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Filters offer lots of options for enhancing your photos. Many of the filters in Elements are decorative, fun to play with, but there are also some filters that are useful for photographic techniques, like sharpening, blurring, reducing noise. Before I get started showing you how to apply filters, I want to be sure you know that you can apply a filter to only one layer at a time. So if I look in the layers panel over here, I see that I have a layer with a photo, and I have another layer with a frame, and if I want to apply filter to both of these, and I need to be sure to select the layer to which I want to apply the filter.
So if I wanted the filter only on the photo, I would click on the photo layer, and then apply a filter. What if I do want to apply a filter to multiple layers? Well, here's a little trick for you. In the layers panel I'll select the topmost layer to which I want a filter to apply, and then I'm going to go over to the Panel menu, and I'm going to go up to Merge Visible. Before I click that, I am going to hold down the Option key, and then I'll click on Merge Visible. What that does is create a new layer that's a composite of the content of all the layers below.
So if I hold the Option key and click on the eye icon to the left of that new layer, you can see that it contains all of the content of the photo layer and the frame layer, and now, I could apply a filter to this Composite layer, so that it would affect the whole image. To show you how to apply layers, I am going to bring up another image by double-clicking it down here in the Project Bin, this photograph of some skulls in Santa Fe. There are three different places from which I can apply filters. I can go out to the Filter menu and apply a filter from one of the categories here, or I can use the Filter Gallery from the filter menu, or I can go over to the Effects panel, click on this first icon, and apply filters using the thumbnails that you see here.
When I'm applying a photographic type filter, like Noise Reduction or Sharpening, I will usually just go up to the Filter menu, and I'll go down to the filter category, say, Noise, and then I'll select the filter that I want to apply, like this Reduce Noise Filter. That will open a dialog box where I can make some choices that control the way the filter looks, and if I like the result, I'll click OK. I am actually just going to click Cancel at this point, so I can go on and show you the other ways to apply filters. If I'm applying a decorative filter, the method I just showed you isn't very satisfying, because I don't get a terrific preview when I am choosing which filter to apply.
So in that case, I might choose Filter Gallery. The Filter Gallery dialog box shows me a preview of the image over here. If I want to see the whole image, I can click the little minus at the bottom-left of the preview. In the center are categories of decorative filters. I can expand any category by clicking the arrow to the left of it, which I will do now for the Artistic category, and here I see thumbnails that represent each of the filters in that category. I am going to select one of those thumbnails, the Poster Edges Thumbnail, and that brings up some options for this particular filter over here on the right.
It also previews the way that the image will look with the filter with its default options. Dragging the sliders on the right will change the way that the image appears with the filter on it. In this list down here, I can see all of the filters I've chosen to apply to this image, and I can apply more than one filter. The way to add another filter is to go down to the bottom of this list of filters and click this icon right here, and that makes a duplicate of the existing filter. With that duplicate selected in this list, I'm going to go back over to the categories in the middle, and I am going to expand the texture category by clicking the arrow there, and then I'll scroll down, and I'm going to click on the Texturizer Filter and that changes that Duplicate Filter to the Texturizer Filter.
Here I can experiment with the sliders, which change the look of the filter. I also have options here to delete any one of these filters by selecting it and clicking the Trash icon, or I can turn a filter off temporarily, so I can see what the image looks like without it by clicking the eye icon to the left of it in this list. When I'm satisfied with my filters I'll click OK. And that applies them to the image. Because I can't really come back in and tweak a filter after I've applied it, you can see how the Filter Gallery with its large preview and all of its options can come in quite handy.
There's one more way to apply filters and that's from the Effects panel over here. I have the first icon on the Effects panel selected. And that's the Filter icon. There are categories of filters in this menu. Choosing a different category, like the Pixelate category, changes the thumbnails that are available here. If I want to apply one of these filters, I can select its thumbnail and then click the Apply button. Then in the dialog box it opens, and sometimes this is the Filter Gallery, I can click OK. So that's applied a Halftone filter.
It's not really a filter that I want to keep, so I am going to undo it by pressing Command+Z on my keyboard. So those are three different ways to apply filters, from the Filter menu, the Filter Gallery, and the Effects panel, here in Elements' Full Edit Workspace.
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