You can use filters to clean up or retouch photos. You can also use filters to apply special art effects or create unique transformations using distortion effects. In addition to the filters provided by Adobe, some filters provided by third-party developers are available as plug-ins. Once installed, these plug-in filters appear at the bottom of the Filter lists.
You can apply filters in any of three ways:
Contains all of the available filters and lets you apply filters individually.
Displays thumbnail examples of what each filter does, like the panel. The Filter Gallery lets you apply filters cumulatively and apply individual filters more than once. You can also rearrange filters and change the settings of each filter you’ve applied to achieve the effect you want. Because it is so flexible, the Filter Gallery is often the best choice for applying filters. However, not all filters listed in the Filter menu are available in the Filter Gallery.
Displays thumbnail examples of what each filter listed in the Filter menu does. The Filters panel allows you to apply filters individually to a photo in the Expert view.
Tips for applying filters
The following information can help you understand the process of applying filters to your images.
Preview the filter’s result. Applying filters to a large image can be time-consuming. It’s quicker to preview what the filter does in the Filter Gallery. Most filters also let you preview their result in the Filter Options dialog box and the document window. You can then choose to apply the filter or cancel the operation without losing time.
Filters apply only to the active part of an image. Filters affect only the active, visible layer or a selected area of the layer.
Filters don’t work on all images. You can’t use some filters on images in grayscale mode, or any filters on images in bitmap or indexed-color mode. Many filters don’t work on 16‑bit images.
You can reapply the previous filter. The last filter you applied appears at the top of the Filter menu. You can reapply it with the same settings you last used to further enhance the image.
Tips for creating visual effects with filters
Use the following techniques to achieve special visual results with filters:
Feature the filter edges. If you’re applying a filter to a selected area, you can soften the edges of the filter effect by feathering the selection before you apply the filter.
Apply filters in succession to build up effects. You can apply filters to individual layers or to several layers in succession to build up an effect. Choosing different blending modes in the Layers panel blends the effect. For a filter to affect a layer, the layer must be visible and must contain pixels.
Create textures and backgrounds. By applying filters to solid-color or grayscale images, you can generate a variety of backgrounds and textures. You can then blur these textures. Although some filters (for example, the Glass filter) have little or no visible effect when applied to solid colors, others produce interesting effects. For such colors, you can use Add Noise, Chalk & Charcoal, Clouds, Conté Crayon, Difference Clouds, Glass, Graphic Pen, Halftone Pattern, Mezzotint, Note Paper, Pointillize, Reticulation, Rough Pastels, Sponge, or Underpainting. You can also use any of the filters in the Texture submenu.
Improve image quality and consistency. You can disguise faults, alter or enhance images, or make a series of images look similar by applying the same filter to each.
To apply a filter to an entire layer, deselect any selected areas, and then select the layer in the Layers panel.
To apply a filter to a portion of a layer, use any selection tool to select an area.
To use the Filter gallery, choose Filter > Filter Gallery, select a category, and click the filter you want to apply.
To use the Filters panel, choose Window > Filters, select a category, and double-click the filter you want to apply.
To use the Filter menu, choose Filter, then choose a submenu followed by the filter you want to apply. If a filter name is followed by ellipses (…), a Filter Options dialog box appears.
Use the + button or - button under the preview window to zoom in or zoom out.
Click the zoom bar (where the zoom percentage appears) to choose a zoom percentage.
Click-drag within the preview window to center a specific area of the image in the window.
Click the Show/Hide button at the top of the dialog box to hide the filter thumbnails. Hiding the thumbnails expands the preview area.
Click the eye icon next to a filter to hide the effect in the preview image.
A blinking line beneath the preview size indicates that the preview is being rendered.
Click the New Effect Layer button at the bottom of the dialog box and choose an additional filter to apply. You can add multiple effect layers to apply multiple filters.
Rearrange applied filters by dragging a filter name to another position in the list of applied filters at the bottom of the dialog box. Rearranging the order of filters can dramatically change the way your image looks.
Remove applied filters by selecting the filter and clicking the Delete Effect Layer button .
If you are using the Filters panel, do the following and click OK:
You can apply the following categories of filters:
Correct Camera Distortion
Fixes common lens flaws such as barrel and pincushion distortion, and vignetting. The filter also rotates an image and fixes image perspective caused by vertical or horizontal camera tilt.
Change the brightness values, color, grayscale range, and tonal levels of pixels in an image. Convert color pixels into black and white.
Simulate a painterly appearance on traditional media and create a unique look.
Soften a selection or an image. Useful for retouching.
Brush Stroke filters
Give a painterly or fine-arts look using different brush and ink stroke effects.
Geometrically distort an image, creating three-dimensional and other reshaping effects.
Blend a selection into the surrounding pixels and remove problem areas, such as dust and scratches.
Sharply define an image or selection by clumping pixels of similar color values.
Create cloud patterns, lens flare, fibers, and lightning effects in an image.
Add texture for depth or to give a hand-drawn look.
Produce a painted or impressionistic effect by displacing pixels and heightening contrast.
Give the appearance of depth or substance, or add an organic look.
Let you create your own filter effects, modify masks, offset a selection within an image, and make quick color adjustments.
Lets you read a Digimarc watermark.
The Filter Gallery (Filter > Filter Gallery) lets you apply filters cumulatively, and apply individual filters more than once. You can also rearrange filters and change the settings of each filter you’ve applied to achieve the effect you want. Because you can apply more than one filter to an image when you use the Filter Gallery dialog box, you have a lot of control over the way your image is affected by each filter. The Filter Gallery is often the best choice for applying filters because it’s flexible and easy to use.
A. Original photo B. Photos each with a single filter applied C. Three filters applied cumulatively
A. Filter category B. Thumbnail of selected filter C. Show/Hide filter thumbnails D. Filter menu E. Options for selected filter F. List of filter effects to apply or arrange G. Hidden filter H. Filters applied cumulatively but not selected I. Filter selected but not applied
However, not all filters are available from the Filter Gallery. Some are available only as individual commands from the Filter menu. Also, you cannot apply effects and Styles from the Filter Gallery, as you can from the Effects panel.
The Conté Crayon, Glass, Rough Pastels, Texturizer, and Underpainting filters have texturizing options. These options make images appear as if they were painted onto textures, such as canvas or brick, or viewed through glass blocks.
Specifies the type of texture to apply. You can also click Load Texture to specify a Photoshop file.
Increases or decreases the effect on the image surface.
Relief (if available)
Adjusts the depth of the texture’s surface.
Light (if available)
Sets the direction of the light source on the image.
Reverses the surface’s light and dark colors.
Some filters and effects are memory intensive, especially when applied to high-resolution images. You can use these techniques to improve performance: