If you still desire to indulge your artistic flair but donít have time to return to art class, Photoshop has some wonderful tools for you lodged under the Filters menu. This month we show you how filters can transform an ordinary photograph into a work of art suitable for framing.
Choose A Photo
To begin, open one or two of your favorite digital photographs. We recommend a portrait or a nature scene with a relatively simple foreground. If you donít have a digital photo on hand, Photoshop provides samples for you to work with. You an access these samples by selecting File, Open, C:, Program Files, Adobe, Photoshop 6.0, Samples. The bear, zebra, and astronaut are all good choices. Double-click the file you wish to open.
Next, to preserve the original file, select Save As from the File menu and rename the photo. Be sure to preserve the original file extension.
The Filter Menu
The Filter menu contains many tools, but today we focus on those that render photos traditionally artistic. Click Filter and youíll see a list of filter types. Without clicking, run your mouse down the list and youíll see the specific filter tools listed. For example, under Artistic, youíll see filters for Colored Pencil, Fresco, and Watercolor, among others. To select one, run your mouse over it and left-click.
Most filters have their own menus, usually with slider bars that let you minimize and maximize the special effects, as well as set lighting and texture. Filter menus also have preview windows so you can view and modulate an effect before applying it to your photo.
Letís start with the Smudge Stick filter. Click Filter, Artistic, Smudge Stick. Initially you may see just a colored blob in the preview window. Place your pointer over the window. With the hand icon that appears, you can move the image around for a better look. For an idea of how the filter looks applied over a broader area, reduce the preview display from 100% to 50%. Click the minus sign (-) to make that change.
The Smudge Stick has just three slider bars to set; other filters have more. One way to plunge in is to maximize a filterís slider bars to see how far you can stretch the tool. Then modulate the effects to suit the image. With the Smudge Stick, the greater the stroke length, the less pronounced the image detail. The greater the highlight area, the brighter and more colorful the image. The higher the intensity, the brighter the image. When youíre satisfied, click OK.
If you want to keep the changes, select File, Save As. If you donít like the result, choose Undo Smudge Stick from the Edit menu. Choose another filter and start again.
If youíd like to tone down a filterís effect, employ the Fade feature. It works with any filter. To try it, choose Filter, Artistic, Fresco. Set the sliders and click OK. From the Edit menu, choose Fade Fresco. The opacity slider lets you subtly (or dramatically) reduce the effect.
A technique for achieving an especially realistic effect is to underlay a painting or drawing filter with a texture. For example, choose Filter, Artistic, Paint Daubs, make your selections, and click OK. (Choosing Filter, Sketch, Chalk & Charcoal also works well.) Then choose Filter, Texture, Texturizer and set the texture to Canvas.
If, in the course of your experiments, you find yourself unable to undo all the effects youíve tried, simply close the image without saving it. Your original image will be preserved.
Anyone with an artistic flair will enjoy playing with Photoshopís filters. With a good inkjet printer, you may even create prints worthy of framing.