Digital Scrapbook Tutorial | Filters and Effects Basics

Hi all, Ona here with a tutorial on Photoshop Filters and Effects. You can use filters to clean up or retouch your photos, apply special art effects that give your image the appearance of a sketch or impressionistic painting, or create unique transformations using distortions and lighting effects. The filters are located under the Filter menu. Some filters are created by third-party developers and are known as plug-ins. After downloading and installing a plug-in it is then available at the bottom of the Filter menu.

Effects is another name for a Style. A common style that digital scrapbookers use is the Drop Shadow style but there are other types of styles that can apply a texture, glitter or a colour to an active layer. Photoshop comes with its own styles but like plug-ins, styles can be purchased or downloaded for free from a lot of internet sites. 

This is my completed layout using the photo that I have applied filters and an effect to, read on to see the steps that I took in creating it.

This tutorial will just cover some of the basics things you need to know about using filters and effects and in coming tutorials I will explore some of them individually as they can be used extensively to create unique and creative layouts.

 Using a Filter (things to know):
- Filters are applied to the active, visible layer or a selection. 
- Once you apply a filter you cannot go back and change or tweak the filter (unless you change your layer to a Smart Object - this will be covered in my next tutorial).
- You can stack filters on top of one another in the Filter Gallery but again, you can not change or tweak the individual filters unless they are applied to a Smart Object.
- Filters cannot be applied to Bitmap-mode or indexed-color images.
- Some filters work only on RGB images.
- Some filters are processed entirely in RAM. If you don’t have enough available RAM to process a filter effect, you may get an error message.
- Most of the filters will open in the Filter Gallery where you can play around with the settings, change to a different filter or even stack more than one filter on top of each other.

Using a Style Effect (things to know):
- Style effects are applied to the active layer by clicking on the style button in the Style Panel.
- Style effects can be tweaked by going back into its style effect panel.
- A style effect can be deleted if it's not needed.
- Style effects can be installed/loaded through the Styles panel.

Working and applying Filters and Effects:
Let's work through the general steps in applying a filter and a style effect to a photograph.

My finished photo appears below, I have applied the Crosshatch and Texturizer filters to it, as well as a Colour Overlay style effect.

This was the original photo that I started with:

Here are the steps on how I created this photo.

Step 1. Duplicate the original photo layer! - this is really very important, ALWAYS work on a duplicate so that you have the original to go back to in case you need to start over again.

Step 2. CHECK that the default Foreground (black) and Background (white) colours are active. From the Filters menu select the Filters Gallery command (or press CTRL+F).

Step 3. At this point I played around with all of the filters to find one that I wanted to use. Simply click on the filter and then play around with settings in the right hand side of the panel. Filters will give you different effects depending on the type of photo you are using so at times the filters may well give you some very strange or weird results.

I finally decided on the Crosshatch filter, the settings I used are shown below:

Step 4. I wanted to add another filter from the Texture group. I had two options, add a texture filter on top of the Crosshatch filter in the Filter Gallery itself, or apply the texture filter to another duplicated layer of the original photo and then use the Photoshop blending modes to blend the two filters together. I went with the second option and here is why.

This is how the photo looked in the Filters Gallery with -
a. the Texture filter stacked on top of the Crosshatch filter - not too bad but I couldn't lower the opacity of the texture at all.

b. the Crosshatch filter stacked on top of the Texture filter - this wasn't what I was after.

So I went back to my original photo layer and duplicated it and then went back to the Filters Gallery to apply the Texture filter to it, the settings I used are shown below.

Step 5. Back in Photoshop I then played with the blending modes and layer opacity on the Texture filter layer until I was happy with it.

Step 6. Next I created a composite merged layer (of the two filter layers) so I could apply a style effect. To create a composite merged layer, click on the very top layer and use the keyboard combination of CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E

Step 7. Working on the merged layer I then headed over to the Styles panel. If it is not showing for you, go to the Windows menu and click the Styles option - the Styles panel should then open. 

As I have mentioned you can search the internet for various styles which can be purchased or available for free, but don't forget that Photoshop does come with some basic styles that are quite handy. Again, you need to spend some time just playing with these to see what they do and again, the resulting effect will also depend on the photo (or item) you are applying the style to.

For this example I will keep it simple and just go with a Color Overlay style. On the Styles panel, click the little settings icon in the top right corner, it looks like a series of small horizontal lines on top of each other. From the drop down menu  I selected the Photographic Effects group and then chose the Orange Tone color

.By the way, if you download a style from the internet, you would use the Load Styles command that I have marked on the menu above.

Step 8. Tweaking a style effect is easily done and can be changed if needed. As you can see in the screen shot below, Photoshop alerts you that a style has been applied to that layer by placing a small  FX symbol (1) to the right hand side of the layer, and underneath the object it will place the name of the Effects (2) you used, in this case the Colour Overlay (3) - if you used more than one effect they will all be listed.

 When you want to work on the effect just click on any of the spots - 1, 2 or 3 above. Clicking 1 or 2 will open the Layers panel first, whereas clicking on the actual effect will take you to straight to that effects panel.

Layers panel - refers to the layer as a whole:
This is what you see if you clicked on the FX symbol (1)  or the word Effects (2):

This panel refers to the layer in general (A) and you can change the blend mode, opacity and other things in this spot (B). Click on the effect you want to work with (C). You can also add or delete filters in this panel as well (D).

Effects panel - refers to the effect itself:
Whether you clicked on the effect text on the layer (3), or selected the effect in the Layers panel (C) the panel for the effect will now open.

In this panel you can tweak the specific effect (E) to suit your needs. Depending on the style effect you used the settings (F) will differ. For the Color Overlay effect I can change the colour, its blending mode and opacity - be aware these settings will only be used on the effect, NOT the general layer as a whole. You do need to play and experiment to see how it all works together.

As I mentioned at the start of this tutorial, there are quite a few filters and effects that ship with Photoshop and I will look at some of these in more depth in future tutorials. Hopefully you now have enough information to start playing around with filters and effects and have some creative fun!

In closing I would like share an inspiring layout done by Captivating Sista Ellen:

Ellen's comments: "I took the photo and applied the Find Lines filter. Enlarged it, layered it above the background paper and applied a darken blend. I then extracted the statue, clipped paper from Those Wings to it and used a Hard Light blend.  I also added a border from Wake Up And Be Awesome, colored it a coral color to match the flower and gave it a linear burn blend.

Rachel and I would love to see any layouts you complete using this tutorial, post them into the Captivated Visions Gallery at Sweet Shoppe Designs and remember to link us up here as well.

If you have any questions then please ask here, I am only too happy to help you.

Until next time,
Ona