Helpful Artistic Filters
Beyond Adobe Camera Raw as a filter, we can use filters for helpful practical things within our workflow too, especially things like blurs. So I'm gonna go ahead and minimize this. We'll go back into bridge and open up our blur images. And there's several blur filters that I use quite a bit, so I'm gonna show you all three of them. The first one we'll just go over real quick 'cause we've talked about it many times before, and that's the Gaussian blur to get that glowing, radiating effect. We're gonna talk about it again and probably again and again and again. It's one of my signatures, I love doing this. Again, it's using a filter in a way that's just a nice handsome approach to my image. If I press command or control J on this background, it's going to give me a duplicate copy. Again, if I had work going on, I would make a stamp. So I'm gonna go ahead and turn this to soft light in my blend modes. And then I'm gonna go to filter, go to blur and go to Gaussian blur. And what that does ...
is very quickly, it gives me a very nice, glowing radiating look on this image. So I can bump that up to about there, I like that, and press OK. What we need to know about this stuff, though, is I've told you, if you make a stamp, you can use a stamp on the layers below. But all the things that we need to consider when working with layers in Photoshop are, if it's on the top and it's opaque, it's gonna take precedence over everything that's happening below. Always keep that in mind. Right now, this isn't opaque because it's got a soft light blend mode set to it, so if things do happen underneath, it will change. But if we change this from soft light to normal, and you're working and say you add a curves adjustment layer under here, you're like, oh yeah, I'll just bump this up, it's not gonna do anything, okay? So always remember the layer stack and the priority of things. If it's down here, it's gonna take less priority than what's up here, and typically what's on top is gonna interact more with the things that are on the bottom. What happens underneath, things change a little bit when we start to get into things like blend if on top layers, but we won't open that can of worms at this point. So we'll just go ahead and delete that. Change this back to soft light. And that's that radiating kinda glowing kind of blur look that I like. But there are some things in here that I don't like and that may be the side of this building. If that's the case, you can combine these filters that you're using with things like masks. Also I wanna get in the habit of teaching you to rename your layers blur, glow, so that we know that that is a blur glowing effect. And if you wanted to you could even right click it, and because it's in effect, we can make it purple or violet. If I add a mask to this, I can just press B for my brush tool and then X for black and just paint in the areas that I did not want that to affect. So the point here is that yes, we can use these filters, but we can also use these filters with all the other things we've talked about. Blend modes, opacity, fill, masking, blend if. Always keep that in your head, those apps that you can access for any layer that shows up in your layer stack. Using, if we just took that Gaussian blur for face value, look what happens if we just take that Gaussian blur for face value. It does nothing for us. But when we use that Gaussian blue and we add that blend mode to it of either overlay, which is really powerful, or soft light, which is more subtle, we get a totally different effect. So go through those blend modes after you do it too. You know, I've taught you a lot of these blend modes, but don't be afraid to be that person who's like, well, I don't know what blend mode to use. Just go through them. Darken multiply looks pretty good. Color burn, that looks pretty good, if we drop the fill, because remember, color burn is based on fill and not based on opacity. But just go through them and see what you like about things. I'm a big fan of finding the good from the bad. I had a painting professor once that told us to make bad paintings. We did a whole two week lesson on bad paintings. And I remember going to him, I said look man, I'm Blake Rudis, I don't make bad paintings. And he goes, no, you will make a bad painting. So what I did was I said, okay, that's cool, I'll make a bad painting, and I tried to make the worst possible painting possible. I tried to make a painting that included Jasper Johns and Jackson Pollock in it, 'cause those were two people I could not stand at the time. So I combined both of them together, and I'm telling you this for a reason, this is an aside but it's a very important aside, as an artist. Get yourself doing something very uncomfortable, 'cause as you do that thing that's very uncomfortable, you're gonna find the things that make you vulnerable, and when you find those things that make you vulnerable you might actually accept them. So I do this Jasper Johns and Jackson Pollock thing. I was in my studio, on like cloud nine, throwing paint all over this canvas, and I was like, now I know why Jackson Pollock loves this, this is awesome. So then I'm like overlaying things like Jasper. I'm getting goosebumps thinking about this. Overlaying like, layers of, I really am, I'm getting opacity of paint on top of this canvas to mix the two styles, and when I was done, that bad painting was better than the good painting I made. It was a good and bad painting duality type thing. Everyone loved the bad painting. It completely changed my entire direction as an artist, as a painter. From that day on I stopped painting realistically and I started embracing the things that I felt that made me the most vulnerable. So why I say that is you see a blend mode like this that's like, ugh, it's looks horrible, look how dark everything is. But what are the things that we could possibly like about this? Look at what's happening to this sky back here when we have this set to color burn. This sky looks brilliant, it looks gorgeous. You know how many layers it would take to make that? It'd take a lot of layers to make that. So if we like that we can embrace that. We know that the color burn applies itself with fill, we can drop that fill a little bit, and then maybe on this mask, just start painting with black a little bit more to resurrect that sky and keep the sky the way it is, and just blur out the rest of that stuff. Now we did something uncomfortable, we did something that took us out of our comfort zone by using a blend mode that we typically don't use, but because we know that fill controls it, we can do something that we can embrace. Drop this a little bit. Let's go and, there's all kinds of things you can use with the Gaussian blur. That Gaussian blur can even be used on masks. If you have a mask that needs a little bit of a blur to it, you can use a Gaussian blur on a mask. You'll find that that Gaussian blur can even help you smoothing out skin tones and stuff like that with a very low opacity. It's a pretty powerful tool. The next blur that you might find yourself using, we'll press command or control J and we'll call this tilt-shift. These blurs work really well if you have a city scape like this where you got cars going around and you wanna make it look like they're all toys. You can use a tilt-shift blur and it makes everything look like these little teeny tiny matchbox cars. So if we go to filter, we go to blur gallery, which is not in the blurs, we go to blur gallery, we can do tilt-shift. And inside this blur gallery, what it's gonna do is it's gonna give you, ah, there we go, okay. Inside this blur gallery you're gonna see not just tilt-shift but you also have your iris blur and field blur in here too, and path blur. So I told you in that one image with the guns that were kinda going, I used a path blur to blur those guns. A lot of these tools work very much the same, so I'm just gonna cover the tilt-shift and you can see how it kinda works with the rest of them there. So if we go in, the way the tilt-shift works is the center of this tilt-shift is the area that's not gonna have any blur at all. This is gonna be where the blur is gonna begin and this is the feather of the blur. So this right here, this point between here and here, none of this is gonna be blurry, but then this point between here and here is gonna feather, and then all of this is gonna be really blurry. So if we were to bump up that blur really high, you can see that it's not going to be affecting this strip right here, but it's gonna be affecting this area our here. Where you can use tilt-shift outside of something like this, instead of just a clever use to make cars look small and like toys, is if you wanna do kind of like a vignetted type of blur on the top and bottom of a scene, whether it's landscape or portrait or something like that, to help narrow the focus down into something. Clearly I would not use a blur that's that high, I would then bring this blur down a little bit. But you can grab this pin and you can move this pin around. And then after you move it to exactly where you want it, once you come up here, right on top of it, you see that pin plus the plus sign looks like a little arrow that looks like, this you can pull and move it to the left and to the right and get it exactly where you want it to be right there. If you press and old shift, it'll only move at angles instead of allowing you to freeform move it around. So I'll put it right there. Again, that's a thing that you're gonna find in pretty much every single tool in Photoshop. If you wanna maintain a straight line, press and hold shift at all times. Any tool, it'll maintain a straight line or some time of angle if you're rotating something. So if I move this down to here, that's gonna minimize just from the top to the bottom, just from that top line down to the middle. If I press alt or option when I do it, it's gonna move them evenly. So I don't have to do this and then come down and do this. I just come down to the one and then press alt or option and it moves them evenly. Get it right to about there. And then these, you can even do the same thing here, alt or option, and I'll move those evenly as well too. That's another thing, like cropping and stuff like that, using the shift and the alt and the option key. So I'll go ahead and just move that up a little bit more, right to about there. Get a nice blur there. And why this makes it looks like toys is it really just narrows your focus down into that one area and doesn't really allow the other parts to become a distraction to your eyes. And it looks like what it would look like if you were looking at little, you know, toys going around in a thing, it's pretty cool. Underneath this set of tools down here, you're gonna see effects, motion effects and noise. So this light bokeh here, you can allow lights that are underneath to kind of peek through in that blur and get that bokeh type of effect. And you can even add a more warm color to those as they brighten up underneath that too, which really starts to push that toy look type of effect. The light range, this is gonna be just like your luminance masking that you've seen before in things like Adobe Camera Raw. The light range, this'll help you pinpoint what lights you want to incorporate underneath that bokeh. So if we bring this down, anything that's dark, basically it's very, the light areas that are transitioning into darker areas will start to show up as big, bold lights, which, that does not look good. But if we bring it up you start to see how it narrows down the focus. And then this will narrow down other, it'll basically take the white areas and force them down to become brighter. But we don't need to do that, we'll just do something like, that looks good. Now if you either press enter, that's, you could press enter and that would get you back into Photoshop, or you just press OK. And then all of your settings are on there from your tilt-shift style blur. Another blur that I really like to do is a radial burst blur. And this is definitely a Blake signature move that I've never seen anybody else do, so you're getting some free cool stuff. What I like to do with this, especially with an image like this, we've seen this image many many times. But what I wanna do with this is I want to incorporate many, a couple of different things at this point. I want to incorporate, kinda like luminosity masking, with a filter. So let's go ahead and go up to select, go to color range, and with this I specifically wanna find my highlights. I wanna make the highlights look like they're bursting through the tree. So I'm gonna go to sample colors and switch this to highlights, and then affect my range. I want that range to be rather small, so something like that would be good, 'cause I'm really just trying to get the highlights that are happening within that tree, in that tree area. Press OK. And then I'll press command or control J. And what that's gonna do, because it was a selection, is it's going to make a selection and not mask it, because I'm duplicating a pixel-based layer. If I press control J on a pixel-based layer that has a selection, it will make a new pixel-based layer from those selections. So it's not gonna come through with a mask and that's exactly what I want. I don't want this to come through with the mask, I want it to be those highlights. If we wanted to see those highlights underneath, let's just put a color fill under here. And that layer is all my highlights separated from my image. Now I didn't delete them from the background, I just stole them. I just appropriated the highlights from there so that I could make this radial burst. So if I double click on this and call this radial burst, I'm gonna go up to filter, I'm gonna go up to blur, and I'm gonna use what's called a radial blur. Now the radial blur, this is an older filter. A lot of these filters that end up in Photoshop just stay where they are because they've been there forever, and I don't know many people that use this too much. You can make things look really cool like these really trippy kinda warpy looking things, like your focus is just radial blurred all over the place. But there's one called the zoom blur. And if I move this amount up to about right here, what that's showing you as you move the amount up is how much things are gonna be forced out. If I change this to spin, it's how much something would spin. I don't want this to set to spin, I want it set to zoom. This point location right here can be moved around the image. Now the thing that stinks about this, really though, is that this is not very intuitive. This is a box and this is a rectangle. So, you know, finding the exact point where you need to put this can be difficult, which, converting this to a smart object before is probably a good idea, so that when we go up to filter, blur and radial blur, we can go back into it if we need to to get it set up where we want it to be. So I'll bump up that amount and I'll bring it up right to about here like this. And let's just do a pretty high amount, press OK. And now, if we were to turn our solid color overlay on underneath, look at that. Pretty darn cool. So what we did was we took our highlights and turned them into a radial bursting type of effect that happens on top of our image. By default they might not show through very well. You might have to maybe duplicate them by pressing command or control J to duplicate that effect. Now we have what would look like a foggy day, and those things just bursting through the tree. If we were to go ahead and click on this one, press and hold shift, click on the one below, control E and merge them together, now they are merged together with that effect. We lose the smart object part, but we just duplicated and amplified that effect a little more. But, just like anytime you see this happening, do you really see it bursting through the shadowy areas of a tree? Not necessarily. So what can we use? Blend if. If I double click on this layer and go into blend if, move this over, alt or option to spread it, we would see a little bit of a haze on those shadows, right? Spread that over and there we go. It's protecting our shadow areas from that bursting effect and only really coming through on the highlight and the shadow areas. Before, after, before, after. If they're too streaky, because they can be too streaky sometimes, you can add another filter to a filtered layer. Go to filter, then go to blur, go to Gaussian blur, and we can drop that Gaussian blur a little bit, so it just looks like a haze burst rather than just these streaks that are shooting through the tree. Go right there and press OK. Before, after, before, after. We'll zoom out a little bit. Awesome, I use that effect a lot, especially when I'm shooting in the forest. It's very hard to see the forest from the trees, is that that thing that they say? Really, because there's a lot of chaos that happens in a forest, and you can really help separate that chaos by doing some of these blurs.