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Artistic Filtering – Page 1

Artistic Filtering

[The Ctrl-J shortcut for duplicating a layer or selection contents to a new layer is disabled in Elements 2. Use Layer > New > Layer via Copy instead.]
If you apply Element’s or Photoshop’s filters (they’re the same) to an image, particularly a portrait, you often end up with a muddy mess. Reducing the filter’s effect by applying it to a duplicate layer and lowering that layer’s opacity can sometimes be even worse. Instead of looking filtered, your image ends up looking like it is poor quality or defective.
     Please note that most of the Elements and Photoshop filters can only be applied to images which are in RGB color mode. To check and/or change your image color mode, choose Image > Mode.
     The method I will describe below is useful for turning an image of a specific person (“Bob”) into a generic illustration (“a man”). It is also useful, as demonstrated in the second example I’ll use, for creating stylized portraits which still retain the identity of the subject.
     By separating the important image details onto another layer you can filter the underlying layer and then blend the unfiltered details. The procedure I use for doing this is very simple. Note that you can use a layer mask instead of the technique I describe, but it is actually harder that way. I’ll show you why at the very end.
     Please note that the images of people used in this tutorial are from a collection of free samples from Corel. They are not intended for your use. The last image (of a flower) is mine, and you are welcome to use that one.
     Start by opening your image in Elements or Photoshop. I am assuming you will have only the background layer to start with. If you have several layers in your image, make a flattened copy to work with. The image I’ll use first is shown below.
     Create a duplicate of your background layer by dragging it onto the New Layer icon at the bottom of the Layers palette, or by choosing Duplicate Layer from the Layers palette menu. Access the menu by clicking on the little arrow in the upper right corner of the palette.
Layers palette menu
     Next, click on the New Layer button at the bottom of the Layers palette, or choose Layer > New > Layer to create a new, empty layer directly above your duplicate background layer.
     Double-click on the new layer in the Layers palette (Photoshop 6 users, press Alt as you double-click) and name this layer Black Outline.
     Click on your image a few times with the zoom tool to zoom in enough that you can see details clearly.
     Press D on your keyboard to set your foreground-background colors to the default black and white. Select the paintbrush tool in the toolbox. In the paintbrush tool’s options bar, make sure Opacity is set to 100 %.
     Pick a soft brush from the options bar’s pop-up palette. Make sure the new, empty Black Outline layer is selected in the Layers palette and then paint on an edge in your image (see the second image below for an example).
     If the brush is too fat or thin, use Undo to remove the line, and then press the left bracket key [ to make your brush smaller. The right bracket key ] will make your brush larger. You want to cover the edges with black but don’t want to cover any more than you need to.

original unfiltered image
original, unfiltered image

black painted outline on image
black outline on separate layer

Paint over all important edges and details in your image. As a rule, you want to outline only, not fill, though I always fill in the eyes and mouth.
     Please note that you can use any color you like to create this outline. The only thing that matters is that the brush opacity be set to 100 %. So, if you are outlining on a black image, use white as your outline color. The color makes no difference. You can use multiple colors if you like.
     Here’s what you layers palette should look like so far.
Layers palette with black outline
     When you have the black outline complete, Ctrl-click on the Black Outline layer’s name in the Layers palette. This will select all of the non-transparent content (the outline).
     With the selection outline active, click on the background copy layer to select it in the Layers palette (it will show as dark blue when selected) and press Ctrl-J, or choose Layer > New > Layer via Copy.
     A copy of the outlined image areas will be created on a new layer directly above the background copy layer. Double-click (Photoshop 6 users, Alt-double-click) on the layer and name it Colored Image Outline.
     Turn off visibility for the Black Outline layer by clicking on the eyeball icon at the left end of its layer.
     Click on the background copy layer again to select it. Then choose Filter > Artistic > Poster Edges. Click OK to apply the filter with the default settings. For simplicity, I have used the default settings for all filters (except one which is noted) applied in this tutorial.
     After filtering is complete (it may take a minute, depending on the size of your image file), click on the Colored Image Outline layer and change its blend mode to Multiply.
Layers Blend Mode
     At this point, your Layers palette should look like this. Remember to keep the Black Outline layer’s visibility turned off (note the grayed out box where the eyeball icon would be).
Poster Edges Layers palette
     Below, first, you can see the image with the Colored Image Outline layer’s visibility turned off. This is what your image would look like if you simply filtered the image without creating the outline as we did here.
    Directly below that, you can see the filtered image with the Colored Image Outline layer’s visibility turned on.
     This was a fairly moderate filter. I’ll show you two more dramatic ones, next.

Poster Edges filter with no outline
Poster Edges filter without outline layer

Poster Edges filter with outline in Multiply mode
Poster Edges with Multiply outline