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For more information, please see full course syllabus of Adobe Photoshop CS6
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Basic Filters & Blend Modes

  • The Filter Gallery and most filters are self-explanatory. Mostly they are for artistic effects, so experiment to see how far they go and what happens as you change options.
  • Regarding Blend Modes - there are basically three groups of blends that you will most often use:
  • The group that starts with Darken - these filters tend to Darken images - each to varying degrees
  • The group that starts with Lighten - these filters tend to make your images lighter in varying degrees
  • The group that starts with Overlay - these filters increase contrast in different degrees
  • The remaining filters sometimes work, sometimes do not.
  • Experiment with the blends and you will begin to see which ones work and which do not. Different situations will give different results, so be prepared to play.
  • Blending Layers and Filter Effects can result in really nice effects. Sit back and play with them.

Basic Filters & Blend Modes

Lecture Slides are screen-captured images of important points in the lecture. Students can download and print out these lecture slide images to do practice problems as well as take notes while watching the lecture.

  • Intro 0:00
  • Lesson Overview 0:06
  • Basic Filters 0:36
    • Basic Filters Overview
    • Filter Gallery
    • Filter Gallery: Plastic Wrap
    • Filter Gallery: Texturizer
  • Blend Modes 5:40
    • Blend Modes Overview
    • Dissolve
    • Darken & Darken Color
    • Lighten
    • Hue, Saturation, Color and Luminosity
  • Demonstration 1: Lighting Effects Filter 8:41
    • Preparing The Image
    • Adding Lens Flare
    • Filter: Render Lighting Effects
    • Adding Another Lighting Effects Filter
    • Adding Lighting Effects Filter To The Background
  • Demonstration 2: More On Filters & Blend Modes 14:40
    • Blend Modes Demonstration
    • Oil Paint Filters Demonstration
  • Lesson Summary 18:06

Transcription: Basic Filters & Blend Modes

Hi everyone, Mike Brown back again, welcome back to's Adobe Photoshop CS6 course.0000

In this lesson, we're going to be looking at filters and blend modes, kind of they work hand in hand--you apply a filter in a separate layer and you blend it to see what another effect is--you're creating and experimenting here in most cases.0007

Now there are filters that we use for specific purposes, and there are artistic filter.0022

In this lesson, primarily we're looking at the artistic filters and blends and see what we can come up with.0027

I don't even know what it's going to look like I get started, we'll find out as we go along, so we're going to take a fun tour of what's the Filter menu, look at many of the available filters, and let's start right off the bat, under the Filter menu, in this section under Filters, and as we've gone through the course, we've looked at the lens correction filter both in Camera Raw and here.0033

Let me bring up...I could bring up this image, Filter, lens correction--you remember how this one works, very simple, you can work on geometric distortion and chromatic aberration and vignettes with you lens and as your camera lens profiles and camera make and so on.0056

We've dealt with that, the same module is in here as in Camera Raw.0074

Liquify filter--you're already familiar with that, Trim, Shape, Open Eyes, Bulge, Pinch, Vanishing Point filter, very cool.0080

Vanishing Point filter allows you to retouch or composite in perspective--we've looked at all three of those, we've also looked at the Blur filters, we've looked separately at the Sharpening filters including the High Pass filter from my favorite sharpening method, and all of these other filters are pretty much grouped together with the exception of a couple of them under the Filter Gallery.0091

So let's pull up this image and take a quick tour of the Filter Gallery--first of all, when you're working with filters, they are going to set and affect the pixels of the layer you're working on in your image, so the best thing to do--we always duplicate our background layer.0118

Since I'm going to apply filters to this layer, I'm going to do it again, and I will title this layer Filter Layer, because once we hit them, they're into the pixels, there is a way in Photoshop to avoid that but we're not going to deal with it in this particular course, it's more for the advanced course.0138

But right now you'll be applying it to this layer, and we can blend it with the original layer, adjust opacity to come up with muted or different effects, so let's go back, and we're going to take a look now at the Filter Gallery...up it comes, here's your filter, and I'm going to get rid of that one...0159

It always opens up to the last used filter, I'll close these up and show you what we've got here--there's your document space, here are categories of which the filters have been grouped under, open up the triangle--there's the particular filters in the artistic with little thumbnails to show you generally what it looks like, you just click...0184

There's plastic wrap, there are your controls for the plastic wrap, highlight strength--in this case zero to whatever you want (let's zoom it up a little bit so you can see it) you get more detail, less detail to give you the look that you want, smoothness, more jaggedness.0204

You have these controls, now you have a layer you can turn it off and turn it on--the reason for that is, we can build up multiple filters right here--if I want a second filter, I simply click right effect layer--now it's showing plastic wrap, but that's only the last used one, let's turn off that...0223

Close this up, and take a look at artistic brush strokes, or the sketches are black and white, distorts give you glass and things of that sort--they all just play with them--stylize, texturizer gives you a texturizer with multiple textures which does sometimes apply with specific filters built in.0244

If you want it, you can add it as a separate filter, we'll just do texturizer all by itself here.0267

You have the option of--let's go with canvas, let's put this particular thing on a canvas, how's the relief?0274

We'll get more scaling down, slightly up, playing from the top left...0282

And let's try invert, didn't do much there, there it is that, now we apply the plastic wrap to it, and then you can also change the order.0292

Move it up to the top, do the plastic wrap above it, and the highlight strength on the texturizer was just a little too much, drop the relief down just a little bit, turn it off, turn it on.0301

So now you can see what you can do by combining a couple of features, not necessarily the best or the worst, but that gives you an idea of how to do it.0316

And there you have pretty much your Filter Gallery, so we're going to go ahead, let's just...the plastic wrap, texturizer, OK we'll take it.0326

Now it's set in on this layer, now...we can work with blend modes to see if they'll help us along, and what we're doing--you can also drop the opacity down anywhere in between to get a slight effect.0340

Now that's better than 100%...and maybe just knock the edge down a little bit, we've got that...let's see, we'll take a look at the blend modes again.0354

In general they work like this; dissolve, what dissolve does (go at 100% and zoom this thing up so you can see it) dissolve does nothing at 100%.0365

As you begin to drop your opacity, it randomly drops out the pixels, and you begin to see the little black dots in there--you're bringing back the underlying layer a pixel at a time kind of randomly, so...0378

You notice what it's doing--it's dissolving just like a dissolve transition in a video when it just kind of goes to the other one, that's what it's doing here on a still.0397

Notice what's happening?0409

And you can set it anywhere in between, that's what dissolve is all about.0411

Now, this group of darken to darken color all darkens, anything less than 50% brightness, the darken end gets darker, anything greater than 50%--the lighter stays the same, let's go with darken.0415

Notice, let's go back to normal...darken...everything that was 50% or under between the two got darker.0433

In this case, lighten will make it lighter than it was on the light end--there's the normal.0446

Didn't work really well with this texturizer--let's go with the other layer--well, that's the original, but you get the idea, so this darkens, this lightens, this increases contrast, all of those under the overlay down.0453

These are just pretty strange, I'm not sure precisely what they do, but they don't often give you something that you really want.0468

That's kind of interesting in its own right, kind of a...and if we drop the opacity level down on that...kind of weird, but kind of interesting, and down here we have hue saturation, color and luminosity which sometimes have effects.0479

In this case luminosity did a really nice job, watch, there's normal, and it popped the color really nicely, so there you experiment with your blend modes as well.0500

OK, that gives you an idea of the blend modes, also an idea of the Filter Gallery--I want to show you a couple more, let's go ahead with this one right here.0512

Now, here's the original image, this is a model friend of mine, just was shot with harsh light, the background's too bright, so what I I brought it down a little bit, made a selection, brought it down, then I turned it to black and white under the Adjustment menu, black and white.0524

And what I did also was add and made that be the best, I added a tint...make it a little more warm tone, OK...0547

So now we've got that, that's added a little dimension, but the light on her is still flat, so we can change that.0560

What I did, is I copied her onto a separate layer, and we're going to work on that layer, under the Filter menu, under render...first I want to show you lens flare.0565

It emulates facing the sun, you can have just a little bit of lens flare and you can put it wherever you want it by moving it around, and there now you have a lens flare...just add a little drama.0578

OK, Filter, render--that's not what we're effects, this is very cool...0593

We have pre-sets of different kinds that will come in, you can pick your lights, spotlight, point light or infinite light, you can do it that way to add a layer.0601

To simply add more lights, we'll show you how that works, adjust the color of the light, intensity, hot spot and colorizing it, the gloss, metallic and ambiance, so on and so forth, but we'll just start here and here is your basic light.0616

We have a's a spotlight, you see it up there at the top, that's where it's coming from, once we get it off the image, you can see that there's the light, coming in from there...see it?0632

It's shining down here, like the Blur control, the intensity, you can increase it or decrease it by turning.0646

You can move the light, you can rotate the light and it's only working on her because it's only this layer, you can adjust the sizing; length and width, however you choose to do that.0655

You can also adjust what's called the hot spot, so it's only basically throwing it on an area--I want to put this on her face, so we'll take it off just a little bit, and we'll drop the hot spot down a little bit, and play with the ambiance, so we're going to bring the ambiance down just a hair and the intensity of the light up just slightly, and look what we've done already.0667

By doing that, we have added a light here and three-dimensionalized the image.0693

I'm going to add another light, all we have to do is click on the light, there's the second light, I'm going to rotate it and we'll bring it up from the bottom, maybe outside slightly.0698

Off the bottom here, increase the sizing just a little bit...move the light back just up here, change the hot spot...notice, I'll bring it so it comes in, and jack up the intensity, so we will begin to get light on the dress...0709

I'm going to open that up...there we go, just a little too hot, bring it down, and change the ambiance slightly...there we go.0730

Now you notice we've got two lights in place, we're going to go ahead with that and we're happy, we'll click's rendering, and now you can see the difference--we went from there, flat, to there, a little more dramatic.0745

Now the edge here is a little harsh, so I'm going to fix that; Layer, layer mask, reveal all, take a brush in black, soft, yes...and I'm just going to go at 20% and mask that out just so I can bring back the light just a little bit, see how I softened that?0764

Just a little--there we go, nice soft edge.0784

Now we have light up here, in fact we went from there, to there, pretty dramatic.0787

Now the only other thing I'd like to do is light the background with the light across, just three-dimensionality additional, let's load up the selection of the background, go to this one and duplicate it, and that gives us background only--we'll go back to Filter, render, lighting effects, and we have two--we're going to get rid of that one, and we're going to move it over here...0793

Off camera, bring it down, bring it a little wider, get back across the--there, drop down the intensity a little bit, and let's up the ambiance...drop the intensity...up the ambiance a little bit more...0822

Let's kind of move it so it's a little more over the shoulder like that, that's kind of cool, let's up the ambiance to like 94...there we go, and we'll click OK.0848

And there you go, we have gone from...let's put it against black.0863

Now you can see it, we have gone from there, to there using the lighting effects filter, pretty cool huh?0870

Alright, one more I want to show you, and I'll use my example right here.0880

Here we have the Aspen Mill, this is actually the Crystal Mill, there's the original photo.0886

What I did is I duped the background, I took...let's turn all the other ones off here...I took a texture that I created, and I took a curves layer to darken it, and then I merged the two of them into this layer called Curves One and I'll turn these back off because that's the merge of the two, and I put them under a...0894

This was the normal...and I put it under a saturation blend.0918

We'll try the other ones here--color, didn't do work, luminosity certainly didn't work, but saturation added a kind of a wild effect by blending the background in--it looks odd, we're not done yet...0927

Then I went with a copied layer...and what I did with that layer, is I added what's called the oil paint filter, and dropped it to 90% so let me show you the oil paint filter.0942

Here's an original image...turn off the layers, under the Filter, this is simple, new to CS6, oil paint, and there it comes, it's done.0959

You have stylization, we'll start at the bottom, it's more of a texture if you notice here, and as we bring it up, you begin to get more of the brush stroke--kind of that Van Gogh effect of oil.0975

Cleanliness changes the appearance of the strokes...scale smooths them out somewhat...let's go up a little more with the stylize.0989

Bristle detail can drop them back and smooth them out, you can have the angular direction of the light change, let's go more bristle detail and a little more stylized, and how about drop that scale back, OK and shine.1001

The more they shine, the more they pop, and there you go--you play with it, click OK...and apply it, and there you have...1020

We went from a photograph to an oil paint very, very easily.1031

Now, in the case of this particular picture, you notice what I've done, is I have combined and we've done everything we've talked about here.1038

We took a texture layer, and what we did is we applied a blend mode to the texture, blended it with the regular image, then I took a copy of that and the blend is at 100%, took a copy of it, made that into the oil paint, backed it out just a hair because if I go at 100%, there it is and I come back out, it begins to bring in that texturing into the oil painting.1051

And there we have a use of everything we've talked about in this particular lesson, back to the beginning again.1081

Filters, and combining with a blend option to create some really kind of interesting, artistic effects, all the Filter Gallery and blend modes in Photoshop CS6.1089