How to Use Filters For Special Effects in Photoshop Elements
In this tutorial we will take a look at some of the filters and effects you can use to modify and enhance your images, making them truly unique. There are so many filters and effects available that it is impossible to cover them all in this tutorial. What I will attempt to do is take a look at what is available, and some of the settings available, and some examples of what some of the filters and effects do, and let you experiment and learn on your own. Lets start by opening a new blank document. Go to File - New - Blank File. In the dialog box, using the pulldown menu next to "presets" select "scrapbooking" and click OK.
In the Contents Panel, (found above the layers panel), select "Shapes" and drag a shape to your document. I picked an apple
Effects Panel Lets take a look at the effects panel. In the upper left corner you will find the filter button. Click on the filter button and use the pull down menu to select the filter category you would like to use. (Note. There is also a filter menu item across the top which has all these filters plus a few other adjustments you can use). At the bottom of the menu you will find "Show All" which will show all the available selections in the panel.
In order to apply most of the filters, the shape layer must be simplified, which essentially changes it from a shape layer to a regular transparent layer. You can right click on the layer and choose "Simplify Layer", or you can simplify the layer when attempting to apply a filter. Just to give our apple some color, lets fill the shape with a gradient. Control Click (Command Click on the Mac) on the shape layer to load it as a selection. Choose the gradient tool, and pick a gradient in the gradient option panel at the top of the window. Draw a line in your selection to apply the gradient. Photoshop will ask you if you want to simplify the layer, click OK, then draw the gradient. I drew the gradient in a diagonal from upper left to lower right. If you want to constrain the gradient to straight up and down or straight across hold down the shift key while drawing the gradient.
Next, drag the gradient layer to the "Create new layer" button to make a duplicate. Name this layer "Filtered" . With the Filtered layer selected, open the Effects panel, click on the filters button in the top left, and in the pulldown menu click on "Texture" Lets put some texture into the image. Double click on the icon called craquelar. The Filter Gallery window should open. If the Filter Gallery window does not open, choose undo or click control Z (command Z on the Mac), then click on the panel options button on the top right of the panel. When the options box opens, select "Automatically Show Filter Gallery". Then Double click the craquelar icon again. The Filter Gallery should open.
Here is the Filter Gallery. All the filters are in panels and separated into groups. The icons give a representation of what the filter will do. Some of the filters don't affect some images. The preview window will show you what the filter will do. There is also a pulldown menu where you can select a filter. Slider controls change the settings for the filter and change the appearance of the effect. Each filter is loaded into a filters list, creating layers much like the layers panel. You can apply multiple filters or change the order the filters are applied by moving the filter layers up or down in the stack. You can apply a second filter by clicking on the New Effect Layer button at the bottom of the panel, or delete a filter effect by dragging it to the trash can.
Lets add another effect layer to the shape by clicking on the New effect layer button, and added a sponge effect. Move the sliders around until you find an effect you like. Here is the result of the sponge effect combined with the craquelar effect
Lets add one more. Click the New Effect Layer button again and pick Glass. Move the sliders around for the glass effect until you like what you see. Notice the effect layers are added making a cumulative effect on the image
Lets try one more thing with filters and then we will move on. In the layers panel, drag the original, unfiltered shape layer to the create a new layer button at the bottom left of the layers panel. Call this layer "Pattern". With the pattern layer selected, click on the halftone pattern in the effects panel. select "size - 12, contrast - 16", and select "line" from the pulldown menu, then click OK. Your image should look something like the image on the left.
Make sure the Pattern layer is the top layer in the layer panel.
With the Pattern layer selected, change the blend mode to overlay. See how the pattern becomes subtle lines within our apple shape. Blend modes are a different way to change the visual effect of layers.
Experiment with the blend modes until you find the effect you want. Here are some examples of different blend modes used with the Pattern layer, each one giving a different effect.
Here are some more filter examples. I opened a picture of Balanced Rock in Arches National Park, and used some filters that didn't work with our apple image (remember, not all filters and effects work with all images). Open an image of your own and experiment a little.
Layer Styles Enough about filters. Lets move on to Layer Styles. The layer styles button is next to the filters button at the top of the effects panel. Go back to the apple image, with the Pattern layer set to overlay. Select the Filtered layer and click on the "Layer Styles" button and use the pulldown menu to see the variety of options available.
Choose Bevels and double click on the second icon from the left on the top row, the scalloped edge, to apply the style. A small "fx" will show up on your layer showing the layer style has been applied.
It may not look like anything happened, so we will make the style more visible by making some adjustments. Double click the small "fx" on the layer panel. The Layer Styles Settings box will open allowing you to fine tune the layer style, and add others if desired.
Make sure the preview box is checked so that you can view the changes in your document. In the settings box you can see that the checkbox next to Bevel is checked, indicating the style you have applied. Drag the size slider to the right to increase the size of the effect. Here I increase the size to 244px.
In this settings box you can change the lighting angle, or in other words, the direction the light is coming from. You can also add other styles right from this box. Lets add a drop shadow. Click on the drop shadow checkbox. The blue triangle next to the drop shadow checkbox turns down revealing the settings for the drop shadow. Click on the blue triangle next to the Bevel checkbox to close those settings. Back in the drop shadow settings, adjust the sliders until you have the drop shadow effect you want. You can change the color of the shadow by clicking on the color swatch, which will open the color picker window. Try the glow and stroke. Change the settings to see if there is anything you like. Sometimes the styles don't seem to do anything, depending on the image you are adjusting. If you don't like the effect, just uncheck the box.
Photo Effects Lets move on to Photo Effects. The third button from the left is the photo effects button. The pulldown menu reveals the variety of photo effects available. Just double click on an effect to apply it to your image.
Here are some examples of some of the Photo Effects applied to the image. Shown is the effect, and which pulldown menu item it is found under.
The photo effects are cumulative. In the top right example above I used two photo effects, the tint sepia and the vintage photo. Each time you apply a photo effect it creates a new layer in the layers panel. Rename the layers with the effect used so they are easily identified.
Since each effect is on a separate layer, you can modify the layers, change opacity, blend modes, or anything else you can do with a layer. Click on the Quick Panel tab found above the effects tab. The Quick Panel has some different settings you can apply to your layers. Change the Hue and Saturation by adjusting the sliders. I moved the saturation all the way to the right to over saturate the image, and moved the hue slider to a green color. It created an erie looking scene.
You may like the neon green color, but I think it might be a little to bright. To tone it down a little we could move the hue and saturation sliders back a little, but I'm going to show you another adjustment you can use on your images. Click back on the Full Panel, and change the blend mode of the Vintage Photo layer to Color Dodge and change the opacity to 50%. You can see that the possibilities are unlimited for the things you can do to an image. Finally, the FX button, the fourth button over on the Effects Panel basically shows all the options available in the other panels.
We have only scratched the surface of what is available when using the effects panel. There is no way I can cover all the possibilities available. Use the Help feature in Photoshop Elements, ask questions on the Photoshop Forums, search the internet for more information and above all, experiment with your own images. If you don't like an effect, use undo or if you need to go back several steps you can use the undo history panel. Remember to always save your layered file as a PSD so you can make changes if desired, the flatten the file and save it with a new name for your final output.
"That which we persist in doing becomes easier for us to do; not that the nature of the thing itself is changed but that our power to do is increased".