful out of TONS of filters. Go play. It's very fun. And you never know when they will come in handy unexpectedly.

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