Al's Photoshop TutorialAdvanced Concepts

Advanced Concept: Fun With Noise
Part 2: Common Filters

Photoshop's Filter menu contains some useful items. It also contains a lot of not-so-useful items, and a few overused items. If you're not careful, you can easily ruin your image by using the wrong effects, but if you stick to the basics and think about what you're doing, you can make some very subtle and unique looks.

Below, there is a quick rundown of some of the most useful effects. Most of these are various types of blurs, which act as the basic building blocks of many interesting effects.

This is the 128x128 sample of noise I'll be using all the following effects on.
Filter » Blur » Blur
The blur filter averages each pixel with the ones immediately around it. This is a quick and simple blur.
Filter » Blur » Blur More
Just like Blur, but has a little more range.
Filter » Blur » Gaussian Blur
This is a more processor-intensive and accurate blur. This brings up a dialog where you can tell it how wide the blur is. The example here is 2 pixels. When using large values, things may average out to almost gray again, so don't forget that you can use Levels to bring back the detail.
Filter » Blur » Motion Blur
Motion Blur is given an angle and a spread, and blurs along that line. Notice how on Motion Blur (and also on Gaussian Blur, but not as noticeably) the brights and darks bunch up towards the edges. It may be a good idea (depending on how you're applying it) to make noise out past where you need it, and crop it back later.
Filter » Blur » Radial Blur, Spin Mode
Radial Blur gives you two modes, spin and blur. Spin mode is good for backgrounds on scenes that suggest spinning motion or vertigo.
Filter » Blur » Radial Blur, Zoom Mode
Here we see Radial Blur in Zoom mode. This is good for fast forward motions, or to draw attention to a part of a picture.
Filter » Pixelate » Crystallize
Crystallize lets you control the average size of the flat chunks of color it generates. This effect is a good starting point for cracked glass or any effect that deals with evenly-spaced spots.
Filter » Distort » Glass
The Glass Distortion (used here after a bit of Gausian Blur) is great for watery effects, or a frosted widow look.
Filter » Stylize » Emboss
This effect takes light from a certain angle and intensity, and interprets brightness as depth. With blurred noise, you get the bumpy-looking surface shown here.

Next, we'll start putting these things to practical use.

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