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Photoshop’s Filters

Filters are used to change the appearance of an image, layer or selection in Photoshop. In this tutorial, I’ll introduce you to some common filters, and show you how to use them.

For me, filters in Photoshop are sort of like those special effects you can add to home videos with those consumer handheld video cameras — easy to use, but they certainly have their place in design. That said, there are plenty of ways to get creative using filters, so they are definitely worth understanding in Photoshop!

Using Filters from the Filter Gallery

Photoshop’s Filter Gallery is basically a one-stop place for working with filters in your documents. In the Filter Gallery, you can browse through many different types of filters, apply them individually to your image, or even stack them on top of one another like you would with layers. You can get to the Filter Gallery by going to Filter > Filter Gallery.

Here’s a quick overview of the Filter Gallery:

Photoshop\'s Filter Gallery

Filter Gallery Interface

A. Filter Preview

B. Filter List (Note: You can show or hide this list by clicking the arrow icon to the top right of it)

C. Currently Selected Filter

D. Filter Options

E. Effect Layers

F. New / Delete Effect Layer

The Filter Effect Layers work just like ordinary filters in Photoshop, and can be dragged and dropped on top of one another for desired results.

Applying a filter from the gallery is very easy to do. Simply Click on a filter, adjust it’s options to your liking, and click OK to apply. To stack multiple filters on top of one another, just hit the New Effect Layer (‘F’ in diagram above), and select another filter. You can expand filter types by clicking the folders in the filter list.

Apply a filter from the filter gallery

The Cutout Filter quickly transforms a photograph into an abstract piece of art.

Quicker Access to Filters

The Filter Gallery is really just a browser of sorts. If you know exactly what kind of filter you want to use, you can access it directly from the Filter menu in Photoshop to speed things up.

Using Other Filters

Not all filters in Photoshop are available through the Filter Gallery. Many of them must be accessed directly through the Filter Menu, and have unique interfaces and options of their own.

We’re not going to go over every individual filter in this tutorial (doing so would take a very long time), but I highly suggest doing some experimentation on your part with different filters to get an idea of what some of them do.

Let’s look at some of the more common filters used frequently in design.

Blur Filters (Filter > Blur)

The Blur Filters are useful in lots of situations. We’ve actually written several popular tutorials on Tutorial9 that depend on the Blur Filters, such as our article on Adding Depth of Field in Photoshop, and our Windows Vista Aurora Effect Tutorial.

Create a realistic Lens Blur in Photoshop

The Lens Blur Filter makes it very easy to create a realistic lens blur effect in Photoshop.

Noise Filters (Filter > Noise)

Noise Filters are great for adding, or reducing noise and grain in photographs. You may find filters such as the Reduce Noise Filter extremely useful if you work with old, damaged, or dusty photographs that need repair work done to them. The Add Noise Filter can also come in handy, and has some creative applications of its own.

Reduce Noise in a Photograph with the Reduce Noise Filter

Noise can easily be reduced with the Reduce Noise Filter in Photoshop.

Sharpen Filters (Filter > Sharpen)

The Sharpen Filters are also great for correcting imperfections in photographs, as well as putting emphasis on important elements in a design. When working with blurred images, a sharpen filter can be used to clarify and better define edges by increasing contrast between pixels.

Sharpening a Photo with the Sharpen Filter

The Smart Sharpen Filter used to sharpen a photograph of a statue.

Filters Disabled?

While all filters are available to be used on 8-bit RGB images, many will be unavailable if working with other color spaces, 16-bit, or 32-bit documents. Filters will also be unavailable for use in Bitmap and Indexed-color documents.

If you’re not able to use filters, you may need to go to Image > Mode, and make sure you’re set to RGB, and 8 Bits/Channel, although some image data may be lost.

54 Comments

  1. Add point Subtract point
    น้ำหอมฟีโรโมน (-1 Points) November 19, 2010 at 9:50 am

    The most of photoshop filters look terrible.

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  2. Add point Subtract point
    ทาสีคอนโด (-1 Points) November 10, 2010 at 3:07 pm

    Very good technique

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  3. Add point Subtract point
    sahar (-2 Points) June 17, 2010 at 2:22 am

    i want a new filters in photoshop

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  4. Add point Subtract point
    wasim pathan (-2 Points) May 4, 2010 at 2:56 am

    This is the my favorit website.I love this website. This website is world first number website.

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  5. Add point Subtract point
    Web Design (1 Point) April 26, 2010 at 7:58 pm

    Great tutorial keep it up.thanks for sharing

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  6. Add point Subtract point
    Kellie Wade (-2 Points) April 20, 2010 at 2:54 pm

    I have a picture, I created an alpha channel (basically deleted the background) now I can’t use any of the filters? Can someone help me. They are all gray-ed out… :(

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  7. Add point Subtract point
    pawan kumar (-1 Points) April 20, 2010 at 4:29 am

    hi this is my favrate site

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  8. Add point Subtract point
    psn card (-5 Points) March 9, 2010 at 9:49 am

    PlayStation Network Cards or psn cards are prepaid cards used to buy PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Portable contents in the online PlayStation network. Our Online PSN Store is easy to buy psn card USA only) directly via Paypal which is very safe.

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  9. Add point Subtract point
    เพลงใหม่ล่าสุด (-1 Points) February 3, 2010 at 12:03 am

    wow thanks so much.164

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  10. Add point Subtract point
    เพลงใหม่ล่าสุด (-2 Points) February 2, 2010 at 1:38 am

    wow thanks so much.151

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  11. Add point Subtract point
    เพลงใหม่ล่าสุด (-1 Points) February 1, 2010 at 2:55 am

    wow thanks so much.146

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  12. Add point Subtract point
    โหลดเพลงใหม่ฟรี (0 Points) January 30, 2010 at 11:30 am

    wow Cool tip thank for sharing.

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  13. Add point Subtract point
    ดาวน์โหลดเพลงฟรี (0 Points) January 28, 2010 at 8:29 pm

    Great article. Thank you.

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  14. Add point Subtract point
    swaminathan.c (1 Point) August 26, 2009 at 12:29 am

    tutorial 9 is understanding to filter option easyly.easy lesining @ learning

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  15. Add point Subtract point
    supremegraphx (2 Points) July 3, 2009 at 2:23 pm

    this is just what i need. tutorial 9 .com is so great. they way you put tutorials together and how easy and understanding they are to actually understand. thanks for the great tutorials

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  16. Add point Subtract point
    Jacky (0 Points) May 6, 2009 at 12:26 am

    hi , i am a Chinese,
    it is my first time come here,
    my english is not good,but i will try my best to learn photoshop effects .
    your class is so wonderful,thankyou so much“`

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  17. Add point Subtract point
    huwaw69 (0 Points) May 3, 2009 at 4:07 am

    Wow great guide on using filters, i really i have no idea on how to use them.. thanks

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  18. Add point Subtract point
    sriganesh (0 Points) March 24, 2009 at 2:55 pm

    nice site and nice tutorial, i am newbie, how to improve in design field, any suggestions???- i launched my own site, and posted my few art work,i know i have to improve , plz help me in this. see my portfolio.

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  19. Add point Subtract point
    sababa (0 Points) March 22, 2009 at 2:17 pm

    in my photoshsp i cant find the filter gallery thing….its not there in the filter option..:S is there any other way 2 get rid of blur effect??

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  20. Add point Subtract point

    Steph, if you’re careful you can dull that shiny spot with the right amount of burn (using the burn tool, obviously). Watch the color balance in the area you’re working on. I know exactly what you’re talking about – it can be annoying!

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  21. Add point Subtract point
    BridGet (0 Points) October 20, 2008 at 5:09 pm

    this is so cool I mean the picture the filter and the noise make alot of difrence in the photo.

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  22. Add point Subtract point
    Stephanie (-1 Points) August 17, 2008 at 3:40 am

    Hey guys! How do I get rid of the sheen (gloss/ glare/perspiration/flash spot combination) on my subject’s face? I have found countless tricks as to how to soften the skin, which is great, but I need to get rid of that annoying sheen/ oil/ spot. Does anyone know what I am talking about? I’m a beginner, so all hints will be greatly appreciated. I have searched (and searched) books and websites for the formula, but no avail!
    Anyone?

    Thanks!
    Steph

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  23. Add point Subtract point
    kts-i-tec (0 Points) July 23, 2008 at 2:53 pm

    hai it’s fantastic sites very thanks all

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  24. Add point Subtract point
    Josh (0 Points) July 2, 2008 at 7:05 pm

    Love how all your tuts are even easy to comprehend
    for the beginners, as well as the experienced.

    Do keep up the good work!

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  25. Add point Subtract point
    RUGRLN (1 Point) June 6, 2008 at 4:31 am

    Great stuff…me too waiting for the ‘Test’, somehow in Ps I’m not so creative but in Fw I’m a bit more. Probably cuz it’s easier to use…

    Anyways, you’ve given me a great head start in Ps which has allowed me to go to the more advanced tuts you got. Keep it up!!!!

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  26. Add point Subtract point

    Thanks folks =) Very happy to hear we’ve become your favorite Marsuri!

    @ CJ.H – I’ve been trying to mix my submissions up lately so that I can finish up the School of Photoshop while at the same time publish some killer new Tutorials that don’t focus on the basics. I’ve almost got my schedule down to a science, which is definitely allowing me to publish on a more frequent basis :)

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  27. Add point Subtract point

    Great tutorial, I never knew about the smart sharpen one.

    I know that you like to focus more on giving us the tools to make something amazing, but Im looking forward to another step by step tutorial on making something awesome. (Just my hungry unoriginal mind.)

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  28. Add point Subtract point
    Marsuri (2 Points) June 4, 2008 at 11:14 pm

    This is my favorite site about basin photoshop! Keep it up guys!

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  29. Add point Subtract point
    Tyler Durden (1 Point) June 4, 2008 at 8:54 pm

    nice little explanation of filters.

    one of my favourite filters is fractillus(i think thats how you spell it) you can get some really neat effects with it

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