Radial Filter in Camera Raw

To fully control where a viewer's attention is drawn to on a photo, highlight the subject of the image. Some filters that create a vignetting effect help you achieve that purpose. However, such filters require the main subject to be in the center of the photo.

Radial filters in Adobe Camera Raw 8.0 direct attention to specific portions of the image. For example, you can use the Radial Filter tool to draw an elliptical shape around the subject, and increase the exposure and clarity of the area within the shape to bring more attention to the subject. The subject can be off-center, or anywhere in the photograph.

This is the main workflow to modify a photo with Radial filters:

  1. Open a photo in Adobe Camera Raw.
  2. Identify one or more areas where you'd like to attract the viewer's attention.
  3. Set up:
    • (Optional) A Radial filter to weaken focus on the background
    • A Radial filter to highlight the subject
    • Additional Radial filters, if you have more than one subject to highlight
The original photo (left), and the subject clearly highlighted using a Radial Filter (right)

Apply a Radial Filter to enhance a photo

  1. Do one of the following:

    • Open a camera raw file.
    • With an image open in Photoshop, choose Filter > Camera Raw Filter.
  2. Select the Radial Filter tool from the toolbar.


    Press J to toggle the Radial Filter tool.

  3. Use the New and Edit radio button options to choose whether you want to create a filter or edit an existing filter.

  4. Do one of the following:

    • To create a Radial filter, click and drag across the region, and draw a circular or elliptical shape. This shape determines the area affected or excluded from the alterations you are about to perform.
    • To edit a Radial filter, click any of the gray handles on the photo. When selected, the handle turns red.
  5. To determine what area of the photo is modified, choose an Effect option (located below the sliders).

    • Outside All modifications are applied outside the selected area.
    • Inside All modifications are applied to the selected area.
  6. Adjust the size (width and height) and orientation of the Radial filter added. Select a filter and:

    • Click and drag the center of the filter to move and reposition it.
    • Hover the pointer over any of the four filter handles, and when the pointer icon changes, click and drag to change the size of the filter.
    • Hover the pointer close to the edge of the filter, and when the pointer icon changes, click and drag the edge of the filter to change the orientation.
    The Radial Filter is represented by an elliptical marquee

  7. Use the sliders to modify the selected Radial filter area. The Feather slider adjusts the falloff of the applied effect.

    The Radial Filter tool options allow you to apply effects to an elliptical mask.

  8. Repeat steps 3 through 6 to continue adding or editing Radial filters.

  9. Clear the Overlay checkbox, to show how the finished photo appears. If you want to delete all the Radial filters and start from scratch, click Clear All (this action cannot be undone).

  10. Use the Mask option to enable mask visualization. Alternatively, press Y to toggle the Mask setting.

Modify a Radial Filter instance using brush controls

You can modify Radial Filter masks using brush controls. Once you've added a mask, to access brush controls, select the Brush option next to New/Edit. Alternatively, press Shift+K.

As appropriate, use the + and – brushes.


For a video description of the brush controls, see Filter Brush in Adobe Camera Raw 8.5.

Brush controls for Radial Filter masks

Keyboard shortcuts and modifiers for the Radial Filter tool

New adjustments

  • Press and hold Shift while dragging to create an adjustment that is constrained to a circle.
  • While dragging, press and hold the spacebar to move the ellipse; release the spacebar to resume defining the shape of the new adjustment.

Editing adjustments

  • While dragging inside an adjustment to move it, press and hold Shift to constrain the movement in the horizontal or vertical direction.
  • While dragging one of the four handles to resize an adjustment, press and hold Shift to preserve the aspect ratio of the adjustment shape.
  • While dragging the boundary of an adjustment to rotate it, press and hold Shift to snap the rotation to 15-degree increments.
  • While an adjustment is selected, press X to flip the effect direction (for example, from outside to inside).

Deleting adjustments

  • While an adjustment is selected, press Delete to delete the adjustment.
  • Press Option/Alt + click an existing adjustment to delete it.

Adjustments with maximum coverage

  • Press Command/Control and double-click an empty area to create an adjustment that is centered and covers the cropped image area.
  • Press Command/Control and double-click within an existing adjustment to expand that adjustment to cover the cropped image area.
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