Add a Great Effect to your Photos with a Layer Filter

Have you tried using Layer Filters on your photos?

There is a whole world of play available to you in the Filters Menu in Photoshop Elements (and of course in other good photo editing software packages too, but the names and menu directions will be different). Try giving your scrapbook layouts a little extra kick by applying one or more filters to a photo to create a different look.

gelati-days.jpgMy Gelati Days Layout is an example. (For those of you with good memories I used this layout in my Blend Your Own Backgrounds tutorial, so it demonstrates two techniques for the price of one. Good value eh?)

As you can see, the photo in this layout is of a cup of yummy gelato sitting on a sidewalk cafe table. I have made this a tradition as the very first thing I do when I arrive to stay with Seona and Phil in Sydney because they live in the middle of a fabulous cafe precinct.

However, for this scrapbook layout I didn’t want the clutter of the surrounding tables to detract from the subject, or for that matter from the gorgeous Renew Collection by Shalea Tippett.

There were several ways I considered going with this:
* turning the background to black and white, or
* desaturating the colour out of the background, or
* cutting the gelato cup out and using it without a background.

But I decided to use an Embossing Filter to recede the background but just leave enough of a hint of it to keep some context around the subject. Also I think it creates a slightly metallic impression to the cafe furniture by defining the edges, which goes with the gelato theme.

So here’s how to apply effects to your photo backgrounds:

  1. Drag your photo onto your layout and size and position it the way you want. It doesn’t really matter if you need to move it later but I find it easier to decide whether I like the look if I can get it roughly into position before I start playing around with it.
  2. As always, create a duplicate layer of your photo by highlighting the layer to be duplicated and dragging it up to the New Layer icon at the top left of the Layers Pallet (or highlight the layer in your Layers Pallet and choose Layer>Duplicate Layer from the top menu bar).
  3. Note Steps 4 to 9 only apply if you want to apply your effect to a background and leave the subject of the photo ‘au natural’ so to speak. Skip them if you’re applying your effect to the whole photo.
  4. Highlight your duplicate layer in the Layers Pallet. Zoom in so your subject fills your screen.
  5. Choose the Selection Brush from your Toolbar and set it to Mask.
  6. Paint over the area that you want to remove from the layer (in my case it was the gelati). When you’ve finished select the Move tool and you’ll get marching ants around the outside of your selection.
  7. If you want to remove the area that you have masked, click on Select>Inverse from the top menu bar. Then press Delete. You will have now cut a hole in this layer the shape of the ares of your photo that you don’t want to apply the filter to. It doesn’t look any different on your layout because you can see through the gap to your original layer.
  8. From the Menu choose Select>Deselect. This will remove the ‘marching ants’ around your subject.
  9. You can play around with many different filters on this layer and your subject will show through the ‘hole’ you have just cut in its original form. Note Filters are cumulative. So if you try out different ones on the same layer, make sure you undo the previous action first as they will just keep applying the next one on top of your previous filter.
  10. Choose Filters from the drop down list at the top left of the Special Effects Pallet and select from the filter categories in the drop down menu on the right of the pallet. Select your category (the default is All) and away you go. I would recommend making a duplicate layer each time you try a new filter so that you can easily discard them if you don’t like them and not have to retrace your steps with the CtrlZ each time. Also I often like to make several layers with different filter effects and then toggle between them using the Eye icon in the Layers Pallet to decide which one I like best.
  • For this photo, from Special Effects Pallet I selected Filters in the drop down menu and chose All from the categories menu. I double clicked on Emboss and then I boosted the height of the embossing to 16 pixels and the amount to 200% in the dialog box that appeared. The entire layer went grey with an embossed metal effect.
  • I then reduced the opacity of this layer in the Layers Pallet to a level where I could see my photo background clearly enough but still kept that slightly embossed finished.
  • Because I didn’t want the grey tinge, I selected Enhance>Adjust Color>Color Variations from the Menu bar and played around with the colour options until I achieved a green that I liked.
  • Then I applied a drop shadow to the photo background layer and I was done.
  • To make sure everything stays in place and you don’t accidentally drag one of the layers out of sync with the rest, select all your photo layers in the Layers Pallet (click on each layer whilst holding down the Shift key to highlight them all, then click on the Chain Link icon at the top of the Layers Pallet. I usually leave it at that because I like to be able to go back and fiddle later sometimes, but if you want to reduce the file size, you can merge all your photo layers together by choosing Layer>Merge Linked from the Menu Bar. Just remember that after you have saved and closed your file you won’t be able to return to the component layers once you do this.

There are many Filters you can choose from in the Special Effects Pallet. Artistic, Blur, Brush Strokes, to name just three. And each category will offer you a range of filter options to try.

So as you can see, using Filters can be a lot of fun and give you some very cool scrapbook layouts.

I know that many of you have played with Filters? What do you think of them? Why not share some of your favourite Filters in the comments section below?

If you haven’t tried using Filters on your scrapbook layouts I recommend you give them a go. They are a whole lot of fun and you can create some very unique looks.

Other Related Posts:

Scrapbook Techniques & Tips – Blend your Own Backgrounds
Black and White Scrapbook Layouts
The Secrets of Styles

What’s the Best Software for Digital Scrapbooking?

Learn digital scrapbooking now!

And take your scrapbooking to the next level.

Learn how at Step by Step Digital Scrapbook


7 Responses to Add a Great Effect to your Photos with a Layer Filter

  1. Susan July 5, 2008 at 12:08 pm #

    Hi! Yes, I love your site and your tutorials. You always have some great ones. Thanks for visiting my blog and leaving the nice comment on my mini-review and for the stumble upon click for my site. I am happy to provide a good review of your tutorial and point people in your direction. You do a fantastic job!

    Thanks so much,

    Susans last blog post..Attention Designers…Use your skills to win cash at & get your design printed on t-shirts

  2. karooch July 5, 2008 at 1:10 pm #

    Thank you Susan. Like I said on your blog, I see so many of my articles being scammed by splogs all over the Internet and it’s very refreshing to find someone who writes their own views on my stuff when they link back to me.

    I love to see links to my posts on other blogs, but only when they’re not horrible spammy ones.

  3. Cindy August 8, 2008 at 6:03 am #

    Thanks for the tip on use of layer filters in Photoshop. I have been using Photoshop for a while but this is the first time someone explained, to me, how to use those filters.

    Cindys last blog post..Content internet filter software – censorware

  4. karooch August 8, 2008 at 8:17 am #

    I find filters can be a dark and arcane art Cindy. They’re great for creating a crazy or funky look for your photo, but if you want your photo to still look ‘normal’ they should be used with caution.

  5. Hummie August 15, 2008 at 11:51 am #

    Just stopping by to leave a fellow blogger warm fuzzies…don’t stop what you are doing!

  6. karooch August 15, 2008 at 1:52 pm #

    Thanks Hummie. It’s always good to see you here.


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