Start your free trial now, and begin learning software, business and creative skills—anytime, anywhere—with video instruction from recognized industry experts.

Start Your Free Trial Now

Creating a lens distortion effect


Photoshop CS4 One-on-One: Mastery

with Deke McClelland

Video: Creating a lens distortion effect

All right, so if Content-Aware Scale is not the tool for this image, what is? The effect that we're about to apply is going to result in distortion. We are going to end up distorting the house in the background. There's no getting around that, because we need the house to bend incrementally as it goes away from the family. We don't want some sort of radical sudden transition. So it's going to have to be incremental, which means it's going to have to include distortion, but it's going to end up looking like a kind of lens distortion, as opposed to the house falling apart, which I think is very important and of course, a much better effect.
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 21m 20s
    1. Welcome
      1m 21s
    2. Installing the DekeKeys keyboard shortcuts
      5m 38s
    3. Resetting the Function keys on a Mac
      3m 51s
    4. Installing the CS4 color settings
      4m 37s
    5. Setting up the CS4 color settings
      5m 53s
  2. 2h 31m
    1. Introduction to masking
    2. Introducing color range
      4m 22s
    3. Adding base colors and adjusting fuzziness
      4m 46s
    4. Localized color clusters
      6m 12s
    5. The Quick Mask mode
      7m 33s
    6. Viewing a quick mask by itself
      6m 40s
    7. Testing the quality of edges
      3m 55s
    8. Introducing the Masks palette
      7m 45s
    9. Editing a layer mask
      6m 18s
    10. Choking a mask with Gaussian Blur and Levels
      6m 44s
    11. Choking a mask with Mask Edge
      7m 43s
    12. Adding a Gradient Overlay shadow
      4m 23s
    13. Using live Density and Feather
      6m 12s
    14. Journeyman masking
      5m 44s
    15. Creating an alpha channel
      7m 6s
    16. Increasing contrast
      7m 15s
    17. Overlay painting
      8m 28s
    18. Cleaning up whites and blacks
      5m 48s
    19. Soft light painting
      5m 47s
    20. Selecting in style
      6m 55s
    21. Employing masks as selections
      5m 2s
    22. Scaling and compositing layers
      6m 30s
    23. Compositing glass
      5m 10s
    24. Selecting glass highlights
      8m 41s
    25. Working with found masks
      5m 46s
  3. 1h 34m
    1. Introduction to vector-based shapes
      1m 10s
    2. Vector-based type outlines
      7m 23s
    3. The benefits of vectors
      6m 27s
    4. Upsampling vs. nondestructive scaling
      7m 35s
    5. Vectors and effects
      8m 7s
    6. Fill Opacity and clipped layers
      4m 24s
    7. Basic shape creation
      3m 15s
    8. Drawing interacting shapes
      6m 21s
    9. Power-duplicating paths
      3m 12s
    10. Combining pixels and vector masks
      5m 19s
    11. Line tool and layer attributes
      7m 5s
    12. Copying and pasting path outlines
      3m 28s
    13. Drawing custom shapes
      3m 59s
    14. Drawing with the Pen tool
      7m 48s
    15. Creating cusp points
      7m 28s
    16. Defining a custom shape
      3m 34s
    17. Assigning a vector mask to an image
      2m 38s
    18. Adding a vector object to a composition
      5m 40s
  4. 1h 24m
    1. Introduction to Vanishing Point
      1m 11s
    2. Creating and saving the first plane
      8m 9s
    3. Creating perpendicular planes
      5m 16s
    4. Healing in perspective
      8m 47s
    5. Cloning and scaling in perspective
      8m 34s
    6. Patching an irregularly shaped area
      6m 59s
    7. Healing between planes
      3m 35s
    8. Importing an image into a 3D scene
      5m 46s
    9. Adding perspective type
      5m 37s
    10. Removing and matching perspective
      5m 36s
    11. Applying a reflection in perspective
      5m 1s
    12. Creating a perspective gradient
      6m 11s
    13. Converting a gradient to a mask
      2m 58s
    14. Swinging planes to custom angles
      4m 32s
    15. Wrapping art around multiple surfaces
      5m 49s
  5. 1h 15m
    1. Introduction to Smart Objects
    2. Placing a Smart Object
      5m 7s
    3. Saving a PDF-compatible AI file
      4m 27s
    4. Performing nondestructive transformations
      6m 8s
    5. Editing a Smart Object in Illustrator
      6m 50s
    6. Converting an image to a Smart Object
      6m 50s
    7. Cloning Smart Objects
      5m 24s
    8. Creating a multilayer Smart Object
      5m 51s
    9. Updating multiple instances at once
      2m 55s
    10. Creating a Camera Raw Smart Object
      4m 17s
    11. Editing a Camera Raw Smart Object
      3m 25s
    12. Assembling a layered ACR composition
      5m 55s
    13. Using an ACR Smart Object to effect
      3m 41s
    14. Blending multiple ACR portraits
      6m 56s
    15. Live type that inverts everything behind it
      6m 33s
  6. 1h 48m
    1. Introducing nondestructive Smart Filters
    2. Applying a Smart Filter
      4m 22s
    3. Adjusting filter and blend settings
      4m 25s
    4. Heaping on the Smart Filters
      5m 19s
    5. Smart Filter stacking order
      7m 23s
    6. Resolution and Smart Filter radius
      6m 12s
    7. Masking Smart Filters
      4m 42s
    8. Employing nested Smart Objects
      5m 5s
    9. Dragging and dropping Smart Filters
      6m 31s
    10. Using the Shadows/Highlights filter
      5m 53s
    11. Regaining access to the pixels
      7m 8s
    12. Parametric wonderland
      5m 52s
    13. Working with the Filter Gallery
      6m 28s
    14. Freeform filter jam
      5m 52s
    15. Swapping filters from the Filter Gallery
      3m 45s
    16. Mixing all varieties of parametric effects
      7m 30s
    17. Addressing a few Smart Filter bugs
      3m 11s
    18. Applying a Smart Filter to live type
      5m 30s
    19. Choking letters with Maximum
      3m 7s
    20. Duplicating a Smart Filter
      2m 38s
    21. Enhancing a filter with a layer effect
      6m 30s
  7. 1h 6m
    1. Introduction to Auto-Align, Auto-Blend, and Photomerge
      1m 2s
    2. Merging two shots into one
      3m 49s
    3. Applying Auto-Align layers
      3m 44s
    4. Masking images into a common scene
      1m 39s
    5. Auto-Align plus Auto-Blend
      8m 11s
    6. Assigning weighted Opacity values
      4m 7s
    7. Employing a Difference mask
      7m 17s
    8. Masking smarter, not harder
      3m 53s
    9. Capturing multiple depths of field
      3m 37s
    10. Auto-blending real focus
      8m 31s
    11. Creating a panorama with Photomerge
      7m 27s
    12. Correcting a seamless panorama
      4m 52s
    13. An altogether nondestructive Lab correction
      7m 59s
  8. 1h 44m
    1. Introduction to new CS4 technologies
      1m 1s
    2. Applying Content-Aware Scale
      7m 18s
    3. What works and what doesn't with Content-Aware Scale
      4m 19s
    4. Protecting areas with masks
      7m 31s
    5. Applying incremental edits
      7m 6s
    6. Protecting skin tones
      7m 12s
    7. Scaling around a model with TLC
      9m 0s
    8. Adjusting the scale threshold
      5m 22s
    9. When Content-Aware Scale fails
      4m 2s
    10. Creating a lens distortion effect
      8m 39s
    11. Layer masking the family
      11m 44s
    12. Installing the Pixel Bender
      3m 43s
    13. Introducing Pixel Bender kernels
      6m 50s
    14. Pixel Bender kernel roundup
      7m 24s
    15. Tube View and Ripple Blocks
      3m 58s
    16. Making a seamless pattern with Kaleidoscope
      6m 13s
    17. Introducing the Pixel Bender Toolkit
      3m 24s
  9. 1h 20m
    1. Introduction to actions
    2. Creating an action
      5m 45s
    3. Recording operations
      5m 12s
    4. Reviewing and editing an action
      4m 45s
    5. Playing an action (the Button Mode)
      4m 51s
    6. Saving and loading actions
      5m 0s
    7. Copying and modifying an action
      4m 8s
    8. Permitting the user to change settings
      5m 50s
    9. The Best Chrome Effect Ever II
      3m 41s
    10. Recording a fail-safe action
      7m 33s
    11. Rounding corners with a mask
      4m 33s
    12. Cleaning up layers
      3m 52s
    13. Automating layer effects
      7m 1s
    14. Applying chrome with Gradient Map
      6m 24s
    15. Action anomalies
      4m 11s
    16. Rendering effects to layers
      5m 1s
    17. Testing that it works
      2m 0s
  10. 1m 14s
    1. See ya
      1m 14s

please wait ...
Watch the Online Video Course Photoshop CS4 One-on-One: Mastery
13h 7m Advanced May 29, 2009

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

Photoshop mastery can be elusive, but in Photoshop CS4 One-on-One: Mastery, best-selling author and video trainer Deke McClelland teaches the most powerful, unconventional, and flexible features of the program. In this third and final installment of the popular and comprehensive series, Deke delves into the strongest features that Photoshop has to offer, including scalable vector graphics, Smart Objects, and Photomerge. Exercise files accompany the course.

Recommended prerequisites: Photoshop CS4 One-on-One: Fundamentals and Photoshop CS4 One-on-One: Advanced, both part of the Online Training Library®.

Download Deke's customized keyboard layouts and color settings for Photoshop from the Exercise Files tab.

Topics include:
  • Defining the essentials of masking
  • Resizing images with content-aware scaling
  • Adjusting perspective with Vanishing Point
  • Applying Smart Filters to create complex effects
  • Using the Auto-Align tool to build composite images
Design Photography
Deke McClelland

Creating a lens distortion effect

All right, so if Content-Aware Scale is not the tool for this image, what is? The effect that we're about to apply is going to result in distortion. We are going to end up distorting the house in the background. There's no getting around that, because we need the house to bend incrementally as it goes away from the family. We don't want some sort of radical sudden transition. So it's going to have to be incremental, which means it's going to have to include distortion, but it's going to end up looking like a kind of lens distortion, as opposed to the house falling apart, which I think is very important and of course, a much better effect.

I've gone ahead and saved this image along with the gradient, just in case you need it, and the name of the image is family_with _fradient.psd found inside the 29_new_tech folder. Here's what we're going to do. We're going to bring up the Info palette. This is actually about a 12 step technique just so that you know, but it's not hard. It's pretty easy. I didn't really count the steps. I don't know how many, but there are a few steps involved. We need the Info palette in order to see how big the area that we wanted to distort is. So again I was telling you, I'm not inclined to touch a hair on the family unit. I want them well protected. So I'm going to move out away from the girl here, so that we have about as much room between this selection and the girl's hand, as we do between the boy's pant leg and the far right side of the image.

So that's about here. Then I'm going to Shift+Drag all the way to the left edge of the image. It doesn't matter whether this is rectangular selection or not. I just want to make sure I have the left edge and the right edge identified. I'll go over here to the Info palette and notice that the width of that selection is 836 pixels. All right, that's all I care about. 836, get out my pen, write it down, because otherwise I'll forget, and then get rid of the Info palette. We're done with it for now. Go back to the Layers palette. Make sure that I've got the family sitting there. Good! Now Ctrl+D, Command+D on a Mac to deselect the image, and we want to jump it by pressing Ctl+Alt+J or Command+Option+J on the Mac, and we'll call this one distortion and then we'll click OK and then we'll press Enter or Return to create that layer.

All right, now we need to give ourselves just the same amount of dead room over on the right side of the images we have over on the left side of the image, because the distortion we're about to apply is utterly and completely symmetrical. So we need to have room on both sides. So I'll go up to the Image menu, and I'll choose the Canvas Size command or Ctrl+Alt+C, Command+Option+C on a Mac, and I'm going to turn on Relative, click the left-hand check lit, and I'm going to change the width value to 836. So we're adding 836 pixels on the right hand side, and I'll click OK. And then we get a bunch of transparency. Okay, that's fine.

Now then the command that we're about to choose is so old school I cannot believe it. It's a great command to this tape but it is a Photoshop 1.0 filter. So it's been with us 19 going on 20 years now. So it has nothing to do with new technology inside of Photoshop CS4, but I'm here to tell you, it is part of Photoshop CS4, and it's awesome technology. So having said that, go up to the Filter menu, choose Distort and then choose this command right there, Spherize. Believe it or not this is a command we're going to use. And then what I want you to do, instead of having the mode set to Normal, which goes ahead and wraps the image around the back of a spoon, makes it convex, so it's coming out at us. I want you to change mode to Horizontal Only.

So it's a GIF for wrapping the image around a can or something or a cylinder, and then leave the amount value set to 100%, we're going to do a big modification here and click OK, and that is going to stretch the heck out of the image. Notice that it's stretching the middle of the image more than the edges of the image. So we are wrapping that image around the cylinder or stretching the heck out of the family, and we are basically stretching the house very incrementally over here on the edges. So this seems to be exactly the opposite of what I was telling you I want to do. I want to protect the family, and I don't care about the house. Well, this happens to work out really nicely for us, as you'll see, because we're going to scoot everything in using Free Transform.

So I'm going to press the 5 key so that I can see the proper family in the background, because I want to kind of match them, and I'm going to leave everything exactly where we're seeing it here, and then I'm going to press Ctrl+T or Command+T on the Mac in order to invoke the Free Transform command. And let's go ahead and zoom in, and I want to see which detail in the image is pretty much where it needs to be, and I would say the middle of the boy's nose is about where it wants to be. So let's go ahead and find that target. It's right there, and we'll move it his nose, like so. Does that make sense? That's the part that we want to keep at its current location, and then we'll zoom back out. I can see my right hand handle right there. So that's good. I'll press and hold the Alt key or the Option key on the Mac, so that I'm scaling with respect to that point that I just moved the target point. I'll bring the edges in, until I see the edge of the boy's pant right there, this corner, and the edge of the girl's hand right there until I see them lining up where they ought to be. That should be about the location where we get as little distortion as possible out of this image, and I'm having a little problem with lining up her hand so I'll try some more.

Notice when I get our hand aligned, we're also getting the faces aligned pretty darn well, and let's see if I just make a slight additional adjustment here so you might get things even better in the place. The problem is I keep getting some snapping that I don't want. So I'll try pulling this guy out. So anyway, we're just trying to line things up with the family as much as possible. Once you figure it, you've got it about right, and you're never going to get it exactly right. There is a little bit of distortion that's going to happen inside the family no matter what. Then go ahead and press the Enter key or the Return key on the Mac, and then press the 0 key to increase the opacity of the image to 100%. Let's turn off the Family layer for a moment, and you can see this is what I was talking about. We have a lens distortion that's being applied to the house, and the family remains nice and intact. So they have avoided the effects of the distortion here. Only the house has been affected.

All right, so what if that's not enough? You can take another swing at it if you want to, and I'm going to just approve what a great effect this is and by the way, I should say it's going to work best if you have a high-resolution image. The higher the resolution the better, because after all you are stretching and squishing this image repeatedly in our case, because we're going to do the whole thing over again. All right so the image is more or less centered where it needs to be, and I can confirm that, and I should actually confirm that just by selecting sort of an area over on the left-hand edge, and then I'll move it over to the right hand edge, and I just want to make sure that we're indeed staying equal distant away from that family unit there, so that they remain in the center, because otherwise if we start having person or the other go out of center, then they are going to have more distortion then the rest of the family.

All right, so this looks good though. Let's go ahead and try it out again. I'll go up to the Filter menu and I'll just choose Spherize right from the top, Ctrl+F or Command+F on a Mac in order to reapply that distortion. Looks ridiculous! Let's turn on the original family down below. Now I'll go ahead and set the distortion layer to an opacity of 50% once again. I'm going to press Ctrl+T or Command+T on a Mac and then I'm going to press Ctrl+Shift+T or Command+Shift+T on the Mac to rerun that last transformation, because it probably very close to what I want. If not exactly dead on.

Now the parts where we start having a little bit of distortion show up are in dad and daughter, right there. They're going to have the most distortion, because they're closest to the edge, whereas this guy right here and mom are going to have the least, because they're closest to the center, because he's leaning inward. Let's go ahead and move this over a little bit. I'm just sort of using the arrow keys to nudge things back and forth, and make sure everybody looks pretty good, and I feel like they do. Let's see if we can try to get dad as nailed in there as possible, because he is the point in which the house is getting divided in half. His head marks the division between this side of the image, and that side of the image. So if we decided to do a little bit of layer masking, then he would serve as a nice forgiving barrier. All right, now I'll press the Enter key or the Return key on the Mac in order to accept that transformation, restore the opacity of the layer to 100%.

You know dad looks good, kid looks good, mom looks just fine. She already had a little bit of distortion associated with this image, some lens distortion. But daughter, it seems to me, is getting the worst of it. She is getting a little skinny right here, and she might like that. I don't know. She might find that to be delightful, but I'm thinking it's a little bit too much distortion. So if we decided we want to reinstate some of the underlying original image, then we need to employ a layer mask, and I'm going to show you how to make that layer mask and then we'll crop the image in the next exercise.

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about Photoshop CS4 One-on-One: Mastery .

Expand all | Collapse all
please wait ...
Q: My Polygon tool is locked into a very small size. I can use the Transform tool to increase it's size once drawn, but I must have something set that will not allow me to freely draw it like I can the other shapes. What could be causing this problem?
A: This could be caused by a value associated with the Radius option of the tool. Click the down-pointing arrowhead to the right (a few tool icons over) from the Polygon tool in the options bar at the top of the screen. This brings up pop-up panel. If the Radius option has a number value, select that value and press Delete or Backspace to clear it out. That should fix the problem.
Share a link to this course

What are exercise files?

Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course. Save time by downloading the author's files instead of setting up your own files, and learn by following along with the instructor.

Can I take this course without the exercise files?

Yes! If you decide you would like the exercise files later, you can upgrade to a premium account any time.

Become a member Download sample files See plans and pricing

Please wait... please wait ...
Upgrade to get access to exercise files.

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

Learn by watching, listening, and doing, Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course, so you can download them and follow along Premium memberships include access to all exercise files in the library.

Exercise files

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

For additional information on downloading and using exercise files, watch our instructional video or read the instructions in the FAQ .

This course includes free exercise files, so you can practice while you watch the course. To access all the exercise files in our library, become a Premium Member.

* Estimated file size

Are you sure you want to mark all the videos in this course as unwatched?

This will not affect your course history, your reports, or your certificates of completion for this course.

Mark all as unwatched Cancel


You have completed Photoshop CS4 One-on-One: Mastery.

Return to your organization's learning portal to continue training, or close this page.


Upgrade to View Courses Offline


With our new Desktop App, Annual Premium Members can download courses for Internet-free viewing.

Upgrade Now

After upgrading, download Desktop App Here.

Become a member to add this course to a playlist

Join today and get unlimited access to the entire library of video courses—and create as many playlists as you like.

Get started

Already a member ?

Exercise files

Learn by watching, listening, and doing! Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course, so you can download them and follow along. Exercise files are available with all Premium memberships. Learn more

Get started

Already a Premium member?

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

Ask a question

Thanks for contacting us.
You’ll hear from our Customer Service team within 24 hours.

Please enter the text shown below:

Exercise files

Access exercise files from a button right under the course name.

Mark videos as unwatched

Remove icons showing you already watched videos if you want to start over.

Control your viewing experience

Make the video wide, narrow, full-screen, or pop the player out of the page into its own window.

Interactive transcripts

Click on text in the transcript to jump to that spot in the video. As the video plays, the relevant spot in the transcript will be highlighted.

Learn more, save more. Upgrade today!

Get our Annual Premium Membership at our best savings yet.

Upgrade to our Annual Premium Membership today and get even more value from your subscription:

“In a way, I feel like you are rooting for me. Like you are really invested in my experience, and want me to get as much out of these courses as possible this is the best place to start on your journey to learning new material.”— Nadine H.

Start your FREE 10-day trial

Begin learning software, business, and creative skills—anytime,
anywhere—with video instruction from recognized industry experts. provides
Unlimited access to over 4,000 courses—more than 100,000 video tutorials
Expert-led instruction
On-the-go learning. Watch from your computer, tablet, or mobile device. Switch back and forth as you choose.
Start Your FREE Trial Now

A trusted source for knowledge.


We provide training to more than 4 million people, and our members tell us that helps them stay ahead of software updates, pick up brand-new skills, switch careers, land promotions, and explore new hobbies. What can we help you do?

Thanks for signing up.

We’ll send you a confirmation email shortly.

Sign up and receive emails about and our online training library:

Here’s our privacy policy with more details about how we handle your information.

Keep up with news, tips, and latest courses with emails from

Sign up and receive emails about and our online training library:

Here’s our privacy policy with more details about how we handle your information.

submit Lightbox submit clicked
Terms and conditions of use

We've updated our terms and conditions (now called terms of service).Go
Review and accept our updated terms of service.