Adobe Photoshop Filters Basics

Adobe Photoshop Filters are the tools that are widely used because they allow image processing in such a way to gain surprising range of effects. Although each filter has something that is the best, most creative use of them often occurs when the filter is “wrong” used.

The term comes from traditional filter photographic cameras, where the filter was embedded on magnifying camera. “Filter” is actually a piece of glass or plastic, that changes the incoming light into the camera to obtain a special effect. When we use a filter expression associated with graphic software, the rule applies to plug-in that produces a special effect. The type of effects that we can get from a plug-in filter, can range from something very simple as it is blurred or illuminated images, the wild, distorted, figurative and artistic effects.

8 principles of the filters use

Get to know your filters

The best way to get to know is to play with them.

Apply a filter to a layer

Before you apply the filter, click to select the layer and apply a filter to a layer. Can be applied to the selected part of the image, but if you do not make a selection, it will be applied to the entire image.

Experimenting with the command Fade

It allows to apply only a certain percent of the filter on the image.

Filter the individual channels

Some filters can be applied to one channel, and very interesting effects can be obtained by applying the filter only on the green channel.

Filter alpha channel

Use this filter as selection mask, then make a selection and apply another filter on the whole image. For this technique particularly effective is filter crystallize.

“Wrong” Use of filters

If you apply a filter to the settings that were inadequate, it may sometimes happen that you get wonderful special effects.

Think of “multiple use”

Another good technique for special effects is the application of the same filter to the same selection repeatedly. This is especially good with filters that operate “in a single step.”

Let the filter affects to you

Apply filters as you feel. Use them to create “own” works of art. Some filters are very specific and if you apply a little, you can achieve a lot.

Do not use “one filter of any kind,” just because is there. Let the filter only serve to the art of usage.

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Adobe Photoshop Filters Basics

There are three basic types of filters:

1. One-step filter

It’s one that has no possibility of control by the user. The typical case is blur filter which softens the image by changing the color of each pixel, so that it becomes something closer to the color of the pixels that surround it. There it is not possible to specify how the picture will be softened, it can be applied repeatedly, but cannot be changed “quantity” of filtering.

2. Parameter filter

It’s the one that offers the possibility of choosing. The user needs to set some parameters and thus specifies what filter will do. Most of Photoshop’s filters belong to this type.

3. Filter in the form of mini-applications

It’s the one that allows filtering records in a file and later use. These filters create their own environment within Photoshop. Filters from other manufacturers (not manufactured by Adobe) are mini-applications.

Adobe Photoshop Filters Categorization

The two basic categories are:

Production filters,and Filters for special effects. Production oriented filters are used for color correction or focus in preparing images for printing, while filters for special effects are used to change the picture, with that it adds an element of “unreality.”

These two categories can be further split into the following:


Those filters are used to prepare images for printing,

Special Effects

Those filters are intended to change the picture for artistic purposes,

Color Change

These are used for changing the value of colors in the image,


Those are used for changing the image geometry, bending, looking back, stretching,


These filters uses a different image or embedded algorithm for distorting the original image. The picture is changed so that it looks as if looking through a transparent surface, such as water or glass,


Those filters replaces the original image with its own effect,


Original image affects the effect of the filter, but filtered images are usually difficult to be identified,


These filters are changing the focus of the image, making it sharpened or softened,


Those filters create a somewhat abstract stylized version of the original,


Those filters are used to create the interesting surface appearance,


Those filters give the impression of a third dimension to the picture.

Supported color modes

The filter can be applied to RGB image, a grayscale image, in CYMK or Lab mode, or only on some of them. Images with indexed colors and bit-mapped cannot in general be filtered.

Types of previews

It is always helpful if the filtering effect can be observed prior to its final application to the image. This is especially important when using parametric filter, because in this way we can more easily select the desired settings. The single step filters don’t have this possibility.
There are several different types of views:


Those are the filters that don’t have this possibility,

Small Filter Preview (thumbnail)

In the dialogue box there is a little square area that shows the fraction of the image and how it will look when applied filter,

Full Image Preview

In addition to the thumbnail preview, the changes can be seen on the original image,

WireFrame Preview

Schematically is shown appearance of deformations that should be applied when filtering images. Practically there is no picture or color.

Dependence of data

This is the “yes / no” category . Filter that depends on the data (“yes”), for the production of effects requires something more than an empty picture. Filter that depends on the data, on the blank image will not produce any change, whether a filter that does not depend on the data, will give a result even if the image is completely empty. Some of the filters that depend on the data only work if the image is not completely white, filter Clouds is the only one that produces the effect on a completely empty layer.

Dependence of color

This is another “yes / no” category. “No” means it does not matter what color are selected from the Toolbox, the background color and the foreground. “Yes” means that the filter used paper foreground color, background color, or both. By changing these color, the effect of the filter is changed.

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