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Tips for creating special photo effects in Photoshop

Try the following techniques to create special effects with filters.

Create edge effects

You can use various techniques to treat the edges of an effect applied to only part of an image. To leave a distinct edge, simply apply the filter. For a soft edge, feather the edge, and then apply the filter. For a transparent effect, apply the filter, and then use the Fade command to adjust the selection's blending mode and opacity. (See Blending filter effects (Photoshop).)

Apply filters to layers

You can apply filters to individual layers or to several layers in succession to build up an effect. For a filter to affect a layer, the layer must be visible and must contain pixels--for example, a neutral fill color. (See Filling new layers with a neutral color.)

Apply filters to individual channels

You can apply a filter to an individual channel, apply a different effect to each color channel, or apply the same filter but with different settings.

Create backgrounds

By applying effects to solid-color or grayscale shapes, you can generate a variety of backgrounds and textures. You might then blur these textures. Although some filters have little or no visible effect when applied to solid colors (for example, Glass), others produce interesting effects. You might try Add Noise, Chalk & Charcoal, Clouds, Conté Crayon, Craquelure, Difference Clouds, Glass, Grain, Graphic Pen, Halftone Pattern, Mezzotint, Mosaic Tiles, Note Paper, Patchwork, Pointillize, Reticulation, Rough Pastels, Sponge, Stained Glass, Texture Fill, Texturizer, and Underpainting.

Combine multiple effects with masks or with duplicate images

Using masks to create selection areas gives you more control over transitions from one effect to another. For example, you can filter the selection created with a mask.

You can also use the history brush tool to paint a filter effect onto part of the image. First, apply the filter to an entire image. Next, step back in the History palette to the image state before the filter was applied, and set the history brush source to the filtered state. Then, paint the image. (See Reverting to a previous version of an image.)

Improve image quality and consistency

You can disguise faults, alter or enhance, or make a series of images look related by applying the same effect to each. Use the Actions palette to record the process of modifying one image, and then use this action on the other images.

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