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The Reduce Noise filter which we looked at in the last video performs a basic job of removing high-frequency detail. Let's take it up a notch now and look at this Surface Blur filter. This filter uses a sophisticated algorithm that blurs an image while preserving its edges. And remember from the last movie, that is something we want to do. We want to take areas of very little noise--and a good sample would be like an area here in the foreground-- and we want to smooth it out. But areas of high detail, on the other hand, the edges of the cars for example, or the edges of the trees, we want those to maintain their sharp edges, and Surface Blur is particularly adept at that.
So let's go down to Blur > Surface Blur, and we'll take a look at this. Now I'm going to just start off with the same settings I had in the last filter. Radius and Threshold tend to be the two controls for all of these, and it turns out if you've found a setting you like in one, you can almost always take those same settings in another Radius and Threshold pairing of controls and they will work equally well, or at least it gives you a starting point, so if you want to make adjustments after that, you can, but this looks pretty good.
Maybe I'll play with the Radius a little bit here just to see. So you can see, as I turn this up, it tends to simplify things more. For example, if we look up here at this building, there is a lot of still noise in the side of that building whereas when I turn it up, I start to see that go away, but sharp edges are maintained. And I like that look, so I'm going to go ahead and say OK, and there is a very nice rendition of that. Now you can see down here, that noise was strong enough that the Threshold wasn't high enough to overcome it. That's why we still see that there.
The higher you set the Threshold the farther into the size of the noise is going to look, so a higher setting would also smooth this out, but that's a nice look. And each one of these is seasoned to taste. You do what looks right to your eye. There is no single setting at all. So now that I've done this, this becomes the basis for a underpainting. You want your underpainting to be a simplified version of the original image, and you are going to simplify it a great deal more through the brushing process.
But prior to doing that, by taking this first stab at removing detail, you're already investing in making this image look less like a photograph and more like a painting, because you are getting rid of the language of photography in this, which is the high-frequency detail. This is a very good tool. All of these tools actually are good at this. It just that's the crux of what we are doing this for is to prep this in advance of painting, which will even be simplified more. But to go to this step provides a way to mask a lot of that photographic vocabulary before you even apply the brush to your painting.
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