How to Use Filters

How to Use Filters

You might have a few plug-ins or filters installed into your Adobe Creative Suite programs. A filter can enhance an existing photo in a very exciting way. After you have installed a plug-in into Photoshop or Illustrator that includes a bunch of additional filters, you will want to check out what it can do to your photos. An example of this follows.

Install some filters for Photoshop (or Illustrator). After you have completed the installation and restarted your computer if necessary, open Photoshop and locate the Filter menu option (the new filters are available in this menu). To use a filter, follow these steps:

  1. Choose an interesting photo that you want to apply an affect to and open the file in Photoshop.

    Choose a photo that has many colors or a lot of contrast to work with.

  2. Choose a filter from the Filter menu.

    Select a filter that you have installed from the Filter menu as shown in Figure. If you haven’t installed any plug-ins or filters, then you can choose one that is already included in Photoshop, such as Filter®Blur®Motion Blur.

    Click To expand
    Figure: Adding a motion blur to an image adds a sense of movement.

  3. Modify the filter’s settings if necessary, and click the OK button to apply the effect.

    Sometimes, you have a thumbnail preview to assess how the filter changes the image. For some filters and plug-ins, you even use a custom interface to manipulate the document. You can then change the settings accordingly until you’re happy with the modifications that will be applied.

  4. Look at the image after you have chosen and applied the filter.

    Your image is updated immediately, as shown in Figure. If you’re unhappy with the results, you can either undo your changes by choosing Edit®Undo, or you can apply the filter again.

Filters add a lot of interest and variety to a document. However, it is very easy to go overboard when it comes to using filters and plug-ins! You can use filters in many different ways in the Adobe Creative Suite—and some of these ways you use filters (and the filters themselves) might be considered better than others. Going into filter overload is easy, particularly when you first start using filters. This is okay when you’re experimenting with filters; just make sure that you don’t use too many filters on one part of an image when you’re creating a final project. For example, if you bevel and emboss a particular letter in a few different ways, that character might become illegible. Similarly, adding a huge drop shadow might distract the eye from other parts of the text.

The trick is knowing what you intend to accomplish with your document before you actually go about creating it. If you set out to create your project with a particular design in mind, you can sometimes achieve better results. Try drawing out your ideas on paper first, writing down some notes about what you want to achieve, and thinking about the plug-ins you want to use to achieve it. Use one filter at a time, and make sure you like the results before moving on to the next. The alternative might be to continue adding filter upon filter to achieve a particular result when you aren’t quite sure what you’re after or how to get there. You might end up with a picture with too many filters applied and an unpleasant result. With a clear idea of what you want out of a picture, and what filters might be needed to achieve that, you might use filters in a much more successful way because you achieve the result you want to see.

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